When Does Brand Advocacy Go Too Far?

Multi-Level Marketing

By Rachel Hadley

Like most people, I rely on others to endorse a product or service before I’m willing to invest in it. After I have an amazing experience, I’ll tell people about it. If I feel really strongly about something, I post it on my Facebook page. Sometimes I even*gasp*throw privacy out the window and post it publicly so the whole world can see it!

In addition to utilizing avenues like social media or content marketing, many consumer brands will do whatever it takes to get word-of-mouth marketing for their products. “Refer a friend and you both get $10 off your next purchase!” I fully support this model. It works, is mutually beneficial, and does not alienate people.

I’ve recently realized I have negative feelings toward brands that dominate my Facebook News Feed. So here’s my latest headache: Rodan + Fields. The company operates much like Mary Kay did back in the early 1980’s, growing a base of consultants that directly sell to their own networks.

Social media has provided an outlet to take this multi-level marketing commerce platform to the next level. E-mail wasn’t even mainstream in the 1980’s. Creating a Mary Kay business took years! Remember Tupperware parties? Now, with one Facebook post, a new consultant can launch a career.

Rodan + Fields is taking social commerce by storm but is possibly alienating potential customers in the process. Please don’t get me wrong: I have many friends who have successfully transitioned into Rodan + Fields consultants, and I’m very happy for them and their successes. Nonetheless, the frequency with which I see these posts feels like I’m being spammed by the people I love the most. (Side note: Facebook has rules in place that provide strict advertising guidelines, one in particular which I can’t help but notice is the majority of the posts I see about Rodan + Fields … before & after pictures.)

The Pampered Chef is an example of a brand with a similar business model that gets it right. Marketers can learn a lot from this brand because posts provide value to the readers. If Rodan + Fields consultants posted skincare tips, for example, I would subconsciously start to think of them as skincare experts who provide value rather than clog my feed with invitations to buy products.

Which brings me to my next point that we, as marketers, need to remember: I understand why social platforms have algorithms to prevent people from seeing too much of what they don’t care to see. As a marketer of brands, I don’t want our fans and followers to have any negative associations with our content. We shouldn’t be worried that they don’t see every single post. Instead, we should make sure we are connecting with the right people, at the right time and with the right message.

When was the last time you felt alienated by a brand? Tell the Likeable Media team about it in the comments below!