Social Media is Amway

multi-level marketing social media

multi-level marketing social mediaYes, I’m convinced of it; social media (SM) is Amway. After reading a blog post by Jay Baer (@jaybaer) last week, entitled ‘Blinded by the White,’ I’ve been mentally engrossed in a thought that – not unlike other industries – social media leaders have emerged and surprise, surprise they look alike! While I slightly disagree that social media is a good ol’ boys’ club akin to the NRA in it’s pastiness, I do feel as though there is an elitism and social strata that I’ve yet to figure out.

A good friend, and social media mafia under boss of sorts, David Murray, had a different take on Jay’s post, though. He noted that there is diversity but posed the question of whether or not SM is the new country club. I tend to be more in line with this type of thinking about SM. I don’t see the industry as closed off to minorities and women so much as I see there being an elite group of practitioners receiving the bulk of the benefit of SM – trickle down social-nomics, if you will.

I’ve had this idea for a while, but Jay’s post and Dave’s comments really helped crystallize the thought for me. There are some excellent social media practitioners from every demographic in this space. However, there are only a select few that get the benefit of what I like to call the echo chamber of SM. Given that this medium is naturally set up so that anyone can inexpensively gain scale, why is it so difficult to break through? There are likely two reasons this is true.

  1. Like Amway, the first and biggest suck up all the value and leave their followers fighting over scraps. Unless those followers can create their own sphere of influence, they’ll forever be a victim of being too low in the “down line” to effectively monetize the medium.
  2. The elite have built a network to make sure their revenue streams are interconnected and thusly less susceptible to the publics’ cyclical undulations of relevance and popularity. By them promoting each other we continue to buy all of their books, go to their conferences, pay their speaking fees and read their blogs.

Don’t misunderstand my bluntness here, either. I’m not knocking the hustle, merely pointing it out as a matter of human nature and fact. No matter how great of a post I write, why would a Chris Brogan or Amber Naslund read it, promote it or even have the time to do so?! They’re busy and I don’t offer enough value for them to take that time. I make time/benefit decisions every day in my work, and am sympathetic to the plights of busy people.

The rub, however, is in the rhetoric. It is difficult for me to see posts about engagement, sharing and community, by the leaders of the movement, but little reciprocation. Instead, I feel like I’m 10 years old again, and I can hear my Dad saying, “do as I say, not as I do” while peering authoritatively over the top rim of his glasses. The elite benefit by massive followers sharing their material, therefore building up their social influence and allowing them to capitalize – handsomely – on that influence. However, there are very few times that I have seen or felt the tug up the ladder.

Hey if I was the Steve Van Andel or Doug De Vos of SM, I wouldn’t have time for you peons either. Luckily this is not a goal of mine but I would like to see growth by some of the other smart people in SM I know. So, it would make sense to put down our sycophantic ways and begin to create new networks that support quality individuals that have simply not gotten the traction from the faction.

Who’s with me!? If so, please Tweet this and tell people how awesome I am; I hear it’s great for my social street cred. Not to mention, if you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours. No, seriously, I’m not big enough to ignore you yet.

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Facebook Fans

Facebook ValueIf you regularly check the tech blogosphere, then you’ll notice that there has been an increased focus on the value of Facebook Fans to businesses. The catalyst to much of this discussion is a report from Syncapse, entitled “Value of a Facebook Fan.” I’m intrigued by the dollar value study of a tool that should be used mainly for PR purposes, so I delved into the 18 page report and scrutinized it for you.

The fundamental question is, whether any of this information can help change behavior to increase profits or brand affinity scores through Facebook efforts. Here are my thoughts:

Product Spending
Syncapse noted that, on average, Facebook Fans spend $71.84 more than Non-Fans, annually. It is also true that the value difference is highly variant – depending on the brand – from a few thousand dollars to zero. Having a knowledge of this stat for your brand can be important in understanding purchase behavior of hand raisers in general, more than Facebook Fans in particular.

Brand Loyalty
Facebook Fans average a 28% higher likelihood to continue using brands they Fan. This is not surprising, and can probably be tied more to brand/product health than the value of a Fan. While the act of Liking, Friending, and Fanning are low impact, the effect on your News Feed (Facebook’s Real-Time updates) can be great – annoying even. Therefore, people that Fan a brand must be doing so for one of two reasons. First, they want to receive discounts and specials. Second, they want to stay informed on the happenings of your brand. Neither of those delineate much about the dollar value of that fan.

Propensity to Recommend
This I believe to be the most important online statistic when discussing brand performance and Fan valuation. Syncapse found that Fans were 41% more likely to recommend brands they “Liked” to their network than non-fans. Matched with a study from Econsultancy last July, that stated “90% of people online trust recommendations from people they know; 70% trust opinions of unknown users,” indicates a higher dollar value of a Fan.

When I think of my own behavior online, I realize that whenever I’m unsure of product or brand differences, I bring it to my network and almost blindly take the most popular advice from subject matter experts. Therefore, it is obvious that it is very important to build a well informed fan base, if you’re hoping to use Facebook for market penetration.

Brand Affinity
Syncapse found that 89% of Fans felt positive feelings toward the brand, compared with 49% of non-fans. This stat may explain the higher likelihood of repeat purchases and propensity to recommend. Obviously, depending on your business, this qualitative measurement can vary quite a bit but also may only indicate a predisposition to the brand due to the fact that they’ve already stated their “Like” of your brand through the simple act of becoming a fan.

I feel as though this report served to put some substantive numbers behind assumptive estimations rather than any actionable dollar value analysis. I did learn that I have an opportunity to greatly increase my evangelists, which can lead to greater sales and increased revenue. So, the most important thing to do with a Fan Page could be to increase your Fans’ knowledge about your brand so that they can become your best salespeople. Plus, they can help you become more transparent and liked (in the general sense) which means only positive in the important world of online recommendations.

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Podcasting?

Recently, I was lucky enough to be able to speak about my views on “The Value Equation” for businesses in digital marketing. I had never done a podcast before, but found that I really enjoyed being a part of it. In the podcast, on Portage Digital Media, we discussed the changes on Facebook, matching messages to an emotional connection, and the pitfalls of the “freemium” model. Central to the conversation was, “why do people pay me money for what I’m doing”?

I don’t know if this will become a regular thing, but I hope people will check it out because there is some great value interspersed with fun and jokes. David Lingholm and Jeremiah Staes of Portage are some smart guys that get it, when it comes to making money and communicating value properly.

Please check it out and tell us what you think. I truly hope you enjoy. And as always, be brilliant.

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