You’ve done it! You’ve started a business! You’ve launched your website and had the ribbon cutting (even if it was a virtual one). And now? You want your business to be a success! While social media has opened LOTS of doors for sharing your product or service with friends, family and strangers from around the world, there are a few items of etiquette to discuss before you inundate your friends with sales pitches. The following tips apply to any kind of business, whether you’re launching a clothing store, just got your real estate license or have signed up with a multi-level marketing company.
1. Keep your personal page personal
Behold the powers of Facebook. Not only are you connected to close friends and family, you’ve now got access to your old college roommate and your ex-boyfriend’s mom at the click of a mouse. Should you choose to share your business with Facebook friends, do so sparingly. Try to keep your personal page for sharing family photos and funny things your kids say. Sharing fifteen posts a day about your business is the quickest way to be unfollowed by your friends! If you can, one of the very first things you need to do once you launch your business is to set up a business Facebook Page, which is ENTIRELY separate from your personal profile page. Invite your friends to “like’ it and try not to be offended when your third cousin’s husband isn’t interested in your line of women’s handbags.
Is it acceptable to announce you’re going to be embarking on a new career? Sure! Is it cool to ask your friends to contact you if they need X service/product? Sure! Just leave it at that and everyone will be happy! The occasional post here and there is fine, just keep it at around 20% of what you share. Now get back to posting photos of baby Ava’s birthday party and videos of dogs stuck in weird positions. That’s what we came to see!
2. Respect your friends
It used to be we just had to dodge our “sale-happy” friends and family in the church parking lot or at family reunions. Now they’ve got us virtually cornered! If your friends are gracious enough to support your entrepreneurial endeavors by following your business page, signing up for your email newsletters or following you on every social media channel known to man, be gentle. Don’t forget, you are not the only person around selling something or trying to launch a business! If I have 20 friends all sharing 20 business posts a day, you can be sure none of them are on my happy list.
3. Give us the info!
Here’s the deal, occasionally there is a product or service I would like to know more about. This is where your website or page really come in handy! By sharing helpful reviews, photos and pricing information, I’m more likely to take the initiative to order myself or ask more questions. If I have to have a personal meeting with you just to find out how much you charge to pet sit, I’m probably moving on.
4. Don’t push.
If you’ve sent two Facebook messages, six emails and left a voicemail or three wanting me to join your team/host a party/hire you to do my taxes and I HAVEN’T REPLIED? Well, take a hint. I’m either A) not interested, or B) interested but don’t have the funds right now. (Here’s a helpful tip, when I do have the funds I’m more likely to contact you if you haven’t harassed me!)
Keep in mind that just because you’re sold on your product or service, it may not be for everyone!
5. Be proactive (in the right ways)
I know you’re excited about your business. That’s important! Your friends want to be excited for you too! A few do’s and don’ts:
- ask your close friends for occasional input on a marketing technique or product review. They’ll appreciate that you asked them!
- share your enthusiasm and product info when asked. If you’re truly looking to make a career, don’t be afraid to share about your business when asked. Be prepared!
- support your other friend’s businesses. Think monthly lunch support groups and co-hosting parties together. Invite others to follow their websites and leave great reviews for them. Hopefully they’ll return the favor!
- add your friends to your Facebook group page WITHOUT asking their permission
- send generic messages to everyone on your friend list with the same sales pitch. A message asking if you can send them some info? Fine- just as long as you accept their answer!
- guilt. It’s great that you want to spend more time at home or get out of debt. But it’s not necessarily the right approach to tell people you want to quit the job you hate so you really need them to buy some lipstick from you. Remember your friends are trying to make a living too. (And maybe, just maybe, they also hate their job!) Don’t use the “help me” ploy to make sales. Unless you’re involved in an actual fundraiser (medical expenses, adoption fees, etc.), stick to solely sharing about your product or service. It should speak for itself!
- monopolize the conversation. While you may think that Suzie asking for prayers for her uncle’s upcoming major surgery is the perfect opening to sell her some skincare products as a “get well soon” gift, you would be wrong. Lend an ear or a hand, don’t make a pitch.
Embarking on a new career is an exciting time and is made all the sweeter by having the support of friends and family. Don’t abuse your friendships or social media privileges and everyone will be just fine! Good luck!