Remember when internet dating was taboo? It wasn’t that long ago. Now, almost every single person I know is on Match, OKCupid, JDate, etc. I know these sites are familiar to you because you have either been on them or your friends have been on them. The first computer relationship matchmaker was developed in Cambridge, MA in the 1960’s when computers were roughly the size of my bedroom. But the matchmaking profession dates back so long that it is difficult to find a starting a point.
Now let’s switch from talking about love to talking about money. Here’s the thing – friends selling to friends is as old a profession as matchmaking. Social media is just a new platform for economies and marketplaces. If you think that socializing is separate from sales, think again. People who work in corporate marketing know that THE strongest driver of sales is “word of mouth.” What is Facebook? It is the fastest “word of mouth” conversation the world has seen yet (besides Twitter, which to me is infuriatingly fast – just this lady’s opinion). It baffles me that Yelp has grown as popular as it has resting upon reviews from complete strangers.
Maybe I’m writing this post so that I can feel like I have your permission to participate in the social media marketplace. Maybe. But I think what I’m writing about is the removal of stigma – just like the online dating world makes sense for us today – and folks, not only in America, but globally – social media sales and social sales are about to blow up! If it isn’t already in your FB feed just wait a few more months. Some friend or another will be promoting nail wraps, jewelry, classes, or services via Facebook.
I don’t know each individual person’s reason for entering social media sales. What I know is what it is like to be a mom trying to spend some quality time with her kids and husband. I started my career as a high school teacher and I loved my job! When I was engaged to be married I moved into school marketing so I could still be with students all day, but I could get paid more and I wouldn’t have to spend hours every night correcting essays. Again, I loved my job! I had kids and went back to graduate school. I finished graduate school with two masters degrees, two kids, and graduate loans upward of 70K. My degrees were in the humanities – not traditional moneymaking fields. And here’s the other rub…traditional moneymaking fields aren’t necessarily moneymaking fields when you are right out of university. It can take a long of time to build a resume, a business, or a reputation.
Was I naive? Yes. Did I lead a life of privilege? Some would say so. Was I just trying to do my best to educate myself, take care of my family, and take another step along a career path? Absolutely! None of that matters when a teacher (in this case me) goes back into the classroom (which she loves!) and tries to lead a balanced life in which she is making payments toward debt, carving out time for connecting with her partner, nurturing her children, and staying mindful. I was NOT going to be able to make that happen selling soap on Etsy (I buy soap on Etsy sometimes, mind you I am not hating on Etsy – love you Etsy!). I got to the point where I realized that I would need to imagine and design for myself.
Some of your friends are trying to sell things on Facebook to make an additional income in a profession where there is a salary scale that hits a ceiling no matter how hard you work (like teaching) because most of the profit made by an individual in sales is income based on commission where there is no “cap.” Some of your friends are exhausted and they want to switch careers, but can’t figure out how to do that smoothly without some transition time. Some of your friends are trying to pay back student loans faster so the interest doesn’t swallow them whole. Some of your friends want to feed their children healthier food, which costs more – weird, I know. Some of your friends tried a product that one of their friends sold on Facebook and they liked it so much they wanted to share it because they felt it made their life better! The American economy is built on the idea that products can improve lifestyles and sometimes that is true. Didn’t you see the movie “Joy”? If you didn’t, I highly recommend you see it as soon as possible (Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Isabella Rossellini, and Robert DeNiro are a recipe for fantastic).
Social media business and social sales online are going to follow the same path as internet dating. It will happen over the next five years. You want your social media completely isolated from the global economy? Then create the next new social app according to your tastes and boundaries…but keep in mind that you’re going to have to market, sell, and distribute your app. I’m not quite sure how you are going to do that without using social media – maybe at the county fair? I’m glad we had this little chat. I welcome comments and responses.