Social media, or social sharing as many call it is become increasingly prevalent in network marketing and direct sales. In fact, an overwhelming majority of the tens of millions of independent business owners use social media on a regular basis to help build relationships and promote their products and opportunities.
BUT there is a problem…
The introduction and widespread use of social media in direct sales has dramatically increased the distributor turnover rate while at the same time decreased the time it takes for a new business owner to decide to walk away from their new direct selling business.
In the past, “Sean” joins a direct selling company. He sets up meetings and presentations and talks to his friends and family on a one-on-one basis. Based on the average, Sean will stay in the business for at least 4-6 weeks before deciding whether he will keep going or walk away – in a large part dependent on the receptiveness of his friends and family during those one-on-one presentations. Times have changed though… NOW, Sean is introduced to a new company/opportunity/product. He LOVES the product and has no doubt that he will use it and has no problem with telling others about it. Sean leaves the first presentation, signs up and thinks to himself, “I’ve got 700 friends on Facebook, I’m going to crush this and become a millionaire.” The next day, still on a high, Sean listens to a team conference call and watches a webinar. The next day he starts with a simple post on Facebook about the product and for the next couple of days, Sean puts up post after post about the product and business opportunity. He does this because like 99% of everyone else that gets into direct sales, he is trying the mass market or “shotgun” approach, which is to cast as wide a net as possible with as much info as he can put out with the thought that, “if I build it they will come.” After a few days of postings and blasting his contact base he gets a call from his friend who tells him that he will be unsubscribing from his news feed on Facebook because of all the new business posts. A little research later and Sean learns that a number of his friends have also cut him off and some have even unfriended him. The problem is, all of this happens in 4-6 days and Sean is seriously considering walking away from the business before he really even gets started.
THIS IS NOT A HYPOTHETICAL SITUATION. This is the REALITY of the current direct selling environment with the exponential influence of social media.
To make matters even worse, there is now an influx of software companies promoting social media content delivery systems. While it is nice to have an approved content library available to the company’s independent distributor agents, the implementation of one of these systems could have a serious negative impact on a company’s business… like putting a machine gun in the hands of a child.
Some of the software solutions look great and they even interact with the company’s back office system. The problem is, without adequate in-application coaching these content delivery systems will not only increase the rate of turnover, they will also increase the regulatory and compliance concerns regarding communication methods, privacy and spam.
The ONLY company that I’ve seen address this is Amplio Technologies (Amplio.com) and the reason they will be the only company is because of their patents on a software system that has content delivery with a coaching mechanism.
This is a VERY serious problem facing us in direct sales. My friend and direct selling executive, Jeff Stroud made it very clear in a recent blog post that “Direct Sales is at a Crossroads” (http://jeffstroud2012.wordpress.com). His words encourage direct selling companies to wake up and understand that the social/digital paradigm shift is upon us. We MUST take action BUT it must be the right way. What we do NOT need is a flood of criticism and condemnation on our industry based on the fact that new distributor agents are experiencing massive failure because of social and digital media, which is being compounded by companies adding content delivery systems to inevitably help people fail quicker. What we need is training and more solid integration. Companies that share their messaging through distributor agents and teach them how to best represent their products and opportunities will be the ones that flourish.
Don’t get me wrong… I am a proponent of content delivery systems. However it MUST come equipped with coaching built in as well as messaging platform that enables the company to control the message, the delivery and the frequency of content change. This is why I mentioned Amplio.com. Out of need to understand how to succeed in this new environment, I’ve personally demo’d all of the software solutions (that I was able to find) and only Amplio addresses the coaching and messaging platform (again, patented). Some companies will be able to use their system to give the distributor agents a personalized sales funnel page that contains content driven by the company itself; so when the distributor agent “pushes” a message from the content delivery system, it can drive people to their personalize sales page, which in turn will help them build the relationship rooted in professionalism and substance – driven by the company itself. This is incredibly important to decreasing turnover rates and increasing retention and recruiting.
When it comes to the direct selling industry, we are all in this together. No other industry has national meetings where competitive companies convene in a “brotherhood” type of environment, sharing best practices and tips for success. When something is good for the industry, it helps the entire industry and the “cause” of direct selling.
Social media isn’t going anywhere and in the next year, virtually all of the 50+ million independent direct sellers worldwide will use social media to help their personal businesses. As supportive companies, industry executives and thought leaders, we can help keep the industry moving forward by choosing the right solutions for our valuable distributor agents to use.
Mike Magolnick is a 20-year industry executive as well as a 3-time best selling author. He is among the most connected people in the world on social media and has been one of the Top 100 Entrepreneurs to Follow on Twitter for nine straight months (#13 in Feb 2013).