Social network marketing: Why most fail; how you can succeed

posted in: Social network marketing | 16

(NOTE — This is the first post in a series on social network marketing.)

Creative Commons License photo credit: jcestnik

Many network marketers (and marketers in general) have tried to use social networking to market their products. And they failed. Failed miserably.

As a result, many in MLM have written off social networking. Given up. Not worth the time, they say.

Good news. They’re wrong.

They’re wrong mostly because they tried to take traditional marketing methods and somehow graft them onto social networking. Even worse, some took traditional network marketing methods that don’t work and transplanted them into social networking.

Charles Heflin, the founder and CEO of SEO 20/20, has expertly pointed out how many businesses mistake social media networking initiatives for social media marketing campaigns. These businesses try to market their products and services in places better suited to social networking.

Heflin says he starts social media marketing campaigns from his blog. He syndicates the content, which greatly enhances its visibility, and then networks with prospects that come to the blog.

Instead of trying to network with hundreds, maybe even thousands, of people who may or may not be prospects, Heflin spends his time networking with people who have responded to his marketing campaign.

It’s like fishing in a small lake with only the fish you want rather than fishing in a huge lake filled with all kinds of fish.

Network marketers would do well to take note of Heflin’s strategy and his success.

Many in MLM cast too wide a net. They dive into Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, YouTube and other sites looking for prospects. These network marketers are under the mistaken impression that the more people they market to, the better off they are.

In this and other ways, the missteps in social network marketing mirror errors made in traditional MLM efforts. Many network marketers are still taught to think of  “anyone who breaths” as a prospect. They are taught the infamous “three-foot rule” — to present their business opportunity to anybody within three feet of them.

Many network marketers wrongly think the busyness of all their social networking efforts will pay off in their business. Then they wonder why hundreds of Facebook friends and thousands of Twitter followers don’t translate to a growing downline.

The reason is simple. MLM is at its heart a relationship business. People tend to get into business with people they know, like and trust. Sending “join my business” invitations to thousands of people does not communicate your openness, likeability or trustworthiness.

Others in MLM take a different approach, marketing their products or services on social networks largely populated by family members and close friends.

Old friends who want to know how you’ve been and family members looking forward to the next reunion don’t want to hear a sales pitch or even a low-key business presentation.

Networkers who prey on friends and family members are a big reason MLM has such bad reputation. When they meet someone new, they automatically think of them as a prospect, not a friend.

Hitting up friends and family doesn’t work despite the general inclination to join people you know, like and trust. This is because friends and family members see the business pitches as an abuse of the trust you had with them.

So sending marketing messages to friends on social networks is a wrong strategy poorly implemented.

OK, we know what doesn’t work. So what does work?

Glad you asked. Here are 10 social network marketing strategies that work. They will be further explored in future posts.

1. Build relationships. You can’t do that everywhere. You can meet people in various places, but it’s important for them to be where you can get to know each other better. That place is your blog.

2. Find the reason you’re in business and share it with others. Share what makes you do what you do. Tell people what’s important to you. Then help other people discover what’s important to them. Make your blog about you, not about your business. Provide valuable content.

3. Help people. Earn their trust. Show them the path to success. People should learn their own way. Interact with them on your blog. When you see they have a need, offer to help.

4. Don’t sell. Care about people. There’s an old saying that’s true here — people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Don’t make your blog or your other relationships about selling. Nine out of 10 people will be immediately turned off if you try to sell them.

5. Approach people where they are. Learn about different personalities. Look at their profiles. Learn about them. Pay attention to the way they interact with you. Then help them get what they want. Don’t try to manipulate them. Just help them.

6. Be up front about your business. Don’t hide what you’re doing. When they ask what you do, tell them. Consider what they’re thinking. Let them get to know you. Let them know, like and trust you. If they’re interested in joining you, help them believe they can do it.

7. Once they join, be sure you have a simple system for them to follow. Show them what you do and teach them how to do it.

8. Take advantage of the advantages you have. These days everyone is looking for ways to “monetize” their blog. They want to know how they can make money on the Internet. You know how. Show them. They’ll join you.

9. Don’t just show people how to make money. Show them how to live. Teach people how to think, not what to think. If you’re opportunity is right for them, they’ll join you. Build a community made up of people who are your business partners and others who just like your blog.

