As I’ve mentioned before, my company provides community management services for direct selling companies. What this means is that we manage the day to day of a company’s social media presence, from writing and posting content to responding to comments on Facebook, Twitter, etc. (to monitoring and reporting as well). And it gives me a very up close and personal view on the way that consultants treat their companies on the company Facebook Page.
And the conclusion that I’ve come to is that some consultants feel exceptionally entitled, and think the company Facebook Page is the place to “stick it to the company” if they don’t get exactly what they want, when they want it. Which is of course damaging not just to that consultant’s own business, but to the business of every consultant in the company.
For example, I recently saw a consultant complain about difficulty with inputting an order. The Facebook Page admin directed her to the proper path to report the problem. She responded by saying that she had tried that but didn’t want to wait on hold and so came to the Page instead. And nothing the company posted in response made any difference. She just continued to complain. Repeatedly.
The problem with that approach is that the people administering the Page could do nothing about the problem. So all she did was damage the credibility of the company with her complaints. What a foolish thing to do! Plus, she was trying to jump over all the consultants who WERE using the proper channels and waiting their turn, hoping she was noisy enough that she would get taken care of first.
How amazingly inappropriate.
When you become a direct seller, you become part of a team. And that means working to build up your company, and all the people in it. You do this because you know that by building up everyone, your own business prospers. It’s how the model works. So when we see behaviors like the one I just described, it’s destructive. It breaks down the model. Which can lead to irreparable damage to the company, and by extension, your business.
Why on earth would you want to do that?
Direct sales companies, train your sales-force on the consequences of complaining on the company Page, and direct your folks to the appropriate channels. Leaders, make sure you’re providing this same training, and not tolerating even one instance of inappropriate behavior. Consultants, counter every negative you see online with a positive, and contact your friends offline about their posts if necessary.
The health and well-being of your company, and your business, is at stake.
The problem with rants about bad behavior by direct sellers in social media is that it’s the same people reading them, and chances are you’re not the problem. Instead, the bad behavior is caused by people who are either ignorant of social media etiquette, or they really don’t care to get themselves educated.
For example, recently a consultant posted that she was happy she had been receiving product so fast from her company. Another consultant jumped in and complained that she wasn’t receiving it as fast and that an order of hers hadn’t shipped yet (she’d only ordered it a few days before.) Turned a beautiful positive into a big fat negative. I’ve also seen consultants complain that there aren’t enough new products, that they don’t like what has been discontinued, they don’t like certain color patterns, they want different sampling options and sizes…the list goes on. And while some may be legitimate feedback it does not belong on the company Facebook Page for customers to see!
So what do we do?
There’s a few things.
- Companies must provide training on social media etiquette, and incentivize the completion of that training. Companies should also add social media tips to monthly newsletters, calls, etc.
- When consultants behave badly on social networks, they need to be contacted personally by someone in the company. Explain to them how they could better direct their feedback through appropriate channels, and the negative impact that could occur from posting out in public. 9 times out of 10, people are just posting from their guts, and not thinking.
- Leaders need to train their downlines. Make it a regular part of training meetings. Set an expectation for behavior, and personally coach when someone makes a misstep.
- All consultants should counter any negative post they see in public about the company with a positive. This is your responsibility as a representative of the company. Don’t just let the negative hang out there for all the world to see.
Will we ever achieve 100% compliance? Probably not. But if each consultant takes ownership for the people he or she is connected with, we can make a big difference (whether they read this or not).