The Original in Social Media: Amway’s Global Social Network

Facebook has become such a big part of so many lives that it’s easy to forget that it didn’t even exist 10 years ago.

But the activities that advance its cause are nothing new: word-of-mouth marketing and building networks through person-to-person contact. That also happens to sum up the growth of the Amway Corp. since its 1959 founding.

During a recent interview with Jennifer Rooney of Forbes, Amway Chief Marketing Officer Candace Matthews made the parallel between Amway and social media sites like Facebook.

Candace Matthews AmwayIn the wide-ranging Q & A, Matthews observed, “We often say that Amway was the original social network…Before there was any social media, we (had) more than three million distributors across the globe, so that’s a lot of word of mouth.”

In 2007, Matthews was brought aboard Amway after 25 years working for the likes of Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, General Mills and L’Oreal. All are global brands and Matthews has been instrumental in helping Amway develop its own brand along with those of its core product-lines such as Nutrilite and Artistry.

You can see her interview here:

Bill Hawkins, a longtime Amway Diamond and leader in World Wide DreamBuilders, offered the same social-networking insight during a WWDB Spring Leadership several years ago. One of the foremost thought leaders with Amway, Hawkins at the time was chairman of the IBOAI Board.

The gist of his conference remarks: what so many companies are now scrambling to implement has always been Amway’s marketing strategy. For Amway, “doing social media” isn’t some add-on—it’s inherently what Independent Business Owners have always done in the pre-Internet era.

Matthews, by the way, is among a group of top executives that Amway hired in recent years from outside the company—and well beyond the direct-selling industry. As much as the founding DeVos and Van Andel families know this direct-selling business inside-and-out, gaining fresh insights from other top corporate minds has been an invaluable step for Amway.

What has not changed is Amway’s emphasis on one-on-one relationships that proved profitable many years before Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the rest of the social media universe arrived on the scene.

A few years ago, Amway Australia produced an upbeat video that effectively captured this truth.

The video declares that “people and relationships are the core of any successful business” and “social media is the new word of mouth.” The clip also notes the community-building that is part of the Amway experience and packs plenty of relevant business data and trends in a 2-minute span:

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