I’ve recently seen a lot of folks popping up who teach direct sellers how to use social media. And on the whole I’m really happy about that. There are a lot of direct sellers out there who need some additional hand-holding as they become familiar with social media, beyond what their companies can realistically provide. (The one thing I’ll advise if you’re choosing someone to help you individually in social media is to MAKE SURE they have worked in direct sales before. Otherwise you’ll be getting generic knowledge, and the way we do things is a bit different.)
And of course, as new folks enter the space, they bring their own opinions related to how social media should be used effectively. Much of this, of course, is based on their own experience as a direct seller, and what worked for them. And this is as it should be. Obviously they shouldn’t just be spouting theory…they have to have used the techniques themselves, and experienced success. (Ask them what results they and their clients have experienced before spending a dime.)
There’s one thing I find troubling, however, and I know why it’s happening because I did it myself. People who learn social media, and then begin to pass on that teaching, typically learn the whole package. How you put a blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc, together, and how that works in concert. And it’s certainly not wrong. If you invest the time and do it well, putting all those elements together can certainly bring results. The first course I ever taught on social media was an 8 week class that taught all these elements, and it was a great class.
But it’s not the only way, and it may not be the best use of your time. I see other “social media experts” who talk in absolutes about how you absolutely must have a blog, or a Facebook Page, or what have you. That this is the key to success.
But the thing is, it’s only the key to success if it works for you, and brings results.
Social media is not a cookie cutter solution. Yes, a blog can be great. But only if you are a decent writer and can commit the time. Yes, a Facebook Page can bring results. But only if you have the time to add a Page onto your already busy schedule.
And it’s more than just being good at using one social media tool or another. It also has to bring you results. If you blog for 3 months and it doesn’t bring you a single lead, then maybe that’s not the best solution for you. If you’re getting similar amounts of leads from your Facebook Page as you got from your Facebook Profile by itself, is it really worth the time investment? If you’re spending time on Twitter, and yet everyone in your target market is on Facebook, are you wasting your time?
It’s so important for those advising direct sellers in social media to look beyond their own favorite tools, and instead focus on the unique skill sets of each individual, and what will bring that individual results. There are not hard and firm absolutes. Some people do fantastic with a blog. Others do exceptionally well without one. (Here are 5 ways to market your business without a blog.)
I’m not trying to discourage anyone from using social media marketing. Obviously I think it’s important. But as you choose the social media expert that will help you make the most of this technology, make sure you are asking the right questions. If they’re pushing you into the same solution they’ve given to every other one of their clients, perhaps that isn’t the expert for you.
When I sit down with direct selling companies, and help them create a social media strategy for the organization, I don’t walk in with a list of tools they should use. Instead, we focus on trends in the industry, what a company’s individual goals are, the time that can be invested, who will be in charge, what they want the sales force to do, and whether or not the company website will support the social media goals of the organization. Only after ALL of that, can we begin to look at the tools that make sense.
There is no cookie cutter solution. It’s about what works for an individual, based upon his or her needs or goals. Don’t get pulled into a path that doesn’t work for you. If you’re not comfortable with a solution, or feel confident it works with your skills, goals, and time, let your advisor know. And if they aren’t flexible, find someone else.
Social media only works when it works for you, and brings you results.
Photo Credit: G&A Sattler