IBOAI launches Social Media Guide for Amway Business Owners

I just came across this great new Social Media Resource Center on the IBOAI website, with tips on the do’s and dont’s of using social media to promote an Amway business. The guide gives some great summaries of different social media services, their rules and guidelines, and general netiquette on using them.

Where I found the guide falls down is in addressing older forms of internet communication such as blogs and forums and the continued failure to address the fact that the Internet is not a broadcast medium, as I pointed out last year. Amway seems to consider an IBO’s internet presence as a form of “non-local” advertising, when in fact something like a blog is as “local” as you can get – it’s only available to people who have actively decided to go to the location of your site. Something like google display ads are not “local” – you’re broadcasting them over a variety of websites over which you have no control, and neither does the recipient. Sending a spam email to masses of people you don’t know – that too is broadcasting. A blog post, a tweet, a facebook page – they’re local, narrowcast messages sent only to people who actively want to receive them – people who have made personal contact. Amway’s view seems to be that personal contact can only be made in one direction: IBO to prospect. Why? If this was a consistent rule, then if someone “in the real world” learned I was an IBO, and contacted me for some reason (saw an ad, read an old internet article, heard from a friend, whatever) – it would be wrong of me to respond to them. That’s ridiculous isn’t it?

I believe Amway’s guidelines are primarily designed to keep the opportunity a relatively level, affordable playing field for all. If google ads were allowed for example, someone with access to larger financial resources could easily corner the ads market, directing traffic to their Amway retail websites. That’s unfair. Having a blog about your business, even to actively promote it, is open to everyone at low or no cost. Friend and fellow IBO Bridgett once said something to me that I think should be a mantra for Amway and all Amway business owners – don’t be weird.

In the 21st century, not being able to have a blog or website actively talking about your business is just plain weird.

The Social Media guidelines unfortunately have further violations of the don’t be weird rule. On a page called The Rules of Conduct Applied to Social Media the guide explains a few things that are violations of the Amway Rules of Conduct. For example –

  • no posting any pictures of Amway products
  • no posting any Amway logos

From the perspective of a prospect investigating the products or business this is weird – particularly given non-IBO bloggers and journalists are free to do this, indeed are encouraged to do so!  Some more –

  • no showing of the plan without physical presence
  • no sponsoring without physical presence
  • Yup, all those LOAs offering the ability to show the plan over the internet (a perfectly sensible thing to do!) are violating the rules. That’s weird. It’s clear Amway’s rules still need some work and in particular some proper definitions. In some sections they clearly imply that the entire internet is considered a broadcast medium technology, in other places such a definition would be inherently contradictory – it would for example ban me using email or my VOIP telephone to call a friend and invite them to a business meeting! Talk about weird. One gets the impression that a few too many lawyers have been involved in the rule-marking process.

    When rules are unclear or contradictory, it invites people to break them. Once one is broken, it’s easier to break others – something nobody should want. The new Social Media guidelines are a good step in the right direction, but the underlying problem of Amway’s outdated rules still need to be addressed. What’s most disappointing about it is that North America is probably the most advanced Amway affiliate in this area.

    It’s nearly 2010, Amway. The Internet isn’t new anymore. There’s smply no excuses for there not to be clear, modern, consistent guidelines. Amway – don’t be weird.

    23 thoughts on “IBOAI launches Social Media Guide for Amway Business Owners”

    1. Yes this is a people business and we want people who we care about first and foremost don’t we? I know the net can be great for building relationships and all but to many abuse it and spam everything and forget it’s suppose to be about people, a business with a heart.

    2. He harassed me to death until I just said to h*** with it. I’m debating as to what to do with it. I sure wonder what it’s like to be king of the universe. I also wonder what it’s like to have absolutely nothing to do but pick on everybody while living in his mother’s basement. Amway didn’t ask me to take down the blog, just one of the posts, which I did, but that wasn’t good enough for you-know-who. If you want to discuss it further, you can contact me privately. Thanks for asking.

