Is Social Media the Ultimate Lead Generation Tool for Direct Sales?

If you’ve been using social media, you probably already know that it’s a great tool to help you strengthen relationships with people you already know, or used to know.  But what about new people?  Can social media also help you find them?  I am sometimes approached by seasoned multi-level marketers who want to know how social media can help them fill their pipeline with quality leads that will result in new business.  And it’s a good question.

Now before I dive into this more deeply, I want to tell you where I stand on the whole concept of leads.  When we talk about leads that have opted in for something else, and you’ve purchased a list of these folks, I think that flies in the face of what we’re trying to do in social media.

And sometimes we confuse the terms “internet marketing” with “social media.”  In actuality, these are two very different things.  Internet marketing involves squeeze pages, autoresponders, and the like, and you may never actually speak to someone prior to converting.  In my opinion, that has nothing to do with social media.

You see, social media is about people.  It’s about having conversations, building relationships, understanding someone’s needs, and then trying to meet those needs.  Squeeze pages aren’t social.  When I talk about using social media as a lead generation tool, I am not talking about driving traffic to a squeeze page and trying to convince them of anything (and most likely, the policies and procedures you agreed to when you joined your company don’t allow you to do this anyway.)

So then, where does that leave us?  Can social media help you generate new leads for your business?  Certainly.  But you must approach it with the term “social” at the forefront of your mind.  You can’t simply put this on autopilot and walk away.

If you want to generate new leads for your business, you must:

  1. Invest the time.  Relationships require your presence.  So commit to time daily if you want to generate quality leads for your business, and spend that time listening to people, understanding their needs, and providing value.
  2. Join the communities that matter to your prospects (and to you too!).  There are plenty of people online, in various communities, who may have an interest in what you have to offer.  So find out where they spend their time online. Not sure where?  Ask people you’re already connected to, do internet searches related to your products and services, and target the search towards groups (if you do a Google search, and click the “More” link in the upper-left, you can select to search only groups.)  But only join those groups where you can be an authentic contributor.  Don’t join the “we love cars” group if you have no interest in them.  You’ll be spending time in these groups talking about common interests and developing relationships, so make sure it interests YOU, as well.
  3. Interact online. Join social networks and talk to people.  Comment on your friends’ posts, and see who else comments.  Are there people with whom you might be able to connect?  Reach out to them, remind them where you connected, and see if they would like to connect with you.  But you must be a person first.  If they feel like all you want to do is sell them, they will run in the other direction.  Enjoy the process of getting to know people, provide links to valuable content, and give it time.  The business comes after the relationship.
  4. Provide a way for people to convert.  If you want to generate new leads for your business, they need someplace to give you their information (preferably in a way that promises value to the lead.)  So be SURE you have a newsletter or other value piece (special report, guide, etc.) and then have a place people can sign up for it.  This can be done on a blog, Facebook Page, or right from your Facebook Profile (see an example of my newsletter sign-up form on my Facebook Profile here…look on the left under the photos of my friends.)
  5. Be a human being.  This is why social media trumps internet marketing in my book.  Think about our industry…direct selling is a people business.  Maybe I’m a purist, but I believe what makes us such a special industry is our ability to build relationships with our prospects, and meet their needs in a way they will never be met in a big-box store. That’s a person to person activity. So spend time sharing something of yourself.  And listen to others.  Invest the time doing what direct sellers do best…get to know people, and help them to know you.  Only then can you provide the information that they need to decide to join or purchase.

So maybe you’re saying, “but that sounds like a lot of work!”  You’re right.  It is work.  But a lead who joins that has been understood will be a much stronger prospect for your business than a nameless, faceless email address that connected with you through a squeeze page.  Social media is much more in line with our intention as direct sellers.  We are “direct” because we connect one on one with people.  That is our essence, and the reason we exist.

Social media does provide a fabulous way to generate new leads for our business.  But it’s not on auto-pilot, and it’s not mass marketing.  Rather, it’s a way to do what we do face to face, with a larger geographic audience.  We must connect with individuals, and build relationships, if we hope to build a thriving business in direct sales.

Your thoughts?  Would love to read them in the comments!

4 Responses to Is Social Media the Ultimate Lead Generation Tool for Direct Sales?
  1. Dawn Beardsley
    March 23, 2011 | 11:51 am

    Jennifer, thank you for this article. I have been working on my internet presence and wondered if facebook is really the place to be. I see know it’s about building relationships first, and if we’re running our direct sales business correctly and effectively than we are building relationships first and selling second.

    Dawn Beardsley recently posted..Proper Candle Care

  2. Natalie Beauchamp
    August 10, 2010 | 8:49 pm

    Jennifer thank you for your concise, to the point and keeping it real advice. I am working on building my presence on Facebook and your articles and advice are invaluabe.

    Thanks again … Natalie

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