Being an entrepreneur is lonely…being responsible for making decisions that affect the lives or your family and employees’ families is isolating — but being a network marketer with a direct sales company is based on social connectivity…it is the opposite of lonely — it is interpersonal engagement. Direct sales success depends on the relationships you build and those relationships come from finding your tribe.
When people get into selling products on social media they often try to please and attract everyone. That leads to pleasing and attracting no one. So how do you go about attracting your tribe?
To help you understand, it is helpful to know a little backstory as to who I am and how I got here. As a young man in the 1980’s, I was a rebel. I wore punk rock clothing had spiky colored hair and safety pins for earrings. I was completely outside the establishment.
When I became a more mature adult within “The Establishment” framework, I found that my appearance affected my success and as I matured I left that rebelliousness completely behind and became very conservative in my appearance, I worked hard and built a reputation as a smart and dependable employee and started climbing the ladder with my employer.
After a while, I leveraged my reputation to broker a deal to obtain a franchise location and my wife and I built a business from 1 to 8 locations and 22 employees in under 5 years and the business flourished…until it didn’t.
The government changed the healthcare laws, the insurance companies changed how they reimbursed us for our services, and our franchisor filed for bankruptcy.
My wife is a Registered Nurse and I am a former substance abuse counselor and we were unprepared to deal with changes in the legal and business environment that our business depended on.
My wife was scared about our financial situation and didn’t want to have to go back to the stress of working in a hospital…so she turned to a direct sales company for a second source of income while I worked at stabilizing the business we had built.
Honestly, I thought she was spinning her wheels and I wasn’t really happy that she was focusing her efforts on playing network marketer while I was busy trying to save the “real” business. But, while I wasn’t looking, she built a real and stable business and she did it by attracting her tribe on social media.
I noticed her success and came to realize that the skills I used to scale our other business would also translate to her direct sales business and it was actually a much more stable business model than the one we had built in the medical field. So I jumped in with both feet and went to work helping her scale her business.
She built the business to 5 figures in monthly product sales by herself over the course of 18 months and after I came on board we had tripled her revenue within 8 months using the marketing skills I learned building our previous business. The base of that success has been in building a tribe of kindred souls.
So we have come full circle and my wife and I are now able to be ourselves without worrying about a supervisor or business partner disapproving. Our personalities have become an asset. Her hair is alternately blue or purple depending on her mood when she sees her stylist. I have grown a beard to my chest and have given up wearing pants most of the time (opting for shorts, t-shirts, and flip-flops). My rebellious roots have reappeared, but tempered with reason, compassion, and maturity. We have also built a Facebook group of people interested in our product but who are even more interested in us as people.
The question you are probably asking at this point is “How did you do it?”
The answer is that we have done it through embracing who we are and being authentically ourselves so that we attract the people to us that genuinely like us. In backing away from corporate life, we have both “let our hair down” and become much more conformable with ourselves, our eccentricities, and our idiosyncrasies. By being open with our audience about who we are and what we are like and by allowing them a glimpse into our lives we have become attractive. Through text, videos and images they can see my wife’s bold fashion, our playful banter, my casual vibe, our love for our pets and they know about things going on in our lives… by publicly announcing our values and beliefs, we have attracted people who are like us…or who are not like us, but who aspire to be like us,…or who are not like us and don’t aspire to be like us, but who somehow feel connected to us. Through our social media posts and live videos and we have also repelled the people who do not like or us or with whom our story does not resonate.
Then by getting to know those people we attract and by being genuinely interested in them, we have forged relationships beyond the products we sell. We have learned about and like the people in our Facebook group in the same way they have learned about and like us.
When someone is struggling through a life event we rally around them, when someone is celebrating a triumph we celebrate with them, and when someone hasn’t been present lately we reach out to make sure they are okay and we do it all within the context of our product-sales-centered Facebook group.
So when a person in our group needs a product and they can get something comparable from Walmart, Amazon or Nordstrom or they can purchase it from us, where do you think they are going to shop? Yep…they are going to buy from us every time they have the option because Walmart doesn’t care that their 16-year-old dog had to be put to sleep but we understand their pain, we care, and we comfort them — not because we are selling to them but because we have forged genuine relationships. And they are there for us, too.
You may be wondering how your tribe finds you….
Your people are going to find you based on what you post on social media. Social sites are primarily text-based search engines. So the things you post give the algorithms an indication of what you are about and the things your customers post provide an indication of what they are about.
If I am posting about product “X” and I also post about The Rolling Stones going back on tour at age 75 and I post about dog rescue charities and someone is searching for product “X” on social media and they have previously posted about The Rolling Stones and Dogs, we are a more relevant match for them than someone who is only posting about the product. And that person is much more likely to become part of our tribe.
All of the social media platforms have one interest in common: they want to help people forge relationships on their platform to make the platform more valuable to those individuals, leading to increased time spent on the platform and, therefore, creating more ad revenue. It makes sense, then, that someone whose posts were similar to my posts and who was looking for my product would see me at the top of their search results instead of my competitors because, in the long run, it is more lucrative for the platform for us to find each other and forge a bond.
In light of all this, attracting your tribe comes from putting who you are and what you care about out there on display so that kindred spirits can locate you. To give this a structure, I recommend that you choose your “pillars” — the things that most define who you are on social media.
Your pillars can be hobbies, causes, beliefs, nostalgia — anything you like or dislike that you can post about (without being hurtful or disrespectful to anyone). The framework for posting is to choose 5 to 7 pillars that most define you and make those the focus of the majority of your posts.
So, if you are really into Star Wars, have 2 Great Danes, eat a keto diet, hate sports, have a hard time committing to intimate relationships and you love muscle cars, that is what your posts should contain…with a sprinkling of product posts. You efforts should be focused on trying to create a Facebook group of similar people who can identify with you through your posts.
With social selling, the selling should be secondary to the relationships. The tribal bonds you create will lead to sales naturally but the sales do not lead to those tribal bonds naturally. If you want to increase your relevance to your audience, it is important to build that audience out of people who know, like & trust you. That happens when you are genuinely you in your posts (warts and all). You create a tribe of others through genuinely being yourself on social media — not by trying to be everything to everyone.