    3. Jeffrey,

      What happened to your blog? Did Amway Global ask you to take it down, or did you feel it just wasn’t productive for you? Bridgett has a blog with a link to her shopping site, and that seems okay. I realize that Tex got weary of chasing after kingpins, and is now sniffing out anyone advertising their businesses on-line, and reporting them to Amway. (I know he doesn’t really care what the little IBO is doing–it’s a way to attach a tool scam alert to as many e-mails as possible.) This might be a good time for us all to get clear on what is and isn’t allowed. Probably it’s a good idea to simply run a copy by Amway before submitting any classified ads and such. I’d be amazed if you couldn’t advertise this way; there’s probably just certain protocol to follow.

    4. Thanks for pointed that out, IBOFightBack. Scott probably isn’t the only one who has those concerns. My LOA has given us instructions on contacting people through Facebook and Myspace. I should check it out myself–I’m pretty sure that http://www.xsgear.com (which you should access through Amway Global partner stores if you’re going to purchase any tools, to get PV/BV) has tips for taking advantage of social networking tools on the web.

    5. Hello,
      I have considered becoming an IBO but I am very concerned about this. I am a twenty something who lives and breathes the internet. That is why I thought this would be such a great opportunity. I thought I could recruit people via the internet and really get my business going. Amway says that I can’t do that and that I have to meet them in person. Well that is going to limit my opportunities since I live in a small town far from a major Metro area. If I have to drive 100 miles to meet with someone…..well that doesn’t sound very efficient. Especially if I could recruit online in the comfort of my own apartment. In my case I could potentially reach tens of thousands of customers utilizing social media i.e YouTube, Facebook, etc….Why doesn’t Amway want me to do that??

      1. Hi Scott,
        As I note in my post, the rules as they stand are actually contradictory. The “in person” part is I suspect merely a hangover from pre-internet days. I think you’re just fine to meet and chat and sponsor people online. Now you’re not allowed to spam, which is fair enough – if you can do it, so can everyone else and you’d quickly be outspent and out of business! Same with advertising on youtube and such. The reality is those types of things aren’t efficient anyway – they don’t work, or if they do only for a limited time and limited people. What does work online is the same stuff that works offline – meet people, be a community member, build relationships, if you see a need – offer a solution. I’ve met many people online that I’ve later sponsored into my business. It’s about community, not spamming! 🙂

    6. Jeffrey, these sites, like the one I included with my name, have to be pass-code protected, according to Amway Global’s rules. In other words, someone has to be invited into the site. Once there, depending on what pass-code is given, a visitor sees all the prospecting information, follow-through material, meeting info, and team news. I probably shouldn’t bother giving the site address in an environment like this, because I’m not inviting anyone here to take a look at our opportunity.

      MichMan, you’re right. My point (which is off-topic on this thread, I admit) is that some people have made too big of an issue about feeling misled by Amway distributors. I agree with you that this doesn’t justify misleading anyone. We should always be honest and straightforward.

    7. aj said: “…if a prospect felt mislead, what’s the worst that can happen? They wasted a couple hours going to a meeting. Or if they signed up, they can call Amway and get a refund.”

      ********************

      The worst thing that can happen is that the person tells others he was tricked into an Amway meeting. “Watch out for Joe. He won’t tell you upfront, but he’s going to try and suck you into Amway.”

      He could also post his comments on the internet. If you Google ‘Amway trick’ or ‘Amway tricked’ and you will see lots of people posting stories on how they were misled into seeing the plan.

      It used to be that one dissatisfied person would tell ten. Today with the internet, each dissatisfied person can tell hundred or even thousands. Why does Amway need that kind of publicity?

      Hopefully the honest and straightforward approach will be the standard one in the future.

    8. Nice looking site, aj. I hope it gets good results for you. However, I still have a hang-up about the Partner Stores and brand-names being promoted over the core line merchandise as those stores and items account for a very small percentage of our business. I know it is a hook to get people interested, but personally, I just don’t feel comfortable with it. Now, I would like to invite the bashers (and the curious) to take the Real (and Fair) Challenge at http://www.extremelybize.blogspot.com.

