I’ve noticed a disturbing trend recently where software companies claim to solve all of a direct sales company’s social media requirements with their latest and greatest software tool. Companies can control the message their distributors send, they claim! You can build a whole community within your own little bubble, within your control! While I am not knocking any particular software application, I think it’s important to realize that you don’t need to pay for a software platform in order to use social media effectively.
Part of the beauty of social media is the fact that the tools where the most people are are free. If you build your own social community on your own website, you’re going to have to complete the additional step of driving traffic there. What’s the compelling reason for your prospects to come to your community? Why not operate in environments such as Facebook, where your prospects already hang out? Why would they go to your homegrown community for fun? To be sold? I don’t think so.
You also need to realize that the conversation is going to go on within Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking platforms whether you participate or not. You will not be able to tightly control the message. Those days are over, and it’s best not to even try, because that could come back to bite you in social media circles.
Now I’m not saying that direct sales companies shouldn’t consider software solutions. But it’s important to take a step back and consider the overall goals of your social media and total marketing program first. What do you want to accomplish? Who are you trying to reach? Where do you want to drive traffic, and what are the conversion objectives? How will participation with your brand shape brand perception? How will you measure success? Without answering these critical questions first, investing in an expensive software platform is a mistake.
Basic sales strategy says you go where the people are. It’s not “If you build it they will come.” People are already using free social networking tools such as Facebook and Twitter, and that’s where they’re connecting with others. Some are already complaining that they’re overwhelmed with these tools. Why on earth would you want to add another? You don’t want to make doing business with you a social media chore. Instead, blend into the communities that already exist, bring value, and drive traffic that relates to your conversion objectives. That’s how you’ll experience success with your overall social media strategy.
Your thoughts? Would love to read them in the comments!