Facebook is becoming a less and less hospitable place for businesses when it comes to organic reach. For the direct selling industry, each sales rep basically runs their own small business. But most of the advice out there about social selling on Facebook might not be right for every independent rep when it comes to representing their business online.
While there’s no question that the home office needs to have a Facebook page up and running as a way to show that the brand is active and engaged, it’s not necessarily the case for each individual rep in the field. While it’s still undeniably top dog, Facebook is just one of many ways to engage with prospects and customers.
The two most important things I believe should be considered when it comes to making this decision are:
- Reach – How many people actually see your activity?
- Quality of Engagement – How personal can you get with those individuals?
Does a Direct Selling Representative Need Their Own Facebook Page?
This is a very good question. And no one answer is right for everyone. In order to help your reps answer it for themselves, here are a few things they can consider.
In previous years, it made sense to have a Facebook page for business. It was a great way to keep work and personal lives separate. We didn’t bother people interested in our products with messages about our cats and friends did’t have to hear marketing messages from personal accounts.
In those days, enough followers saw our pages’ posts to make the effort seem worthwhile. But now, organic reach has become so low even for large organizations that a one-person shop doesn’t stand much of a chance of being seen unless they’re willing to shell out advertising dollars.
Also, the best “selling” that happens in social media isn’t about product messages. It’s about engaging and connecting with real people. That kind of engagement is more natural on the personal profile than the page. So there’s no easy answer – at least not anymore.
The Case for Individual Reps Maintaining Their Own Facebook Pages
The Facebook page is still standard issue when it comes to 101 advice about social selling. This works so long as you’re actively posting on a regular basis. It shows up in search, and it’s a way to show that your business has a pulse. Contacts who might not ordinarily need to become a “friend” can like your page and maintain a more distant relationship.
When funds are available for advertising, Facebook’s ad platform can help you introduce yourself to new people in your area who you might not have been able to reach previously.
For the sales rep who is willing to commit to regular posting and maintenance, along with an investment in advertising dollars, it might make sense to have a dedicated Facebook page for his or her business.
Reach: Without advertising spend, reach very minimal on a Facebook page. But when there are advertising dollars to spend, it can help bring in new prospects.
Quality of Engagement: Engagement on a page is not as personal as it is on a profile, but it’s a great way to engage with those who might want to maintain a more distant business relationship.
The Case for a Strictly Organic Social Selling Strategy on Facebook
Since organic reach has nearly disappeared for small businesses on Facebook without advertising spend, a strong case can be made for bypassing the Facebook page completely and using the personal profile.
Reach: The number of individuals reached organically is much higher on a Facebook profile than on a page.
Quality of Engagement: Social selling 101 is all about moving away from marketing speak and building real relationships. This happens much more naturally on a profile than on a page.
Here are a few tips to consider sharing with sales reps who might want to take this approach with Facebook:
- Use your personal profile for business and pleasure. Just like with Twitter Lists, there are a number of ways to slice and dice your friends list on Facebook. If you’re friended by prospects that you don’t know well, create a category for them such as “Business Contacts.” Unlike Twitter, your friends can’t see the names you give these lists.
- Make business pleasure. Direct selling reps are already well aware of the balancing act required to sell into friend circles. Aggressive sales tactics can be hard on friendships whether online or off. Many individuals who choose to become a direct selling rep are already passionate about the products they’re selling. It’s a part of their life. That’s exactly the kind of sharing that succeeds on Facebook. Reps can share pictures of new items proudly displayed in their homes (next to their cat would be a nice touch). They can share their successes, such as hitting a sales goal they’ve worked hard for, which can inspire friends in their own journeys. There are many authentic ways to generate curiosity and excitement about their products without sounding like marketing copy.
- Make sure your posts are seen. Want to make sure your posts show up in peoples’ timelines? Engage with them. Pick a few people you want to reach every day. Go to their profiles and like or comment on their posts. The more you interact with an individual, the more likely it will be that your posts will appear to one another organically.
- Share directly from your company’s Facebook page. You can show off celebrity endorsements, success stories, new product launches and more. Your business is independent, but it shows that you’re tied in to something bigger – something successful and exciting.
Reach and Engagement: The Page vs. Profile Choice
In a perfect world, each sales rep would have both a robust Facebook page as well as a thriving profile with organic connections. But even after all of the best practices are followed and the page is set up, it’s easy to let it fall to the wayside. And an abandoned page can potentially do more harm than an active one can do good. So before diving in, it’s important for each person to consider their resources – money and time, then decide where they’re going to get the most reach and the highest quality of engagement.