Direct Selling (DS) is a legitimate business model that everyone from the SAHM (Stay at Home Mom) to a corporate executive can take a part in. According to its governing body, the Directs Sales Association, consultant numbers are at an all time high as people unemployed, searching for non-traditional work-weeks, a challenge or new opportunity for income, or simply a change in pace to everyday life.
After thousands have signed up to be an independent consultant of a particular direct selling company in 2011, the company implemented a hiring freeze to give them some room to handle the extremely heavy load of business. The company hired thousands in people and machines to serve the new and future demands of business, while other companies right outside their doors were letting people go. Despite its freeze and the mass hiring of personnel, consultants grappled with backorders that took as long as two to three months to receive. The blogosphere were plenty-filled with talks about the frustrations as a customer and as a consultant.
Soon after, an interest/wait list was put up for those interested in becoming an independent consultant. It was later reported that the list had grown close to 10,000 or more. Only a month later, consultants were let in waves with an estimated 9,000 new consultant by the end of the waves. Only weeks after the receiving of these new consultants, a message was posted to all new and current consultants stating:
Effective August 1, 2011, Facebook Pages for your independent [withheld] business are prohibited. And if you already have a Page, you must permanently delete it.
It was leaked in April that there was a new Facebook policy coming out and many questioned and speculated what exactly it would be. Now that one is here, far more speculation and questions arose than answers available. Any desire for clarification repeatedly hit brick walls as it is a long holiday weekend and no one is at headquarters, who posted the change only hours before the close of business week. Meanwhile, the boards are reported to be steaming with the topic and about 95% of the consultants upset over the new ruling.
The banning of Facebook Fan pages by Direct Selling companies is not a new thing. Personal experience in direct selling, reading up, and personal reports from other consultants state that they are not allowed by the company to mention their business on Facebook in the form of Fan Pages while Facebook does not allow business promotions on personal Facebook profiles. Just the other day, one said that her relative with a jewelry company is not allowed to have a FB fan page or she risk termination for doing so. I am with a different company also selling jewelry and with my company, FB, as well as blogging, having an external website, and promoting with paid FB ads all linking to my personal company sales page where they can buy from is all fair game . One can even to choose to sell exclusively online and not follow the traditional party-plan model. Each to its own, I suppose.
Why the ban for this company? Again, it could be anything under the sun. It was only a couple of months ago that this same company banned the use and mention of one’s business in the form of a blog or an external website that would be linked to their company’s ordering website. The company stated that the blogging and the external sites were unfair to those who did not know how to blog, and in order to be fair to all, they have a company site for a nominal fee that was fair and consistent to everyone else’s in the company. This time, their reason for not Fan Pages is:
This is a new policy we are putting in place to help us provide a consistent brand experience and manage product demand so we can fully support all our Consultants, future Consultants and customers. Our business is built on parties and we must ensure we have products to support your parties.
Notice the “consistent brand experience and manage product demand.. ensuring we have products to support your parties” in their reasoning? The company alludes that online promotions and sales through FB Pages may cause them to not have enough products to support the parties the business is built on. I suppose that could be true. There are dozens of reports from consultants stating that FB Fan pages is how they make their sales and without it, business would definitely change, stating that the new policy will stifle, hurt, or even kill their business altogether. Many were stay at home mothers who rely on a FB Fan page for sales. A handful have expressed no longer staying in business and at least one person has decided not to sign up as she has had success with her other businesses from the use of a FB Fan Page. She says that the inability to have one is counterproductive to business and will not be partaking in a company that does not allow it. There goes a recruit.
To the company’s defense, there are reports that they are allowing FB Groups to consultants who want to keep in contact with their customers. The only catch is that must be private; in other words, unsearchable to anyone outside of a consultant’s direct contact. Current Facebook Fans can be kept by inviting them to your newly created private group and the original fan page be deleted come August 1. Even then, many questions on what you can and cannot do in these groups are in question by the consultants. “Higher-Ups” have said that they are also not allowed to post the monthly special flyers anywhere online and only available for those at the parties or face to face. One consultant call this whole thing “a joke” and having to invite her customers to a private group only to keep in touch and share specials and promotions in writing is “just ridiculous” and will be a laughable thing to her customers.
Whether one believes or agrees with the company’s reasoning for the banning of Facebook Fan pages, do you think that the banning of a Facebook Fan page for self-promotion is a great business move? Do you think that their reason is legit? Why or why not? How will this affect your business? How will you work from home if this will be or is the case with your company? I would love to hear from you.