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 –
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.