There are some who want to argue that direct selling isn’t really a “business” and I say that’s not true. It is a business. A small business and a very personal business. I liken it to having a plethora of mini-franchisees growing, developing, dreaming about and selling your product or service. Direct selling has come a long way from its roots more than a hundred years ago. Today, direct sellers have a lot more things at their disposal and in addition to personal one-on-one demonstrations; party plan events or opportunity meetings they are using advanced technology as a way to reach their consumers and get sales.
What’s prevalent in their online toolbox? Social networking sites have become the place to be and be seen in the virtual world, as more and more users are connecting with their friends and building new relationships using social media.
As a direct seller, you would be losing an opportunity to promote your personal brand and potentially generate new leads if you don’t create accounts on these social networking sites. Facebook definitely tops the list, by the sheer number of its users. With over 8000 million people having signed up, it’s definitely a site you can’t ignore.
But what about Google’s newest offering, Google+? In a sound bite, it’s a social network that Google recently launched to compete with the other big players out there such as Facebook and Twitter. As a direct seller, does it make sense to add yet another social network to your “places to be”?
With over 20 million users and fast growing, it harnesses the power and the might of Google’s Search Engine, and it’s an excellent way to get a good link going to your blog or your site.
Of course, just like any social networking platform, it’s important that you know what works on Google+ and what doesn’t.
Remember that social media is basically for establishing connections and building relationships, not selling or pushing your products on people.
As a direct seller, you’re not only representing your own personal brand, but your company’s as well. Anything you throw into the social space is going to reflect on you and your company’s image.
So how do you strike a good balance in terms of building connections and marketing your products? There’s actually a rule when it comes to social media – the 80/20 rule. 80% of the things you do needs to focus on others, whether it’s posting helpful content or sharing content from others, actively responding to updates and posts in your network, and fostering more meaningful relationships with other people; only 20% should be devoted to promoting and marketing your products.
The best way to reach out to people is to be nice and helpful to them
Don’t fill your page with useless updates and pushy advertising that’s just going to result in people un-following you. Offer useful tidbits and helpful content that gets the conversation going and stimulates discussion. Take the time to also comment on other people’s posts and share content from others. Remember that the more you give, the more you receive.
And perhaps the best thing about Google+ is the fact that it gives you features that can really help you connect with others in a more targeted way, rather than simply blasting out an update to all of your followers and hoping that they’re interested. With its Circles feature, you can offer specific deals to your loyal customers, who can really help you generate new leads by promoting your products to their own friends. You can even be so specific and “circle up” with those who have shown an interest in the opportunity that you are involved in as a direct seller.
Social media is all about being social and listening intently. That practice alone will keep you standing out from the pack and letting your personality shine through. It’s a great way to build relationships since it offers real-time interaction for its users. In addition to the Circles feature on Google+, you also have Hangouts, Games, and even a Mobile feature. And because the search engine is integrated right into Google+, you can easily search for relevant content that you can share with your friends and followers.
Direct sellers and small business owners, while there are many platforms that can be even more relevant if you’re a location based business, for those whose business rides around with them in their back seat or the trunk of their car the big three (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) have now become the Fantastic Four! Welcome Google+ to the person to person based business toolbox!
Maria Elena Duron, is managing editor of the Personal Branding Blog and is also the CEO (chief engagement officer) of buzz2bucks.com – a word of mouth marketing firm. She helps create connection, credibility, community and cha-ching through mobile marketing and social commerce around your brand. She is co-founder of #brandchat – a weekly twitter chat focused on every aspect of branding.