10. Stay focused on your business. Concentrate on your blog — the place where you can network with people. Don’t get sidetracked by money-making schemes that come along. Don’t fall for the myth of multiple streams of income. You’re in this for the long haul. It’s your business. That provides your income. Specialize in it.

Those who are truly great at what they do have a die-hard commitment to it. Find your thing. Commit to it. Blog about it. Make it your business.

Steve DeVane

16 Responses

  1. Cala West

    Hi Steve, thanks for a great article. I totaly agree with you that Social Network Marketing is the way to go for MLM. I think the toughest part for traditional MLM (or affiliated) marketers is to understand that you first have to be able to bring value to a person, before speaking about your product or opportunity. If a person feels that he is getting value from you, trust will begin to develope and then they will search for the button on your website to have a look what you have to offer.

  2. Rhonda Wudarczyk

    What an awesome article. I think the reason MLM has gotten such a bad wrap in any situation is because we all thought it was a sales job. Wrong.
    People join people, not companies. People want to work with those they trust and those that care about them and their future. Social Networks are not there to push products they are there to have relationships with people. You meet so many different people, some you will get along with great, some not so much. But it is nice to know that before being in business together. It is so critical to have a relationship with someone. You can learn just as much from them as they can from you. Great post! Thanks!

  3. nat014

    Great article. You are right so many people uses social network marketing the wrong way. As you mentioned, many people first want to sell something. The ultimate goal is selling and profit but to get there you need to work on your network. Using social network marketing is all about building relationship by bring valuable, entertaining and enlightening content. By bringing value you establish yourself as someone knowledgeable and trustworthy. Once there people will get to your sales offer and buy something from you.
    As Charles Heflin mentions your primary focus should be good quality content. Thanks for your 10 tips.

  4. stevedevane

    @Cala West
    Hi Cala,

    I agree. Providing value is important. If folks aren’t getting value, they aren’t likely to hang around long. It’s the first step in establishing a relationship with them.

    Thanks for the comment.


  5. stevedevane

    @Rhonda Wudarczyk

    You’re right. It’s too bad that so much network marketing training is focusing on sales techniques and ways to “close” people. That’s a certain way to turn people off. And, yes, it is always good to get to know people before you decide whether or not you’d like to be in business with them.

    I appreciate the good words.


  6. stevedevane


    You are correct. Building the relationship is how you build a network. That’s what network marketing is all about.

    And, yes, Charles is on target when he says that quality content should be the focus of your blog. Without good content, few people will visit and even fewer will come back.

    Thanks for contributing to the conversation.


  7. Brenda Bunney

    This is a WONDERFUl article for new and experienced network marketers. I think we all tend to reach out to our friends and family in the beginning.

    It is very hard to now when to draw the line with family and friends at times. Most of the experienced network marketers who help new people get started train them to “make a list of 50 family and friends”

    This article is such a great tool for us all… thanks!

  8. stevedevane

    @Brenda Bunney
    Hi Brenda,

    I think the old method of training to “make a list of family and friends” is a big reason many network marketers fail. They get frustrated after facing that initial rejection. A great number never recover from that initial failure.

    I appreciate your comment.


  9. Web Copywriter

    You’re right. I’ve helped some network marketers with their marketing, and they fail because they try to cast too wide a net.

    What happens is that they get a lot of tire kickers who end up wasting their time.

    What they need are good, solid network marketers who can see that you know what you’re doing and can help them to build their networks. The biggest challenge of network marketing today is simply getting leads, and the old ways of doing it don’t work anymore.

    There are far too many people doing network marketing, and few of them ever make any money. By using social networking properly, you can build your network with like-minded people who ALSO know how to network online.

  10. stevedevane

    @Web Copywriter
    Hey, Copywriter,

    Yes, those tire kickers just end up wasting your time. And as one of my mentors likes to say – if you need a carpenter, why look for a ballerina?

    Thanks for adding to the discussion.


  11. James Stratford @JRStratford (Twitter)

    This article was well written and struck a chord with me since while networking all those things are noticable after awhile. Describing people as casting a wide net is apt. Many of us do that for different reasons and get different results since we do value the relationship above all else. When people understand that later on it’s apt to produce a connection of a valued that is so much higher than if things were just superficial. The great thing is that even if it never does it leaves us with a wonderful community and by following your 10 steps it’ll only get better. 🙂

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