    9. As I pointed out on AmwayTalk recently, when I quoted from the “Contacting Cue Cards”, The Yager Group does not teach hiding the Amway name. I recall regretfully that certain leaders once did, a few years ago. I think they had good intentions. We want people to see the full picture. There are an awful lot of brands and companies tied in to Amway. We’ve been using products like the XS energy drink as contacting tools for years now. XS doesn’t provide a complete picture either. At least products are more tangible than the name “Amway”. I never got the feeling that they wanted us to hide the Amway (or Quixtar) name because it had a bad reputation. It had more to do with the IBOs being the guide as the prospect did his due diligence. I agree that the tactic can be tricky, and it’s best to answer questions truthfully and succinctly. On the bright side, if a prospect felt mislead, what’s the worst that can happen? They wasted a couple hours going to a meeting. Or if they signed up, they can call Amway and get a refund. Unfortunately I know that there are other opportunities out there that cost thousands of dollars and lock you into a contract you cannot get out of. Amway Global has an A+ rating on the Better Business Bureau web site, and three measly complaints. The people out there complaining about Amway don’t know what a real scam looks like.

    10. Good luck Jeffrey. Some LOAs teach that you have to hide the name Amway because the name has a bad reputation.

      IMO one of the biggest reasons for Amway’s bad reputation IS the “curiosity approach” and the people who teach it.

      Hopefully in the near future, people like you will be in the majority, especially with the new emphasis on products, and all the money they spent to bring back the Amway name.

    11. That’s the nice thing about building a retail business…people know right up front who the company is. I know I am in the minority about this one, too, but I don’t go to show the plan to someone unless they know it is Amway. That’s probably why I don’t show too many plans. I also do something that most people would find unusual: after I ask them some questions, like how much money they would like to make, how soon, what is their time commitment, and see how many names they can write down in 5 minutes, then I show about 5 or 6 quick product demos and let them drink a can of XS while I’m showing the plan. I used to hide the company name and my stomach would get tied up in knots because I felt like I was being deceptive. Now I don’t feel that way because everything is out in the open. I no longer have to deal with the, “ewww, if I had known this was Amway…” while I’m sitting at their kitchen table.

    12. rocket,
      The Corp does a lot of things behind the scenes that none of us know about, and that’s how it should be. I believe they try to be respectful of people, even though those people are breaking the rules. Their goal is to correct the issue, and still maintain the relationship.

      It’s only when it’s very clear that offenders are not interested fixing a problem and maintaining the relationship that drastic (and very public) action occurs, as what happened in August 2007.

      I believe this follows the wishes of Rich and Jay–knowing that people are important. That you attempt to maintain relationships and be respectful, rather than shame people, and kick them out when they don’t behave the way you want them to.

      Is it easy? No. Do things happen as quickly and as efficiently as I’d like? No. But in looking at the big picture, and looking long term, IMO, it’s a much better option than “cleaning house.”

    13. Even though the rules are there, people are still breaking them.

      People minimize and even hide the Amway name to this day.

      It’s unfortunate, and I have the sneaking suspicion that if there were clear consequences for rules violations, you would see less of them.

      Does anyone else find it strange that Amway has immense power with how you run your business, but seems powerless to stop the abuses?

      Ever heard of strategic incompetence?

      1. Rocket,
        (1) there are clear consequences when Amway hear’s about rules violations. Amway contacts people all the time about breaking rules on the internet.
        (2) you seem to think “clear consequences” means YOU hear about it. Amway has clear guidelines about how things proceed when people break the rules, and a lot of that includes confidentiality. As you well know from Deb’s reports on Qblog, the IBOAI has been involved in dealing with many, many issues around rule breakers.
        (3) on what basis do you believe a company involving millions of independent reps could possibly monitor and prevent every rule breaker? It’s impossible.

        The simply fact is YOU don’t know what actions Amway takes. You have no idea. To make statements implying knowing otherwise is simply dishonest. Given your past history on this forum and elsewhere, one might even consider it strategic dishonesty. As you know, your posts are already automatically put in the spam bin due to your past trolling. This post certainly leaned in that category as well, as we’ve addressed your uncredible claim to knowledge of Amway’s internal processes before.

