For your corporate social media, who is your main audience and why? Consumer or the salesforce?
Our corporate social media experience is crafted with a broad audience in mind, encompassing both customers and independent consultants and, increasingly, new eyes as we push to grow brand awareness. Our social media presence is an incredible representation of who we are at the core as a brand, and is a great way for us to engage with our broader community as well as give our consultant base guiding examples and corporate-generated content to share. We do have corporate-moderated, closed Facebook Groups that are geared specifically to supporting our independent consultants and creating a space for them to connect with each other, in addition to their various team and leader groups.
When the pandemic hit, were you already social media savvy enough that you did not have to really pivot, or were you forced to immediately embrace and adopt new social media strategies?
Fortunately, our team had been focusing the years prior on building a strong foundation of social media strategy, guidelines, and best practices for our corporate social media team, as well as training and best practices for our independent consultant base. But I’d be lying if I said we didn’t have to adopt new social strategies amid the pandemic. It’s certainly forced us in many ways to look at how we use social media to communicate to our consultants. And we’ve had to get creative as a home office marketing team about how we continue to create a compelling and cohesive social media experience for our followers when we’re dealing with dynamically changing plans and inventory shortages among the hypergrowth we’ve seen in 2020. It’s a good problem to have!
What were the major challenges you faced in your digital strategy during the last year? What tools did you add, if any, and which did the field find most useful (Zoom, Facebook, Instagram)?
The massive shift to digital and online shopping that we’ve seen in retail and direct selling has posed a major challenge to ensuring our systems can not only support the unprecedented volume of digital traffic we’re seeing but also meet the high expectations of online shoppers for an e-commerce experience. We’re up against incredible e-comm experiences from massive players that have been at this far longer than we’ve been in existence. But it’s a fun, challenging David v. Goliath story.
As a direct seller you have a wide audience for social: customers, your field, and prospects with whom you want to share your brand. What channels are best for each audience?
I’ve said many times that working in marketing within the direct selling industry has been a next-level challenge in a marketing career. It forces you to think creatively about how you weave together strategies to find what is most effective for your direct selling business. As it relates to social media channels, we primarily leverage Facebook Groups for discussion with our independent consultant base. This does not replace our official internal communication channels but is a great way for us to have an informal, two-way dialogue. Facebook and Instagram have been powerhouses for reaching our broader following. We’ve spent much more time focusing on Pinterest, YouTube, and various Google offerings to reach new audiences to fuel the funnel for our independent consultants and increase overall brand awareness.
What is your social media content mostly composed of? Product information? CSR? Salesforce achievements? What drives your decisions in what you share on social media?
Our branded (or corporate) social media experiences are focused heavily on product, but we’ve made a deliberate effort over the last few years to focus on sharing content that’s relevant to our audience, brand, and the current times—for example, spreading messages to be kind to one another and paying it forward, sharing inspiration from our Co-CEOs Heidi and Orville Thompson, and generally creating a positive and celebratory outlet for our social media following in what can often be a crazy social sphere. Our consultant-focused pages and groups take a different approach by focusing on sales training, awards and recognition, and general inspiration and motivation from our consultant engagement and development teams to optimize the more than 260,000 independent businesses we support.
In 2020, the FTC focused deeply on social media product claims and earnings claims made by direct sellers. What are you doing to identify improper usage of social media and to correct it? What are you doing to ensure your field is compliant?
It all starts with great training and communication to ensure that our independent consultants are educated on the do’s and don’ts, and, more importantly, the “why” behind these guidelines and how following these can benefit not only their businesses but create a better overall experience for their customers, teams, and general community. Our training, product, and marketing teams have done a great job of pulling together documentation and ongoing training to ensure these guidelines are well understood. Beyond that, our compliance and social media moderation teams actively monitor for misuse and will work with individuals to correct and resolve issues as appropriate.
There have been several media articles in 2020 about the Facebook fatigue—the pressure that consumers, mainly women, feel from direct sellers who constantly promote their products and their opportunities on social media. How are you addressing that with your salesforce?
We have leaned into promoting attraction marketing concepts as well as general social media and influencer best practices to our field. It’s all about identifying and keeping consistent with your personal brand and what makes you unique, providing real value, and fostering genuine relationships with your social media following. That will attract the right people to you for the right reasons. It shouldn’t be about the sell-sell-sell or the short-term, self-serving “win.” But instead, the focus should be on the long game by creating an authentic space that adds value to your network. The sales will follow when you find a way to bridge interests, desires, and needs to solutions. It takes a bit more patience, but that transforms you from an obnoxious, in-your-digital-face seller to an authentic friend or social account who can authentically fill a genuine need.
How do you find a balance between supporting your field and communicating the products and business opportunity without alienating their audience?
We have built internal marketing communications processes and guidelines to ensure that we communicate to our consultant base prior to launching products or programs to a broader audience whenever possible. This ensures that as business owners, our consultants can plan and be well-prepared to support their customers. We’ll always lean on doing the right thing for our consultants’ businesses. That sometimes means that they sell product before our home office marketing team even has a chance to promote it—something that we are perfectly fine with and gladly adjust to because it indicates a high level of engagement from our consultants.
When the pandemic hit and your salesforce could no longer hold in-person parties, how did you help your salesforce leverage social media to sell virtually?
Behind every challenge or setback is an opportunity for growth. We were fortunate to have all the necessary building blocks (systems, tools, training) in place when the pandemic hit, and our consultants accelerated their shift or pivot to virtual and digital selling. Beyond that, we have leaned heavily into and enhanced our digital marketing and social media training and best practices. Our consultant development and training teams have done a wonderful job at surfacing up relevant ideas, training, and content to continue to help our consultants develop in an ever-evolving virtual world.
Now that we have seen successes with virtual sales and social selling versus in-person parties, what are you going to do in 2021 to build on that new foundation? What role do you see virtual selling and social media playing in the future?
There were some trying times in 2020, but it certainly catapulted us collectively into thinking differently and more firmly embracing digital marketing and virtual selling tactics. Social media will continue to play a huge role in the future as we continue to build a person-to-person connection with the convenience of the digital world. Recent enhancements with social media selling tools like Instagram’s improved shopping function present interesting opportunities for us as we sort through how our broad salesforce can begin to capitalize on new digital functionality to meet their customers where they are in a time and place that’s relevant to them.
*Contributor-submitted article. Articles submitted by contributors and published in Direct Selling Journal do not necessarily represent a DSA endorsement nor do opinions expressed therein necessarily represent those of DSA.