Crowdsourcing is Key in my Social Media Based Business

Before I discuss crowdsourcing and its necessity in my social media based, direct sales business, let me give a bit of background.  I work for Vantel Pearls as an independent consultant and team leader.  This company began as an in-home party sales company much like Tupperware or Thirty-One Gifts.  However, with Facebook’s invent of the Live Video Streaming feature, Vantel Pearls consultants began to take their parties from the living room to the live video platform, thus allowing them to reach an audience well outside of their local social circle.

During my live videos, the customer makes a purchase, selects the oyster they would like to open, and I shuck the oyster, live, to reveal the pearl inside.  That pearl is then sent to our home office to be set into the jewelry piece they selected and they will receive their jewelry in 2-3 weeks via US Mail.  It may seem simple – Hit the “Go Live” button and voila, everyone in the USA sees your party, hops on, and makes a purchase!  Right?  Well, no.  As a matter of fact, Facebook algorithms make it virtually impossible to reach more than a small handful of even your Facebook friend’s list, much less those outside of your circle.  This is what makes crowdsourcing so important in my business.

Mary Chayco’s book SuperConnected: The Internet, Digital Media, & Techno-Social Life discusses crowdsourcing in depth in Chapter 4.  She says, ” Online attention can take the shape of a single glance at a photo or a more active step: a like, a follow, a share, a comment” (76).  It takes time and effort to build a social media presence.  My business began with my local social circle and a select few of my Facebook friends who had interest in the product and experience I was selling.  I encouraged those friends to host a party with me; they became the “hostess” with the promise of earning free jewelry based upon the purchases made by their friends and family (their circle).  They invited these friends and family members to the party and by doing so, increased my “circle” a bit more.

During my live parties, I spend time engaging with my customers and making sure they are having fun.  I wear silly hats, play games, bring on special guests and offer prizes to buyers as well as to people who SHARE my video on their personal pages.

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Image from: Grad School Pearl Girl VIPs Group Page

By having them comment a phrase with the hashtag sign in front of it  (#Just1morepearl),  I am able to randomly choose a “Share Winner” though FB feature called “Woobox.”  I ask that they make all shares public so that I can verify the share was made once the winner is chosen.

Mary Chayco says, “This is, indeed, a kind of economy, and it is one that has come to matter to many of us.  Attention is attracted as something shared is acknowledged online.  A kind of compensation follows in the form of likes, follows and comments.  More tangible rewards like social connections, jobs, and money can even follow” (76).  Facebook allows me to keep track of likes, shares, and follows via “Insights” that can be found on my Facebook Business Page.  It keeps track of the trends week-by-week so I can see the ebbs and flows in the number of people who are seeing and interacting with my page.

Mary Chayco points out that, “Attention online is subject to increasing returns.  That is, the more one has of it, the easier it is to get more.  …To succeed in such an economy, it helps to create or re-mix attention getting content and then to rapidly capitalize on bursts of attention as soon as they occur in hopes they will follow back and engage in return” (76).  This is something I find myself doing often.  When I change the times I go live, or the prizes I give away on a given night, sometimes my live viewers will jump dramatically.  When they do, I immediately take that cue to mention liking and following my page, joining my VIP group, or signing up to receive my text notifications.  I rev up the energy, start singing – anything to get those people to take it one step further and like or follow my page in hopes that they will, over time, see me pop up in their feed and ultimately, become interested enough to make a purchase.

However, all of this has been more that I can do alone.  Around Christmas, I enlisted the help of four “Admins” to help me run my Facebook Business and VIP pages.  These four individuals are responsible for making posts to increase interaction on my pages during times when I am not live, booting trolls from my live videos who, as Mary Chaco describes them, are “individuals who… “hijack”…and provide extreme, irrelevant responses in an attempt to pull focus away from the…original intent” (74), and sharing my live videos in groups to increase viewers.  I suppose you could say I outsourced crowdsourcing.

In March, Vantel Pearls sent me to Rivera Maya, Mexico in an all expense paid trip for being in the 125 top in sales.  My gratitude went to my customers, because, without their constant shares, post interactions, and purchases, I would not have a business.  While I am certainly not famous nor the absolute top seller in the company, I count my business a success because of my customers’, Admins’, followers’ willingness to share me with their friends and family – their willingness to crowdsource!

About Rebecca Snyder

I am a grad student at UW Stout, a mom to 2 sons (one grown, one almost grown), a homeschool mom, and a pearl girl @ Vantel Pearls. #gradschoolpearlgirl

Posted on September 16, 2018, in Digital, Literacy, Social Media, Technology and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. These visuals really help me see how the business works, and your connections to the Chayko reading are great! Obviously I know of hashtags being created to keep people interested in something from week to week [I’m thinking of television shows of TGIThursdays with show runner Shonda Rhimes], but the going live is still all so new to me, both as an observer and participant. I can’t wait to learn more through your posts this semester!

    I love this statement: “I suppose you could say I outsourced crowdsourcing.” Can you tell us a little more about who you chose to help you and what skills, particularly with Facebook Business and VIP pages [and going live] that you required?

