Did you see this article in the New York Times last week? The gist is that the Tupperware party is moving to Social Media. The bastion of MLM sales. The originator of the “burp and seal” container has decided to get into Facebook and Twitter. (OK, they were already there but now there’s going to be more there there).

The times they are a-changing.

The original idea of products like Tupperware and their spawn was to host a party in your home, ply your friends with some white wine and convince them to buy a couple of items. The more ambitious “consultants” built networks and actually made (and make) real money. These were social gatherings designed to co-opt our personal relationships for financial gain.

Yea, that’s a bit cynical but it really is at the core of why someone does this. I experienced this first hand when my wife was a Pampered Chef consultant. (Though I will say that if you are into cooking the Pampered Chef stuff is really good. We didn’t make much money off that plan but we have a lot of cool cookery items…)

We leverage our relationships for financial gain. Isn’t that what you are trying to do for your business or non-profit? Creating and leveraging a relationship with someone in the hopes that you will get them to give you money. A basic business transaction.

The problem is – you can only tap your friends so often. Keep selling and they begin to ignore you.

People are trolling Facebook or scanning Twitter because it is fun. It is a diversion that can border on an obsession. It is up to you to capture their attention and then hold it long enough to where you become part of their routine. That task has become even more difficult in our short attention span world.

As you migrate your messaging and marketing efforts towards Social Media don’t lose sight of the benefits of old school relationship building. If you really want to build a relationship with your customers or donors give them something first and frequently – before you ask for the order.

Rememeber, you don’t have the advantage of plying them with white wine to get them to sign.

Your thoughts?

Steve Allan, Social Media Specialist