In a world where everyone and everything is connected online, you ignore the power of social media to promote your direct selling business at your peril. Indeed, it’s as if this innovation was invented just for the industry. However, while you may be mad to ignore it, picking your way through the bewildering range of social media options can be baffling, but with a few top tips for a successful strategy under your belt, you can see your business boom!
Once upon a time, when starting your direct selling business, it was sufficient to just write a list of friends and acquaintances to contact. However, today, with around 2.3 billion active users, it makes sense for social media to play a big part in a successful set-up strategy. Indeed, when you consider that most individuals might be able to muster a smattering of names on a written list, statistics show that the average Facebook user alone can contact around 155 ‘friends’ at the click of a cursor. So, the question is ‘How do I use this to build my business?’ Well, here’s a few suggestions:
- First things first
Let’s start with the basics. Whatever social media sites you choose, you need to convey a professional image – giving a good impression is all-important to your business. This might sound obvious, but posting content which is inconsistent with their business and unprofessional is among the mistakes many make. So, for starters, you should fully complete the profile page provided and use an appropriate, professional photo of yourself for your profile picture – no selfies or pet snaps here! You should also include relevant keywords or hashtags related to your products in your profile – to bring people to you when they use the same keywords to search for what you can provide. Last, but definitely not least, be sure to follow any guidelines your company issues for social media usage, so you look professional and don’t go off-message. Reputable organisations will do this to make sure their members work with integrity. For example, Learning Enterprises Organisation Ltd (LEO), a global entrepreneurship training company and direct sales organisation, supplies a specific Social Media Policy for Members, to ensure that all LEO business is run ethically.
- Reaching the right customers
With a vast sea of social media out there, there’s so many options and so little time, so to avoid spreading yourself too thinly, pick your platforms wisely. A look at the facts and figures for social media sites reveals a picture of where to focus your efforts to reach the most people. Front runners include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, WhatsApp, WeChat and Weibo. However, recent statistics show that social media megastar Facebook is storming ahead with 1.79 billion monthly active users. Although there aren’t enough hours in the day to cover every site, having a presence on several helps you reach a diverse audience. However, reaching the right customers is made simpler by using the search and ‘Find Friends’ features sites provide, which even allow you to look for potential customers nearby, and clever use of social selling tools, such as KiteDesk and Nimble, further improves your chances of finding appropriate prospects. In addition, sites such as Twitter are particularly good for what’s now called ‘social listening’ – monitoring discussions and trends to find problems your products can solve and people who might be particularly interested in what you can offer.
- Effective posts and etiquette
Social media can be a minefield of dos and don’ts, which may take time to perfect. However, consideration for potential customers should always be uppermost in your mind. Learning a little of the etiquette to be followed can go a long way towards increasing your success. However, online etiquette is not dissimilar to acceptable offline behaviour. For example, marching into a party and only talking business might make you as popular as someone with halitosis, so why do it online? After all, others can just ‘Unfriend’ you with a click! So it’s useful to remember the ‘80/20’ rule – a helpful guideline suggesting 80% of your posts should be personal, to 20% business. Taking time to get to know potential customers, and what they’re looking for, and providing useful content, helps to form lasting customer relationships. Effective posts should be snappy with relevant keywords to attract attention, and adding images can get you more Views, Likes and Shares. It’s also always good to share useful articles from your company on your page, and perhaps positive media mentions of your products – this can be done by setting up a Google Alert for relevant subjects.
- Timing is everything
Although consistency is important, you should be careful not to spend too long online, to the detriment of everything else. So deciding on a maximum time to spend each day is vital – set an egg-timer and stick to it, social media can be a seductive time-waster if you let it! However, that said, how often should you post content? It seems that this has become an art form, with differing opinions depending on numerous factors. As this can be complicated, it helps to use resources such as Hootsuite, Tweetdeck or Buffer to schedule your messages, remembering to plan posts for your followers in other time zones too. However, when picking the best times to speak to the world, it’s worth investing in your analytics and considering stats on peak usage times, to grab maximum attention. For example, engagement is apparently 18% higher on Thursdays and Fridays, and a Facebook post at 7.00pm receives more clicks than at 8.00pm, but the highest social media traffic is midweek at 1.00–3.00pm. However, if you want to reach Millennials, why not motivate them with a morning message? As 48% of 18–34-year-olds reportedly access Facebook when they wake up – 28% before even getting out of bed!
- Fantastic Facebook features
Finally, Facebook offers a particularly useful range of fantastic features, which probably explains its great success. So be sure to make the most of these to help cultivate existing relationships and form new ones. For example, joining relevant ‘Groups’, accepting ‘Followers’ and organising ‘Events’ can prove very fruitful. Careful organisation of your Friends Lists can also ensure you target the most appropriate people with your posts. It is also important to make the most of Facebook Likes – to raise your visibility and build relationships with like-minded people. However, the new ‘toy’ in the social media sphere, which could prove invaluable to direct selling businesses, is the groundbreaking Facebook Live. This is already being hailed as a game changer, which can be used to train others, hold events and generally build relationships with your customers in real-time.
So, for more sales leads than you can shake a stick at, and a whole world of friends and contacts, you know what to do, but while promoting your business, don’t forget to have fun too!