There’s a scene in the movie, “The Truman Show,” where Truman and his wife, Meryl, are arguing. He’s becoming increasingly suspicious of his surroundings, and she’s becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the ruse and finding it difficult to continue.
A pivotal moment in the scene is when, in the midst of a very emotionally charged conversation, Meryl grabs a can of cocoa and flips into product placement advertising mode. It’s odd, jarring, and utterly inappropriate for the moment.
Are You Using Your Friends?
Social media is starting to feel like this. In the midst of a serious conversation where real learning, connection and listening is happening, someone grabs a can of cocoa and goes all smiley and #ad hashtag on you. It’s every bit as jarring and inappropriate as Meryl’s cocoa commercial.
I see this most often with multi-level marketing companies. I see, time and again, post after post, personal relationships and friendships being leveraged to make sales. Being on the receiving end of these posts and invites, the high pressure to sell the goods under the guise of “Hey! Aren’t these cool? I just love my ________. You want some? Do you want to sell some?” adds a barrier between friends. Every interaction becomes, “are you going to try to sell me something?” I recall recently seeing a friend’s Instagram account suddenly go from enjoyable pictures of life moments to photo after photo of essential oil blends all accompanied by an endless stream of hashtags.
Before social media caught on in such a significant way, the hostess would throw a party, and it was one evening or day out of the attendee’s life. Now, we are bombarded with daily advertisements. Think Meryl with the cocoa. This is called “interruption marketing.” A potential customer has to stop what they’re doing to deal with the marketing message. So when a MLM rep starts getting your stream full of advertisements, what is really happening is that rep is forcing their friend – and potential customer – to “deal” with the post in some way. Ignore, unfollow, exit a group they were added to without permission, turn off notifications, scroll past…you get the idea. If you are a MLM rep, is this what you want? To be ignored, unfollowed, dumped?
How SHOULD you do it?
There are ways to be successful in MLM companies that don’t burn your friendship bridges down. Coralie Lynch, a friend and rep for Pure Romance, was kind enough to give me some insight into how to build a successful business with a MLM company:
“After nervously going into direct selling in 2003, not wanting to be one of ‘those women’, I decided I wouldn’t be. Pushy direct sellers give us all a bad name. My circle was just friends at the beginning, and not very many. I did not push them. I held a party, my friends came, my sales were really low, and I didn’t book any parties. I kept at my business, always putting my relationships before my sales. The main reason for my success, I believe, is that my clients and my team know I am never going to make them feel uncomfortable or obligated into purchasing or selling. I am proud of the business I have and encourage other direct sellers to put their relationships before their sales. Do unto others. That’s what creates loyalty in your client base. When you put their needs before your own, you will both win.”
So think about your social media streams. How many times do ads come across your streams that you fly by? When you put an ad up under the guise of simply sharing your life, are you being honest? Passive selling in such a way is as annoying as pushy selling.
I understand the strong desire to have an alternate revenue stream coming into your home, one that allows you the freedom to set your own schedule while you earn extra cash. Be aware of the cost of that extra money.