    • Absolutely! I chose my Admins based on a few criteria. First, they had to be “regulars” at my parties. I wanted to make sure they knew how I ran my business and my pages and that they were genuinely interested in my business. I also chose four former customers because I can vouch for their honesty and integrity in dealing with me. In my business, we have what we call “shuck and dashers” – people who come to the party, get swept up in opening an oyster (or ten) and then have a declined form of payment. I am careful to avoid such a situation by running the credit card before I open the oyster. However, I have still experienced the similar dishonesty of people who will order, open, and then call the company to cancel the order – again leaving me with pearls that they never intended to set. And finally, I chose my Admins based on their spoken interest in helping out. Astonishingly, I don’t pay these people – at all. I have offered payment and they have refused! I am really blessed with the four admins that I chose and they have been a wonderful asset to what I would consider my business team.

      • Oh wow–I had no idea you didn’t pay them or that they would need such an insider knowledge of your company. I thought it would be more of a search for Facebook Live experience!

        • Nope -no live experience needed from their end. However, I would absolutely pay a social coach to work me though those algorithms if that was possible!

  2. Hi Rebecca,

    Getting an audience to view video content on a regular basis can be difficult, especially when social media companies change their algorithms. I’m a fan of YouTube videos. Specifically, I like watching makeup tutorials, and many of the YouTubers I watch have been complaining about their views declining.

    Earlier this year, YouTube announced it was changing the way ads are placed on channels. The company also changed its algorithm that decides which videos appear to users.

    I found a Forbes article that has some information about how to improve views on YouTube. These tips provide some insight into increasing online video viewing. Here’s a link to the article: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jaysondemers/2017/12/29/8-secrets-to-grow-your-youtube-channel-in-2018-from-a-youtuber-with-over-550-million-video-views/#9c3cc5328de5

    1) Create videos based on a single topic and keyword.
    2) Optimize the title and description for SEO.
    3) Use a great Thumbnail.
    4) Recommend other of your videos to view.
    5) Organize playlists.
    6) Encourage discussion and engage with your audience.
    7) Keep your related channels on.
    8) Add sub confirmation to all of your YouTube links (?sub_confirmation=1)

    Thanks,

    Angie

  3. Hi Rebecca,

    The visuals you included in this post were really helpful in understanding your business! In my own facebook channels I see videos similar to what you’re describing fairly often. You mentioned Woobox as a tool you use in your business, what does that help you with? When you were referencing it you talked about how it helped you choose a winner from the comments, but does it have other features? In my department we’ve been playing around with the idea of running a social media content or giveaway of some type but haven’t quite figured out the best way to do it. It seems like this add on might be of use.

    I think for anyone managing a business run on social media it’s critical to (as you say) “outsource crowdsourcing.” It is a lot to manage alone particularly when you’re running these live videos AND trying to manage the trolls in the comments. Keep up the good work!

    Brittney

  4. Hi Rebecca,
    One of the things that sticks out to me about social media is that it takes a lot of work to keep it up. It’s not necessarily an easier way to reach people, it’s just another way to reach the people who are engaged in this type of communication. By describing how you have made social media work for your business, you have showed this. You also showed how it pays off! I know people who have had similar home businesses for years, and some of them are struggling while others are prospering. Those who are prospering are embracing and using social media.

    You did a terrific job of showing, by example, how crowdsourcing works in social media. It brought the topic to life for me. However, I would have liked to see some contrasting opinions. Are there people you know who have similar businesses and are doing well without leveraging crowdsourcing through social media? What are the demographics of those who can be reached through crowdsourcing? Are there situations where it becomes so much work to maintain that it is not worth the benefits?

    Thank you for your insight on this topic! I enjoyed it.

    Lisa

    • I do not know of anyone in my particular business who does not crowdsource on social media. It is near impossible to reach outside of our social circles without it. Sorry I can’t be of more help with the contrasting opinions.

      Rebecca

  5. Rebecca,

    First off, I admire you for keeping a business alive with Facebook’s difficult algorithms. I have to write advertisement copies for Facebook and it is always such a pain. The rules & algorithms you have to follow to make a successful advertisement can feel like jumping through hoops.

    This post was incredibly insightful because I have never thought of using Facebook’s live streaming service for something like this – nor have I heard of anything like it before! It is incredibly interesting!

    Growing up, my mom always had an Avon representative drop off catalogs or sit in our living room and sell their merchandise. Your post has made me wonder if Avon, and businesses like theirs, could also take advantage of Facebook’s live streaming service. Maybe they already have!

    How long do you have to stream you live parties? Do you have to stream for a couple of hours or is it a shorter time period? Great post!

    • Hi Jeffrey,

      Many businesses have now turned to using Facebook live video streaming for all or part of their sales. I know that Younique presenters often do make-up tutorials of their products. While they are not directly selling during those videos, they very much use the live streaming to increase their circles and advertise products.

      My videos usually last 3-4 hours. Facebook gives you 4 hours before it cuts you off and you are forced to begin a new live feed. Of course, Facebook also likes to randomly end the video mid-live and has lots of glitches and issues nightly to go along with all of its good features.

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