Q&A with John Oates
In our July issue, we introduced our DSN Digital 100 of the top companies who have a sound digital strategy. John Oates, Founder of JPO Digital, and the VP of Digital Marketing for SUCCESS Partners, helped us gather the data for that list. I recently sat down with him to get a little more insight into how direct selling companies can better leverage their digital traffic.
Why don’t you touch on a few of the key points of how you gauge whether a company has an effective digital strategy?
Digital strategy, social media specifically, and direct sales should go hand in hand. Both industries are reliant on one-toone engagement—as well as connection, communication and content. Oftentimes, I feel like direct selling companies and even distributors shy away from this one-to-one engagement. Then even worse, it’s oftentimes misused, because people don’t know how to use it. So, it turns into a shotgun blast of “Check out my product/click here to buy my product” and that can come across as spamming.
“…while social media size is important, if it’s not accompanied by a comparable or impressive engagement rate, size doesn’t really matter.”
The four key metrics of a sound digital strategy are: social media size, social media engagement (those people engaging with that page within a 30-day period), unique visitors to the website, and page views on the website. Once people get to your site—how active are they? Are they leaving after viewing one page? Or are they sticking around and looking at ten pages— which kind of gives us an idea of how sticky a site is. These four categories give us the total for the DSN Digital 100 list, and we feature the top 25 in each category each month.
What are some of the myths when it comes to social media size and engagement?
We live in an age now where size is perceived as influence. Everybody wants to have a huge following and boast a big number—and that’s certainly important to some degree. Having that big number gives site visitors a sense of wow— this is an established company. So size is definitely important. I cut my teeth at Vayner Media as one of the first 10 employees hired there, and engagement is everything to Gary Vaynerchuck. So, while social media size is important, if it’s not accompanied by a comparable or impressive engagement rate, size doesn’t really matter. I would rather have 100,000 people that care about what I’m saying than have 10 million followers that are passive. Those hundred thousand engaged people can have a much greater impact than 10 million people that don’t care about what you’re saying.
“…people look at social media as this magic sauce that everything they post will end up going viral. And it just doesn’t work like that. You need to have consistent engagement and rapport with people to ultimately get them to take the action that you want them to take.”
How can our channel better leverage their social media traffic?What other opportunities exist, that maybe our channel isn’t really thinking about right now?
I think it’s important to engage those who are more focused on products, science, and benefits. Because that slow conversion can turn an interested and engaged follower into a customer. Social media is simple, but it’s not easy. It takes very consistent daily engagement to maintain a consistent engagement rate, and it takes balance. Consider what you are posting daily that’s meant to educate and what are you posting that is meant to have an impact on your sales. A lot of times, people look at social media as this magic sauce that everything they post will end up going viral. It just doesn’t work like that. You need to have consistent engagement and rapport with people to ultimately get them to take the action that you want them to take.
What tips do you have for companies in working together with their distributors when it comes to making sure their individual social media message is somewhat consistent with the company’s message?
Creating a guardrails document that very clearly outlines what your distributors can say—and what they can’t say. If you’re looking for content, here’s content that we’ve created and approved for you. Content that is compliant with community guidelines, but still hits the message. Here’s how to share it. This is how we would like you to talk about the products, and here’s the correct way to use these platforms.
I think the industry gets a bad rap of distributors being spammers on social media. It’s not that they’re spammers it’s because they don’t know how to use the platforms, or haven’t been taught the correct way to use social media. So I think that by putting some effort into education and putting up these guardrails, distributors will see a lot more gains from their social media presence.