The Social Media Disconnect in Direct Selling

disconnect1 The Social Media Disconnect in Direct Selling

Many MLM professionals in the direct selling industry are still skeptical about the real value of social media, and rightfully so. But just having basic replicated websites and ignoring social media is not a solution for Internet marketing. Detractors of social media believe it’s only a fad, or that it’s exclusively meant for personal use and not for business. I’m a strong believer in social media as a way to support marketing and sales in business, and I think there’s tremendous potential in social media for direct selling companies and their distributors.

But to truly integrate social media as a legitimate marketing channel, and get buy-in from your key executives and staff, you can’t ignore the elephant in the room – ROI.

socialmedia ROI The Social Media Disconnect in Direct Selling

Many social media aficionados and self-proclaimed “gurus” claim that ROI is the wrong metric to track, and that instead you should focus on things like “Return on Engagement”, sentiment value, and influence. As someone focused on bottom line results, this viewpoint irritates me. Don’t get me wrong – engagement, sentiment, and influence are important, especially when your strategy is more focused on branding, customer service, and loyalty.

That aside, however, let’s get real…most companies want to know how social media marketing can directly impact sales.

I don’t think demanding clear ROI on social media marketing is unreasonable, and there are available tools, proven strategies, and successful case studies that validate it’s indeed possible. But it does take real effort, and in the MLM industry you need to give distributors the right guidance and policies if you expect them to succeed. With that said, here are the three biggest disconnects I’ve seen for direct selling companies struggling to wrap there heads around social media and get things moving:

strategy The Social Media Disconnect in Direct Selling

1. Lack of Clear Social Media Strategy

Like any other marketing initiative, you can’t just dive in and start without first developing a sound strategy. Where is your target audience most active (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, blogs, etc.), and what are they interested in discussing & sharing? Is your brand already being discussed? How can you bring value to the discussions? What are your end goals and objectives, and how will they be measured? Do you have internal resources qualified to manage this effort, or do you need to look outside your organization? What tools will you use to manage everything? How much time/resources will be invested to start out with, and at what benchmarks will you reassess adding or removing resources? How do replicated websites play into the strategy for distributors?

Before jumping right in, you need to first answer these questions and others, and in doing so formulate a strategy that can be integrated into your existing marketing mix.

2. Content Planning was Missed

Effective social media marketing is fueled by amazing content that piques interest and catalyzes discussions directly relevant to achieving your goals and objectives. Content can take the form of helpful article links, blog posts, videos, interviews, customer testimonials, photos, or news stories. You need to understand the types of content your audience will find interesting, what will make them engage in discussion and want to share, and what kinds of high quality content your team has the capacity to produce consistently.

It’s best to have one centralized hub where all of your content lives, such as your corporate website or blog, so that you have a defined conversion point from which to measure your true ROI metrics (i.e. enrollment lead generation and online sales). And for distributors, there content hub should be on their replicated websites. With each piece of content, you should have clear and relevant calls-to-action and lead capture opportunities – however, this needs to be done carefully, so as not to come off as being too pushy with sales offers at the wrong times.

bridge The Social Media Disconnect in Direct Selling

3. No Bridge Between Social Media and Conversions on Replicated Websites

Social media is the place where discussions happen, information is shared, interest is generated, and relationships are forged. It is NOT the place where you should expect actual conversions and transactions to happen, at least for now. In order to mobilize all of those juicy discussions and fresh relationships towards measurable conversions, you need to create a seamless bridge between these massive social islands and your conversion hub (i.e. your distributor’s replicated websites).

This bridge can take different shapes, but it should be more than simply listing your website URL and hoping people see it and click. Consider only sharing content excerpts or snip-its through your social profiles, and asking your audience to see the full content on your website with a direct link. We’ve implemented this exact solution within Facebook for MLM companies to offer their distributors. Once the distributor’s Facebook Page is linked to their Empowerkit replicated website, a custom tab is dynamically created in their Facebook Page which displays all of their website content in a nice clean format. Every time the site is updated with fresh content, the Facebook tab is automatically updated as well, and each content item is linked to the site. We also include a prominent lead capture call-to-action button in the tab as well, to help drive interested prospects to the enrollment opportunity on their site.

social media  The Social Media Disconnect in Direct Selling

By far, this is the biggest disconnect I’ve seen, and the primary reason most companies struggle with how to measure and increase the ROI of their social media efforts. If you’d like to chat further about these disconnects as they relate to your company, or see a demo of how Empowerkit bridges the gap between Facebook and conversions on replicated websites, leave a comment below, drop me a line, or give me a call: 415-512-1565 or

Image credits: pwbaker (Pipe Disconnect), Mark Smiciklas (Social ROI), Stefan Erschwendner (Strategy), Paul Dex (Bridge), Rosaura Ochoa (Social $)

December 28, 2010

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