What can you say about your company’s products? Not much apparently.

Why network marketers are so restricted

Have you ever seen anything like this online:

  • Lose 12lbs in just 10 days
  • Wrap away your belly fat in 2 weeks
  • Lose those wrinkles and look 10 years younger
  • Save £100’s on your everyday shopping
  • No more migraines
  • Become a millionaire from your phone with just a few hours a week.

Big business blunders

Increasing use of social media for marketing has produced a few real disasters. Last October, Dove posted a social ad on its Facebook page that featured a black woman taking off a shirt similar to her skin tone to reveal that she had turned into a white woman wearing a shirt similar to her skin tone.   Personal care brand Dove said a recent marketing campaign “missed the mark in representing women of colour thoughtfully,” amid criticism that the advertisements were racially insensitive.

Companies like Unilever (who own Dove) have lots of people involved in vetting their ads, but they still got this massively wrong and it got them more negative publicity than money could buy.  And they’re not alone – many other household names have also messed up.  So companies have to be really careful about the message they put out.

But network marketing companies have to be even more careful. Why?

Well, they have thousands of independent business owners/consultants/distributors and many of these use a whole range of social media platforms to promote their products and business opportunity.

We are self-employed, but the company we work with is responsible for the message.  It has to protect itself and the livelihoods of these thousands of people by making sure that posts, tweets, videos etc don’t break any local laws or regulations or offend anyone.

Most reputable companies have dedicated compliance teams creating guidelines, policies and training to deal with this issue.

Some non-compliant claims

And here are a few claims which are either illegal, contravene advertising standards or are just plain unacceptable (in the UK at least, other countries have their own regulations):

  • medical claims, not only the direct or downright outrageous – ‘cures cancer’ for instance (yes, I’ve seen that!), but any suggestion that a product can help directly with any particular condition such as asthma or arthritis.  This applies even when we have benefited directly ourselves.  Business owners can’t even place ads or posts mentioning a product and a medical condition.  All we can say is that xxxx promotes or supports a healthy immune system/skin/joints.  Not very inspiring, is it?
  • weight loss – another area where we have to be really careful. No suggestions of weight loss figures and timescales.  It’s all about the energy, fitness, healthier lifestyle, relationship with food etc.  Better, more sensible, but maybe not so exciting or motivating?
  • earnings – there can be no suggestion that high earnings are easy or can be achieved quickly.  And any figures quoted must be verifiable. This is fine, as most reputable companies are keen to stress the work involved in building a business and winning incentives.  No cheap ‘get rich quick’ promotions.

So how do we promote the benefits of what we offer?  How can we put across the life-changing potential of our business:

  • customers can be great ambassadors, posting their testimonials (on their own page)
  • lifestyle posts are great, family fun, free time, hobbies, new team members, congratulations for achievements, a bit of subtle product placement, company news, celebrity stories etc
  • use company produced professional material showing the benefits of the business and products for everyone.

The restrictions may be a good thing

They encourage a more creative approach, suggesting the benefits rather than the ‘buy this and look 10 years younger’ or ‘join my team’ posts which are cheesy and may be a bit of a turn-off.

It’s all about telling powerful stories and, as we all know, ‘facts tell, stories sell’ so let’s be storytellers!