Remember, just a few years ago, when we were all friends, and I didn't sell you stuff, and you didn't sell me stuff?
Those were the days. Those were the DAAAYYYYS.
I've been lamenting with friends (non-selling friends) about this a lot lately. We all have friends who, in one form or another, have gotten involved with a...(I hesitate to call them "businesses" because generally, it's just some girl in her living room, but don't know quite enough to call them "pyramid schemes"...I'll say "organization"--yes)...they've gotten involved with an organization that, in order to be successful, requires you to sell stuff to your friends--OR--better yet--get your friends to sell stuff to their friends for you.
I wish there was a way on social media to hide these posts altogether, but alas, these organizations are tricky, and educate their sales people in ways to show up in your newsfeeds in increasingly conspicuous ways.
Here's how they've been going in my world.
They all have some things in common--most specifically, being vague for a LONG time, and CAPS.
POST 1: The vague post about dissatisfaction
This mysterious first post piques your interest (or makes you instantly angry--one or the other), and requires no interaction to be effective. They just want you to know--"watch me, because soon, I'll be doing something. Will you care? You should...you should...because why else would I be telling you about it?"
#itstime #ineedachange #hadenough
POST 2: The revelation of unknown expertise.
Did you know that MANY of your selling friends--unbeknownst to you--are dieticians, trainers, designers, artists, and more? I know--it was surprising to me too, because I thought they were teachers, worked at a pizza place, or stayed at home. But selling-friends, at this point in the game, will start sharing a lot of very specific knowledge with the social media world about "things you're doing wrong" and "science that tells you what you should fix." Generally, they come in the form of charts or infographics like this:
Also, they can come in the form of more vague updates about dissatisfaction, like
*a special side note here--it's often really fun to take the four seconds required to Google the ingredients of the shakes and bars that most of the dietary plans require you to purchase. Spoiler alert--they're REALLY REALLY REALLY processed. I'm one selling-friend away from copy/pasting the ingredients list all over their page.
#cleanliving #themoreyouknow #educateyourself #whole30
POST 3: The photographic evidence*.
They've been "doing" the "work" you keep hearing about, and they've been "learning" about "science," and LOOK WHAT IT'S DONE FOR THEM.
*this is especially effective when it comes with a humblebrag disclaimer, like "I took these photos privately, and never planned show them to ANYONE, but when a friend saw how amazing I've been looking, she said I owed it to you to post!"
#beforeandafter #neverfeltthisgreat #justthebeginning
POST 4: The call to action...kind of.
This is the most annoying part to me (yep, even more annoying that the before and after photos). JUST SAY IT. Just say it. I'm not going to effing message you about anything, ever.
I get it--at this point, we're still trying to keep the mystery alive. I mean, with those before and after pics, SOMETHING IS WORKING!! Want to know what? Not yet...not quite yet. Because if you just post what it is, people may Google it, and order it from someone else!! OR--worse--people may Google it, and be dissuaded by the number of times "pyramid scheme" appears in their results.
Also, you know who says "DM" or "private message"? People who are copy/pasting from marketing guides. How often have you said that in your everyday conversations with friends? Let me answer for myself: zero times.
POST 5: The "this is working for other people too!"
We all know what you're doing here. Why haven't you ever chosen to post photos of your friends accomplishments until now? Oh, because you showing off your friend's pic of her new office, or your his new baby doesn't get more people to buy stuff from you? Got it.
#soproud #shestuckwithit #shelookssick #thebadkind
POST 6: The "I'm not trying to be insulting, but here's a personal message about why you need me."
Let me go ahead and getcha the template:
Dear (first name),
Hope you've been great! (something relevant about his/her life). (something about how you can identify). (a bunch of bs about what you're selling). It really changed my life, and I know it will change yours too! Let me know if you're interested in more info!
POST 7: The big reveal--what the hell are you selling?
This is a tough step for a lot of selling friends to take, because from here on out, they lose the mystery. No longer can they depend on people popping over to their page to try and guess--"did she go vegan?" "Did she get her own manicure license?" "Did she develop an actual eating disorder, or is this just a regular unhealthy obsession with food?"
But--good news--more often that not, sharing which organization you've been pimping does nothing to clear the mystery up! Nine times out of 10, these organizations have names that mean nothing (often made up words, a combination of two words, empty sayings--lots of BodiGenics, FitCentral or Jim's New Way of Life Forever), and unbelievably vague information available online.
I get it--the organizations basically FORCE you to go talk to someone about WTF it is, and because you have to talk to an old friend, odds are better than you'll buy it.
#itsjimsforever #showmethewayjim #newlifetoday
POST 8: The "I've tapped my friend base and am no longer making any money, so please help by tapping your own friend base."
Just kidding--I hate each and every step of this process!
But this is when you know your selling friend is too far gone--they're trying to recruit others to make them money. Here's what these posts NEVER say:
#ineedyoutoneedme #yourinitialinvestmentwasntenough #bodigenics
POST 9: The conference check-in.
At this point, your selling friend has paid money to attend a conference for an organization who they already pay each month for some product, but for no other real service at all, and where MORE THAN 90% OF THE PEOPLE INVOLVED MAKE NO MONEY. This is not a made up statistic, but I am choosing not to cite it, because I don't really care that much. And they're paying to sit in sessions that are, very literally, called things like "How to never take no for an answer."
Anyway, at the point people are A--paying MORE money to a company they already pay money to be a part of, just to hang out, and B--are telling their entire social media network about it, it's pretty clear that all of the tried-and-true ways to get people into their tricky webs of selling for them have stopped working. "You DEFINITELY want to be a part of this cool group, right? We are so fun!!!! We don't have fun in other ways, for free, ever! So DM me today to start giving me money!"
From here, it's a mix of all nine posts, back and forth, over and over, until the inevitable unfriending.
So what can we do??
Nothing. You know we can't really do anything. No one wants to be that girl who bitches out, in public, someone who legitimately was a friend once, for littering their newsfeeds with sales pitches. I mean, we may not be FRIENDS friends anymore, but we don't hate these people.
I do, however, feel 100% justified in:
- Never, ever responding to any messages directed to me personally. Like, I'll look at it, and I know they see the "seen by Shannon on Tuesday" notification, but I'm not going to reply.
- Completely shutting down any chance for them to pitch me in person. Most recently, I was sent a "Hey, what are you up to this Monday?" message from someone who has a--literally never invited me to do anything, ever, because we're only barely-coworkers and b--sells-to-friends a product that I do not like or care about at all. I said "Oh man, I'm busy, bummer, bye."
Save yourselves, people. Save yourselves.