As a social media consultant that works with a lot of direct selling companies, advising them on strategy and tools, I also get approached by a lot of software vendors who want me to recommend their products to my clients. And to be honest, I’ve been pretty impressed with the quality level of what I’ve seen. There are mobile apps that allow you to place orders and track your downline right from your mobile device. There are apps that allow your company to provide you with content that you can use in your Facebook profile with just one click. Lots of very cool stuff.
But there is a common denominator with many of these tools, and to be honest, it’s something that worries me. Some vendors have shown me tools that push content into Facebook, and the demo content is CHOCK FULL of spammy, advertising stuff. We all know that a content marketing strategy is what works in social media. We don’t want to be hurling spam at our friends…after all, our social networks are not an opt-in list. If these application vendors are counting on companies knowing how to do this right, right out of the gate, I think we’re going to have another problem on our hands. Because if a direct sales company provides all its distributors with a tool that knowingly pushes business messages out through profiles, every single person who uses that tool could be shut down. After all, it’s against Facebook Terms of Service to post direct business messages through a profile.
The problem these tools is supposed to be solving is to provide appropriate status updates to distributors who may not know how to do that themselves. But if these messages are overtly business-y, these tools cause more problems than they cure.
For all companies that are considering such tools, make sure that the developer of the application has gotten approval from Facebook, that it can be used to push messages to the profile. Facebook MUST be on board, to avoid problems down the line. And for distributors/consultants, make sure that the messages you’re being provided, should your company choose to use such tools, are content-driven, and not sales/recruiting-driven. There is a difference, and the profile is all about providing value, not driving a sale or recruiting directly. That comes later. If you feel the messages are too sales-y, tell your company. The last thing we want to see is every consultant in the company losing their Facebook account due to violations of the Facebook Terms of Service.
In theory, I really like the idea of the company being able to provide content that distributors can pass along to their social networks. However these messages MUST be crafted by people skilled in social media marketing, who understand the difference between advertising and social networking. And application vendors have to be on the front lines here, providing appropriate demo content that illustrates how to populate these tools well. And that means the vendor must understand our business model, or bring on someone who does. Every step of the process, from vendor to company to consultant, must understand what is appropriate and what is not. Only then will these tools provide value, and benefit the industry as a whole.
Would love to know what you think about all this. Is your company using tools like this (they’re pretty new, and don’t have a lot of market adoption yet)? Would you use it if your company provided it? Looking forward to reading your comments below.