Scroll through your Facebook news feed and count how many multi-level marketing (MLM) posts there are. I personally see posts from about twelve different companies at the moment, and that isn’t counting the sales posts from the Buy/Sell/Trade groups I follow. Facebook, Instagram, and similar social media sites have become prime platforms for Friend-2-Friend (F2F – yeah, I know it’s “face-to-face,” but humor me) marketing strategy implementation. And why not? It’s easy to use, you already have an audience, and it’s free for the most part. Industries from real estate to home goods, financial firms to cosmetics, and craft retailers to dental offices use social media to market their businesses.
RachRiot – one of the awesome bloggers at ScaryMommy – wrote an on-point, albeit somewhat harsh, article about this topic recently. She received a lot of backlash from her post, from people who were offended by the way she called out those who subscribe to a MLM/pyramid scheme as a source of income.
Here’s the thing… I’m not going to unfriend you for advertising your MLM business on Facebook. I probably won’t even unsubscribe to your feed. I’m perfectly capable of ignoring the party requests and scanning over an occasional shared photo or meme for your product. I can even overlook the “private message” (in quotes, because as personal as you’re trying to make it seem, I know you’re sending the same message to half your friends list) sent to me from someone who hasn’t spoken to me personally in over a decade. So why write this post?
When you have to push your product that hard on your personal social media feeds, you’re doing something wrong. I’m sure that your company is telling you to do, but step away from the kool-aid for a second to think this over. You’re making a “business” by mining your friends list for prospects. Let’s be clear – I put the word “business” in quotes because as much as you want to call your self an entrepreneur, or momtrepreneur, presenter, consultant or whatever buzz-word or title you choose to use, what you really are is a contracted sales representative or account manager. This isn’t your business. This is their business – they created the product, manufacture it, design the marketing, and distribute it (to you or your customers, however your set-up works). Part of their marketing strategy? You, of course. Because they know that you already have an audience to talk to. All you’re doing is recruiting their next customer for them, and keeping in touch with the people who have purchased from you to see if they want to buy more, or to start selling on their own. You can go to the conferences and listen to the speeches and take in the empowering slogans that were written to make you feel inspired – to sell their product.
If you ever applied for a job and submitted a resume that included an MLM and you titled yourself a Momtrepreneur or Business Owner, or whatever the company who created the product you sell wants you to call yourself, I doubt you’d even make it to the pre-screening phone call. Why not? Your ‘work from home opportunity’ requires some of the same skills a W-2 job needs – marketing, public relations, customer service, and even accounting in some companies. The problem is that you’re deluding yourself when you think that by buying into an MLM you’re really “starting a business.” You’re not. You’re a sales rep for someone who actually was an entrepreneur – a person who organizes and operates a business, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so. Someone who had the vision to create this company you work with, who took on the financial risk to establish it, who develops products to keep you selling, and who determined that direct, F2F marketing would be the best way to sell the product. Employers know this and if, for whatever reason, in the future you get tired of being a contracted account manager with no benefits and decide to join the rest of corporate America, then I beg of you – don’t add this to a resume. Not unless you call it what it is. (I really could write a whole other post on this, because I’ve seen some resumes that have this type of position listed – and they’re serious about it – which makes me cringe. Maybe another time… )
In the mean time, while you continue to be a part of the advertising team for whatever company you’re contracted with, please remember that direct sales does not have to take over every aspect of your life – or your social media presence. Yes, ask any good marketer and they’ll tell you that repetition and consistency can create top-of-mind awareness and build your brand. But ask anyone who has ever had too much of a good thing and they’ll tell you that having your news feed filled with videos of clumpy mascara, pictures and memes of nail wraps, body wraps, magical weight-loss drinks, pills, and patches, bags, and jewelry gets really old, really fast. I’m sure you love your company’s product, and want everyone to share in the joy that is an MLM. But please, for the sake of our friendship – tone it down a little. Maybe, like, one post a day instead of 10? Can we do that?
I’m not saying any of this to be rude. Really, I’m not. I congratulate anyone who takes initiative to make money and support their family. And by all means – set up a page for your business, invite friends to ‘like’ it, and market your business. But please, please, please…stop posting about your ‘business’ five times a day. We love you, and we want to be your friend so we can see what’s going on in your life – not be subjected to a sales pitch at every post.