If you weren't a kid in the suburbs, you might not understand my headline, but those of us who grew up in the 70's (yea, I'm that old!) had a friend or neighbor who sold Amway and you know what I'm talking about. But here's a little explanation for those that don't know what I mean.
Amway sold a number of household products that, I understand, could be quite good. But, they didn't sell them in any retail environment, they were sold by people to their friends and neighbors. And the people selling made money two ways:
- Through the actual sales of products. They got a commission on everything they sold.
- By recruiting new people to become sales people. If I got you to join, then I also received a very small portion of your sales and, as you recruited people, I got smaller pieces of everything they sold as well.
So, if you sold Amway, you were always trying to sell product and recruit new salespeople so you could make more money. I mean, it was cool and I guess people made good money. But you knew that every time you saw someone who sold Amway, a pitch was nearby.
And everyone knew at least one person who never stopped looking for a sale, You knew that no matter where you saw them they were just waiting for that moment to make a pitch. And you were screwed if you ever gave them an opening, say by complaining about how your favorite shirt was ruined because of a stain or something like that because they would launch into a sales pitch before you could finish what you were saying!
And eventually, you might start to look for reasons not to hang out with the person. I mean, who wants to get sold all the time??? And if they were particularly aggressive, you never wanted to introduce them to more of your friends because you knew they would be relentlessly sold and you would gear all of those complaints.
Which brings us back to advertising and social networks. Advertisers are becoming the Amway of social networking. Always selling to us and always looking for our help in recruiting new people to sell. The pitches can be relentless and, like Amway, although it can sometimes be a great product that I could actually use, eventually I don't want to be your friend anymore just so I can avoid the sales pitch. And I really don't want the embarrassment that comes when you look for my help in selling to my friends.
But, all of the can be avoided by just doing what you do well and letting me come to you. If I saw some friends making lots of money selling Amway, then I'd come looking for you. And I'd be a true evangelist for your product or service. But, if you never shut up and you interrupt every aspect of my social life with you sales pitch, I'll eventually stop hanging with you. Even if you're a good product. It's just not that much fun to be sold all the time.
So while it's probably a good idea to be looking at and engaging social networks, please don't become the annoying Amway salesperson. Give me the chance to figure out how to engage you and let that be a natural process. You'd be surprised at how successful that approach can be.