    14. Did you download the Overview first? Save it on to your Desktop, and then from there, open it. If you have Powerpoint or Powerpoint Viewer, you should be able to view it.

    15. I get the e-mails and I’ve been attending the webinars. For soem reason, I cannot get the Web 2.0 Overview to work. I’ve got a custom-built tower with a dual-core processor, high speed internet, and Windows Vista. Guess I’ll have to get my 7-year-old grandson to show me how to get it to work.

    16. Amway Global isn’t blogging much, however they aren’t silent either.
      They’ve got multiple facebook pages, Twitter accounts, and a YouTube channel.

      Last month (October 7th) they did an hour-long live webinar for ALL IBOs.

      They are constantly communicating by email for those who sign up for updates. At least once a week (Fridays) plus additional timely information.

      To sign up, it’s on the AG/Q website under Manage My Business>Manage Personal Information>Subscriptions and Email

      The Achieve, with additional flyers, comes out quarterly.

      And the webinar AJ is referring to is probably the same 28-slide PowerPoint presentation available to all IBOs. It’s located on the AG/Q website under Manage My Business>Future Success.

      The file is called “Web 2.0 Overview.” It shows images of the new personal websites and points out the many features of them.

      That section “Future Success” is always being updated with new info/files.

    17. Jeffrey,
      We just had a Yager Group webinar on the new Amway Global 2.0 web-site and the new personalized web-sites. Some Amway employees walked us through the details, and I think it’s going to be awesome. It’s going to get us up-to-date with all the e-commerce “best practice” stuff, like consumer reviews, for example. I’m especially excited about the personalized web-sites. Maybe hold off on getting new business cards until January or February, when we’ll know what our new personalized web addresses will be. Don’t wait until then to grow your business. 🙂

    18. I find that Amway’s management is wildly out-of-touch with what’s going on in the real world and in our business. The personal retail websites are hopelessly out-of-date and pretty much useless. We have been promised a couple of start dates on the new, personalized ones, like the beginning of this month, but it came and went without so much as a word from the company. I still can’t believe the quote from Steve Lieberman awhile back: “There’s been enough change for awhile.” Whatever.

      About the only one that blogs regularly anymore on the Opportunity Zone is Beth Dornan. There are other, newer bloggers that are pretty regular, but it’s mostly about nutrition and other products. The Opportunity Zone has been watered down so much with product talk, it isn’t much fun to go there anymore. They just don’t want to deal with the “hot” topic(s) anymore.

      No matter what people think of General Motors or their management, President & CEO Fritz Henderson and Vice Chairman Robert Lutz blog on GM’s blogs on a regular basis. I like it that they think enough of their customers and dealers to keep them up-to-date with what is going on. Doug and Steve have never, ever blogged on the Opportunity Zone even once. That looks extremely arrogant and out-of-touch to me. Steve Lieberman has blogged only a couple of times very early on, and I think Sandy Spielmaker has blogged only once if I can remember. I find that very disappointing and disheartening. It sure doesn’t look like they care very much. They need to be blogging on a regular basis to let everybody know exactly what is going on and why. The only thing worse than being treated badly is being ignored. This is one of the reasons for the proliferation of the systems–to provide leadership and direction because the company has been unwilling to do so.

    19. I just looked over the Rules of Conduct and…well, I don’t think the interpretation of all of them (on the IBOAI website) is accurate.

      This is not the information I have received, directly from Amway’s Rule Department. So, ibofightback, you are right–

      “When rules are unclear or contradictory, it invites people to break them.”

      I guess they want to error on the side of caution? And for those with some tenacity will dig a little deeper and get clarity on certain points?

      On one hand, I appreciate the intense rules because it keeps IBOs from being dorky and from embarrassing all IBOs to the gazillionth degree because of the far-reaching power of the Internet.

      But on the other hand, I can see how it could frustrate and inhibit those IBOs with good people skills (and common sense), from having a voice on the Internet, and thus drowning out all the goofy ones.

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