In 2003, our friend and mentor Mark Yarnell told us, “If someone could figure out how to build relationships online, they’d build the largest team of distributors in the history of network marketing... because no other medium can match the speed with which it informs people.”

Fast-forward 12 years, and we’re seeing Mark’s words come true. We just completed a case study using proprietary Facebook software to track how 4,000 distributors, between three companies used our Facebook networking tips. In just 24 hours, they drove 208,220 people to their replicated websites from Facebook.

The network marketing community is buzzing about social media. However, it’s actually social networking that gets network marketing distributors bigger results online.

What’s the difference? Social media is about posting and sharing content (images and videos) and then people socially interacting with your content.

Social networking is about meeting and building relationships with people on social media platforms.

That word “relationship” is why social networking and network marketing are best friends. No distributor can succeed if people don’t know, like, and trust her. Social media platforms don’t grow until the people on them like and trust each other.

The exciting part of social networking is scale. You can assemble more people from more places and build more relationships. You can easily create a thriving global distributor team. Then communication is easy—you can keep your team informed and inspired—and even create a culture of leaders!

If we were starting a new network marketing business today, we’d use Facebook to reach out to old and new friends, and to build and deepen the relationship with each person. It’s a simple, natural, and authentic practice. It’s so much easier on Facebook. You don’t have to write down a list of everyone you’ve ever met... let alone try to find their phone numbers!

On Facebook, we would build out our profiles fully so people could easily get to know, like, and trust us. They would see us as a network marketing professional, which would build our influence.

We’d create a Facebook Group to support our existing distributors and give prospects a place to test-drive our business. We’d do a grand public launch of our business on Facebook. We’d reach out to all our existing friends privately with strategic language to move them through the funnel from prospect to sample to customer and/or distributor.

We’d use Facebook’s Graph Search to add more friends to our friends list by focusing on geography and mutual friends, hobbies, and interest. We’d build strong relationships with these new friends by posting quality content and interacting with their posts until they have the kind of relevant life experience that makes them naturally want to try our product or business. We’d make sure our team is duplicating the process. 

Social media is the easiest way in 2015 to brand yourself and build influence. Posting quality content that shows the depth of your knowledge is a great place to start. Follow this up with images and videos that illustrate your teachings.

Make sure you know how you are different and what makes you unique from others. Use your strengths to position yourself as the best person to help others achieve a specific goal or benefit they are hungry for. Be professional.

Network marketing distributors make mistakes on social media all the time. Here are a few of the most common ones we see:

  1. Self-centeredness. Being too focused on what you’ll get out of the relationship. You need to concentrate on how you can help others.
  2. Deception or lying to make yourself look better than you are. Don’t rent a Ferrari, take a picture of you sitting on the hood, then post it on Facebook. Be genuine. People are going to work with you closely long term and you won’t be able to fool them forever. Also, the people who build large organizations of customers and distributors won’t be impressed by materialistic toys. It’s about the relationship between you and them.
  3. Impatience. Don’t push. Be interested in others, their goals, and problems—and let them get interested in you and the opportunity you can offer them. Overselling your product and business just pushes people away.

What does the future hold for network marketing and social media? We humans are horrible at predictions. No one predicted Google or Facebook. No one predicted Netflix eliminating Blockbuster. No one predicted Amazon eliminating Borders. The only thing we know for sure is that something new will come out of nowhere and each time you’ll need to be able to assess if that’s something you should be using. There are always new social media platforms and tools, so don’t let yourself get distracted. Stick to what’s working until you keep hearing about successes with something new, and then look into it.

Social media sites succeed if they can effectively connect friends, family, and those who you would normally be friends with in the offline world if you met them. As technology evolves, what will surely be different is how we build those relationships. Will you take the time and learn what it means to build a relationship online between you and another human being? If so, your success is just about guaranteed in the social media world.

Jim Lupkin and Brian Carter are authors of the new release Network Marketing for Facebook. Having developed social media strategies for companies like NBC, Microsoft, and Universal Studios, as well as the US Army, they have also successfully trained over 100,000 network marketing distributors in how to acquire new customers and business partners, see NetworkMarketingforSocialMedia.com.

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