Posting for the Salesforce Isn’t Social

It seems like it happens every year. Some technology vendor or another comes up with this “great new idea” that no one else is doing, and so they think they should. They think they should offer a product that allows direct selling companies to post on social networks on behalf of their salesforce. These vendors approach a few direct selling companies, and find one or two whose lawyers and brand managers think it’s a great idea. But as I seem to have to write about every year, this approach is a mistake, and here’s why.

  • Social networks are SOCIAL. That means they are built on the personality of the people that use them. If you’re not going to allow your distributors to post about your company online, why allow them to use social networks at all? If you’re removing your salesforce from the equation, you’re killing the most important part of your business…the trust people have in the person telling them about your business. If you try to post for your salesforce, you’re missing the point of these online tools.
  • You look like you don’t have confidence in your salesforce. People will see that ALL of your reps are posting the same set of posts. (People are rarely only connected to just one of your consultants.) We’ve seen it before when companies have tried this approach. It makes your company look like you don’t trust your reps to talk about the brand. If you don’t have confidence in your salesforce, why should customers and prospects?
  • Cookie cutter posts are not authentic. Internet users value authenticity from brands above all else. And the quickest way to alienate these users is for them to find out that the person posting is not the person posting. All it takes is one influential internet user to call you out on this publicly, and your brand can be destroyed.
  • Welcome to the Internet. Your brand is not your own anymore. The second someone goes online and talks about your brand, you can no longer tightly control the brand messaging, no matter how much you want to. Sorry lawyers and brand managers, but that’s today’s reality. Rather than fight this (and believe me, it’s a losing battle) you’re much better off taking an approach like Scentsy. Orville Thompson, the founder of Scentsy, focused a great deal on the “democratization of the brand.” This means that they developed the brand in collaboration with their salesforce, and trained the salesforce on how to use social tools properly. No one can argue with their success. Other companies would do well to take a page from Scentsy’s book in this regard.

Do you have to train your salesforce to represent your brand well? Absolutely. It takes effort. But the effort pays off in dramatic ways. Trying to take the easy way out and just post for your salesforce saps the life out of a consultant’s online efforts, and will create bigger problems than you think you’re solving.

Train them. Give them a content library that they can draw from. They’re smart and they want to be successful. But don’t post for them. It’s just a bad idea.

Your thoughts?

7 Responses to Posting for the Salesforce Isn’t Social
  1. Brooke @ Home Candle Business
    January 11, 2013 | 7:41 pm

    I am so excited to find this blog. This is what I tell my clients day in and day out, and it is probably even more important for direct sales companies.

    I tried selling other products, but I was frustrated by their locked down social media and internet policies. The internet is a powerful force, and while there will always be consultants that misuse the tools at their disposal, your brand is likely to be far more successful if you harness the power of new media tools (blogs, external websites, social media accounts). The ability to market online IS the reason that I signed up to sell Scentsy, and other direct sales companies would be smart to look at these policies and adjust as the world becomes more and more digital.

  2. Maris King
    January 9, 2013 | 11:47 pm

    It takes time just to brand yourself online and I think the stronger the salesforce that you have the more it will make you more effective.
    Maris King recently posted..Tips for Getting Quotes for Timber Joinery Products

  3. Brian Cain
    December 14, 2012 | 5:30 pm

    Branding is cool, but at the end of the day… It’s about the community and the relationships with real people – Especially on SOCIAL NETWORKS! LOL… No amount of technology is going to replace building relationships on a large scale for something like an entire sales force. It’s one thing to have leveraged content that helps build relationships even before an initial interaction, but it doesn’t work on a large scale with a cookie cutter format.
    Brian Cain recently posted..What Happens when you get Millionaire Leaders all in ONE room Hanging Out and Sharing Secrets?

  4. Heather
    December 13, 2012 | 10:46 am

    on the other hand, if the company’s suggested posts get changed up in just the wrong way by a consultant with a large following and it goes viral, it could shake the company’s image. So I see both sides.

    I think it would be nice if DS companies allowed you to post about them on social networks only after taking an online (short, free) course. That way everyone in the company would have the same knowledge from the company.
    Heather recently posted..Rest In Peace, Zig Ziglar

  5. Pat Zahn
    December 12, 2012 | 2:32 pm

    I also don’t care for the company sending out emails on behalf of the sales force. I recently made a purchase from a Consultant and now I get emails about “companion” products I might like, not from my Consultant, but from the company. As a direct seller myself, I’d like to decide when these go out and I’d like to be able to personalize them (which I am able to do with my company.)
    Pat Zahn recently posted..Breaking Scrapbooking Rules: Lose the Rigidity #1

    • Bernice Caruth
      December 14, 2012 | 8:24 pm

      I agree. It gets confusing… when I’m not sure if a member in my group got an email or not, and I don’t want to resend a company email that they may have gotten already.

  6. Karen Clark
    December 11, 2012 | 2:50 pm

    Love the idea of a bank of posts they can pull from and edit with their own style, but requiring verbatim corporate posts ONLY not only stifles creativity but goes against what social media is about – being social and focusing on the relationship first. We do not require them to speaking verbatim from a script at parties and appointments, at vendor events etc. so why is social media different? This thinking arises when companies see social media as a passive form of advertising vs. a fluid relationship-based conversation which parallels offline business. Great post!
    Karen Clark recently posted..What would you tell your 21 year old entrepreneurial self?

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