Is Social Media the Present or the Future of Direct Sales?

One of the comments on my blog this past week got me thinking.  It was stated that social media marketing is not the FUTURE of direct sales, it’s the PRESENT.  I’m sorry, but I’m not sure that I can agree with that statement.  Is it true that many forward thinking direct sellers are embracing social media marketing with varying degrees of success?  Yes.  Is it true that some forward-thinking companies are putting tools in the hands of their distributors that make it easier for them to implement a social media marketing strategy within their businesses?  Yes.  But is this the norm?  I have to say no.

And furthermore, I think the question still needs to be fully answered as to whether or not every company in our industry NEEDS social media marketing.  Now I know, if you’ve read my stuff on how social media marketing is the future of direct sales, you must be scratching your heads.  And I do have to say that I believe that there can be components of social media marketing that apply to every business.  We especially have to consider that 18-24 year old demographic, which is our next wave of consultants.  They have grown up on this stuff, and would be surprised NOT to have it available.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that social media marketing will not be the same for everyone.  For some companies with lower ticket items, it makes a lot of sense to have the online storefront for distributors, training on online parties and how to expand your social network using sites like Facebook and Twitter, etc.  Yet for other companies, perhaps regular online newsletters and social networking training is enough.  The company can build content that creates value around the company’s name and products through a blog and YouTube videos, without requiring this of its distributors.

But no matter what social media marketing strategy is employed, the keys are content that provides value to the customer and potential distributor base (and it’s important to decide who is going to be producing the content…that conversation needs to happen NOW), as well as the ability to employ networking strategies that work.  Consultants MUST be taught how to network effectively if the strategy is to benefit the company, and provide income for the distributor.

So if you’re reading this, what do you think?  How will social media marketing affect your business?  What are you currently doing to put it to work for your business?  Let’s learn from each other, and create a resource that will be valuable to the entire industry.

6 Responses to Is Social Media the Present or the Future of Direct Sales?
  1. Bobi
    February 5, 2009 | 8:16 am

    Having been around this industry in the early 1990’s, I see a parallel of acceptance of social media to that of the use of the internet and the chat room. It is a technology that is here now. Direct Sales companies are wise to determine how to employ it productively. It is another tool for the sales force to learn and there is always the balance between how much help it provides and how much it distracts or saps their time from selling. The key will be understanding how to use it to properly to market (with consistent branding) for recruits and parties; resulting, of course, in greater revenues for both the field and the corporate office.

  2. Sue Henry
    February 3, 2009 | 9:27 pm

    Social media is how businesses are finding, attracting, and converting new customers or clients. Don’t fall into the trap that only the “under 30” crowd is using social media – I know many people older than that who are having wonderful success. As I travel and teach people the basics, some are grasping and implementing what they’ve learned. Sales, including social media, is not a spectator sport. It requires meeting new people, building relationships, developing credibility and then generating profitability. Social media allows you to connect with people you wouldn’t have been able to before because of geographical limits. Try to connect with and build relationships with the people who know the people who want, need, and will buy your products or services. Someone is going to buy what you offer online today – shouldn’t they buy it from you? By effectively using social media, they will.

  3. Eleanor
    February 2, 2009 | 7:57 pm

    I believe it is both, along with being a Tastefully Simple consultant I have finished training to become an Internet Marketing Virtual Assistant and am now completing a course on Social Media. I am in my 30’s and Soc Med is not just for the 18-20 somethings. Internet Marketers are building relationships and making huge amounts of money. I say why not us Direct Sellers and and why not now. The Future comes to fast and don’t you hate it when you find out about something after everyone else does…

    That’s just my two cents. I would love to Twitter with any of you http://www.Twitter.com/VAgirlfriday

  4. Andi Sherwood
    January 26, 2009 | 9:40 pm

    My comment about convention went in with a smiley face because I had it in parenthesis. It should be 2008. Sorry!

    🙂

  5. Andi Sherwood
    January 26, 2009 | 9:39 pm

    I agree that it is the future rather than the present. It is a portion of what is going on but the typical Consultant/Distributor is not currently in the 18-24 age group. The bulk of consultants are older than that and are still trying to acclimate to the Social Media tools out there. Some are getting frustrated and giving up on those, many are not even trying, and then some are being successful. I think we are only beginning to see those that are being successful with it.

    I think the other obstacle with this form of marketing is that executives are also among that generation that have not acclimated to the Social Media and therefore are not embracing it as much. Last year (2008) at convention I was speaking with an executive from one of the largest Direct Selling companies (I won’t name them) and she said that her company was just starting to investigate them but she didn’t even know what they were.

    My point here is that I don’t believe it is the present because the demographics of both the typical consultant and the executives within the industry have not embraced it. As the younger generations take a larger presence on both the sales force and executive side, then the social media will become more present as a standard and necessity but I see that as being the future, not today.

    🙂

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