Stop Hiding Your Social Networking Profiles from Consumers!

Do people know how to contact you on your social networks?

I’m currently doing some industry research, and as part of it, I wanted to take a look at the social media presences of some direct selling companies.  So what did I do?  I went to their websites, looking for the links that would bring me directly to their online presences on social networks.  But you know what?  I was SHOCKED to discover that many companies did not have their social networks listed on the home pages of their websites.  Why not???  (It’s even worse for the international presences of these companies.  At least the US websites of some of these companies have this information listed.)

Why it’s important
When you go to the effort of building out a social networking profile for your business, it’s a way of saying to the consumer, “I want to have a conversation with you beyond the billboard of my website.  I care about what you think, too.”  Your social networking profiles give you a big opportunity to engage consumers like never before.

If you don’t post your profiles, it’s like saying that you don’t care about what the consumer thinks.  You are not interested in having that dialog.  It’s almost like you’ve made a half-hearted effort to create the profiles because you felt like you had to, but you really don’t want anyone to know about or use them.  It’s a disconnect.

But won’t outbound links make people leave our site?
Sometimes people worry that if you provide links to leave the corporate website, you prevent people from achieving the conversion objectives that you hope for…buying product, booking a party, or joining the company.  But you need to start looking at this differently, because the world has changed.  Your website is no longer a consumer’s only opportunity to meet you online, and they EXPECT to be able to engage with you.  When you provide opportunities for consumers to engage with you on your social networking profiles, you greatly increase the chances that that consumer will ultimately convert.

People need to be contacted 7-15 times, on average, before they will do business with you.  However it’s highly unlikely that they will come back to your corporate website that many times, if they’re just a casual user.  If they have the chance to engage with you, though, there’s a much better chance they’ll come back.  People like interesting content that meets their needs.  They like the opportunity to ask questions, participate in contests, answer polls, watch videos, etc.  You can provide fresh content such as this through your social networking profiles, where people will be more apt to return.  Consider your social networking profiles as an extension of your corporate site.

And to help with conversion objectives, some companies are now building in elements of their websites right into their social networking profiles, such as Facebook Pages.  It’s not uncommon to see tabs such as “Find a Distributor” and “Shop Now” right on direct selling company Facebook Pages.  These often link right back to the corporate website, where the conversion happens.

What about the salesforce?  How does this affect me?
The salesforce also has opportunities.  If your company provides you with a replicated website that provides a customizable “About Me” page, you should absolutely be including links to your social networking profiles.  I would love to see companies make it super-easy for consultants, giving them a place to simply type in the URLs of their profiles, and these appear with the various social network icons on the About Me page.  Direct selling is about engaging with the consumer.  Social media simply enhances our ability to do that with our internet visitors.

It’s time to think differently
I challenge you to change the way you think about your corporate website.  We can no longer afford a closed-minded approach that attempts to trap the visitor in our little corner of the world.  Rather, we must be open to engaging with consumers in many places, including social networks, in order to encourage the conversions that lead to success for our businesses.

What do you think?  Does your company list its social networking profiles on its home page?  Are you able to add it to your replicated site?  Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

One Response to Stop Hiding Your Social Networking Profiles from Consumers!
  1. Laurie
    May 13, 2010 | 4:52 pm

    What social networking profiles?

    My company does have a You Tube channel, and it is listed on our personal websites. However, they have not made the leap (or perhaps it’s just a small hop) to other forms of social networking.

    My company is one who does not allow us to advertise online. There has been no word of facebook, twitter or other social media outlet from our home office. I actually find that curious. By not addressing social networking at all, I feel they are missing the boat. I am hoping this will change! The world has moved that way.

    While I truly appreciate my company’s stand of our products only being available from a consultant (one cannot buy directly from the website, for instance, but will be directed to a consultant in their area), since that protects me as a consultant, I want to be able to promote my product and services via social networking, as well.

    I can hear you, Jen! I know social networking is about relationships, and I’ve tried not to cross that. However, I would like to make comments on my products freely when appropriate, without worrying that I’m crossing the line with my company.

    I do have my website listed on my facebook, twitter, and linked in pages. I even have a business page on facebook, but I’ve had to use creativity in naming it, since I can’t reference my company blatantly. I’m pretty sure that it’s not allowed, but I’ve seen upper level people in my company that have the same thing. Maybe they know something I don’t know?!

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