Selling Online. Direct Sales. Social Media for Business.
I think about when I left my corporate job 9 years ago, and I was excited to delve into a new venture, full of hope and promise. But unfortunately, that first business didn’t work out, for a variety of reasons. Nine years ago, social media was just a blip so to grow your business, you used old-fashioned marketing tactics, which seemed to go at a snail’s pace. People were slowly adapting to having a Facebook profile, and even questioning whether they should add photos of their lives or kids online. When someone unfriended you, it showed up in your news feed which was at that time, chronological!! And using social media for business, was merely an embryo of an idea.
When I think of whether or not I had that business starting today, I wonder if it would have been different? I can’t go back so it doesn’t matter, but today, building a business online and using social media to market yourself and business is commonplace. And companies and individuals are still figuring things out. We’ve seen Influencers catapult over the past 2-3 years on platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, and companies are quickly trying to follow suit. Just 3 years ago, your Direct Sales headquarters probably didn’t have an Instagram or Snapchat account. And 5 years ago, they may just have started a Facebook Page.
It is an entirely new landscape. And you don’t need a tonne of money!
Social Media is really the greatest equalizer in entrepreneurship.
And when something is new, people try different things. Some succeed, and some don’t. I know I’ve probably done it all! For many years I spammed my entire network with my enthusiasm for the jewelry I was selling. But when you know better techniques, and the landscape changes, you adapt and change with it.
I read this most hilarious post on Scary Mommy this week, by author Christine Organ, which truly made me laugh out loud! It resonated so hard because we are all seeing everyone we know try to do some sort of business on social media, whether it is a go-fund-me page or pitching our kid’s school fundraisers. Everyone is doing it, it’s how we network and connect. But then it gets noisy and people tune out. And get annoyed. And honestly, some approaches are simply not effective.
Here is my summary of things you can do that will help you grow your business online, without being the creepy Facebook friend from high school (read the article!)
Use the 80/20 Rule – Use your personal profiles online to promote your business. But 80% of the time, post interesting and relevant content to your life, and 20% of the time, do a business post. Even better, create a Facebook group, or a Facebook Business page (or change your Instagram Profile to a Business account) that you can boost posts for a small amount like $5.Using your personal social media profiles to continuously promote your business becomes creepy. Don’t spam your friends with business stuff.
Remember the 80/20 rule: for every 5 Instagram pictures you post online, only 1 should be about your business. Or do 5 posts in a row about your business, and then breathe…and make the next 20 about other stuff. Essentially, you are spamming people if you do it more often than that, and they will get bored and unfollow/unfriend you. It’s just not effective. Subtly remind them about why they are following you in the first place by being your interesting, fabulous self! Sometimes that’s enough.
Get Out of Your House – Take your butt out the door and meet people in person. Doing various interesting things, and talking to other people will help you to be more well-rounded and let people know why you are interesting. I find this is getting harder and harder to do as we are connecting with audiences globally a lot easier – but if you get invited to a neighbourhood get-together, GO to it! If you have a chance to meet with other people for coffee after school, GO! If there is a conference in your niche, like a Direct Sales meeting or blogging conference, GO! People still buy from people, and your unique personality is what makes you stand out from all of the other people in the universe doing stuff online.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work – Doesn’t that sound corny? But truthfully, going at it alone is hard. So meet up with other people that can help you along the way. No matter what any company says, a independent seller for any Direct Sales business is a lone job. Because you have a volunteer army of people on your team and they are trying just as hard to build their businesses. So ultimately unless you both get a cut of the same paycheque, it’s your gig, and yours alone. But you can build a team of influencers and supporters around you to help make your wheels continue to roll.
Find people that are doing the same type of thing that you are, maybe in a different industry, and make friends with them. Not because you want them to buy something, but because you are both hustlin’ and maybe you can learn from one another. That’s your team, your supporters, and your tribe. And support them and love them back. A challenge might be to comment on their photos, share their efforts, and it always helps to build them up. Be a friend. Sometimes I think that’s what is getting lost in the sea of online business-building.
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