Long post incoming. First ever one on here, so bear with me on this
For the past 2 1/2 years, I found myself watching anti-MLM content. Mind you, it’s a huge rollercoaster of emotions and gathering information on some themes I have noticed ever since I started watching in April 2020, but all-in-all, it has been eye-opening. As someone who is on a spectrum and cannot do a regular 9-5 for the life of me, seeing the movement has opened my eyes to the shady practices these companies made. Now, I don’t want to say I consumed all anti-MLM content. I also watched pro-MLM content to get a sense of what they’re doing and how they’re employing the tactics. I quickly found out that I cannot do these things without switching my personality up 180, so we’ll leave it at that.
Thanks to Steven Hassan, BuzzFeed, and Owner’s Magazine, as well as a few videos from YouTube that I will link at the bottom of the post, I have compiled a list of 30 things about MLM huns that I learned about over the course of this pandemic
Switching industry names
It’s still Multi-Level Marketing, but they will also use “social selling”, “social retail”, “direct marketing”, “direct sales”, “network sales”, or more recently… “participation selling”. Yes, Beachbody’s CEO said this. As someone who don’t really pick up similarities right away, watching anti-MLM content has simplified that for me so that when they do take on new names for their industry, I will be able to pick up on it quickly like anyone else.
Failing to actually check profiles
“Hey, hun, I check your profile and I think you would be great fit for what I do” or “Hey, girl, I checked your profile and I see you have an amazing life. You would be killing it in network marketing” are some of the messages I have seen hunbots send to people that were shared publicly. I will admit, some of it was humorous.
Pain point research
If they do actually check profiles, they will find a pain point. A “pain point” is a specific problem faced by a current or prospective customer in the marketplace. It could be used as part of a selling point by the seller to sell a product that can help that situation. An example could be someone who had problems with their pregnancy or someone trying to lose weight or it could even be a new mother on maternity leave or even if someone is going through a health crisis. For huns, though, they use these pain points to offer solutions, even where there is none. Some will use these pain points as part of brainwashing and blackmailing, which I will get to in a bit. Using pain points in sales isn’t a bad thing, but the way I have seen hunbots use them made me cringe a bit because all it does is prey on people’s desperation.
Recruitment on Social Media
This is usually done within the first few messages. Once they ‘get’ to know you, they will start their recruitment pitch. Some of the pitches they use are about having this “unbelievable opportunity” to have uncapped income (aka income potential), or the biggest line they love to use… location/financial/time freedom. They will also send you a link to buy a starter kit FROM THEM (or else they wouldn’t make money). Some will also send you a link to a Zoom call to give information that they should have given you in those first few text messages.
Not all MLM recruitments take place online, and some of them will start out/end online, but then if you ever get invited to a coffee chat at Starbucks, or if you ever been to Sam’s Club or Target, you might risk getting recruited. The Amway posts on r/antimlm are great examples of in-person recruitment. The common themes among Amway recruiting are someone and/or their spouse retired in their 20’s and 30’s to start a business and them handing you a book to read so it can be discussed on Zoom. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki is a popular book mentors hand out to their recruits.
The “Anyone can do it” vibe
In general, I hated this saying. It tells me that the person who uses it is privileged and doesn’t know the extra steps others use to get to that level. Huns will say this all the time when they’re on Zoom calls with their teams. “If I can do it, anyone can”. Actually, they cannot or else it would be saturated. Another thing they do is that they will recruit everyone and claim that the market is not saturated. If you recruit 5 people and they recruit 5 people each, and those 25 get 5 people each, you will get to 13 levels before you’re out of people in the world. This is called exponential growth.
This is a big thing I learned from watching and reading anti-MLM content. Let’s say the person getting recruited is worried about what their family and friends will say if they tell them about the opportunity. The hunbots will tell them to cut out ‘negativity’. That could be cutting out friends and family who saw the red flags, or blocking strangers on social media who call them a scam or a pyramid scheme. They would even go as far as to attack the anti-MLM community for spreading hate and propaganda, when really the community is raising awareness about the business model. This was a great learning lesson as someone who can easily fall for people because of their friendly tones (and they will get you with that). In the MLM world, critical thinking goes out the window.
If you do sign up for the opportunity, they will shower you with lots of love. By that, I mean, they will add you to all the groups, all the chats, etc. I find this toxic because while they love you at first, they will either outright ignore you or give you the runaround if you need help. So much for friendships, right? LEAVE. CLIQUES. IN. HIGH. SCHOOL.
Double Speak (aka goalpost moving)
One of the things I hate the most, MLM or not, is the double speak. The hypocrisy is uncanny with these huns. They will tell you when recruiting about working in “pockets of time” but when you actually join, all bets are off. They expect you to work 24/7 and to attend all Zoom meetings and join accountability groups. In general, whatever they say, they will quickly jump in the opposite direction.
Treating Valid Reasons as Excuses
“I don’t have time”, “I don’t have the money”, “I’m not good at sales”, those are valid arguments. Some people don’t have the last $99 on hand to join these companies. Some have a lot on their plate and cannot make time to work the business. Some, like me, aren’t good at sales. But for these huns… they have an answer to everything. No time? Work the business while watching Netflix. No money? Put it on a credit card or skip an important bill (that makes my blood boil). Not good at sales? They will train you how to be “coachable”.
“Pyramid Schemes are Illegal”
Their go-to argument when you assert your anti-MLM position. This will also be said in their social media posts thinking they did something. There’s one problem with that statement… their products serve as loopholes. If not for fizz sticks, shampoo, and various essential oils, they would be straight-out pyramid schemes. I have also seen them perform whataboutism with reputable companies, accusing a) those companies of being pyramid schemes and b) CEOs of said companies making money off the rich.
National Vice President? Managing Market Builder? Five-Star Diamond? Presenter? Artist? Those are all real titles given to huns at various MLM companies. These titles mean nothing in the real world, and I always get a laugh everytime a hun presents herself as a Double Star Vice President among others who are also Diamond Star Vice President. Also, the pay isn’t great, I’ll get to that later
Yes, there’s a reason why you don’t share secrets with anyone. Huns will goad you into sharing your most intimate moments just to make a buck in sales. If you try to leave your MLM or complain that you’re not doing well in the business, they will threathen to blackmail you. This is a horrible tactic to use in general because of the tactics they use to get you to share your deepest secrets to them.
You’re making money. I’m making money. We spend the money on bills and things we actually like. You love Starbucks coffee? Go for it. You’re in a middle of binge-watching a show on Netflix? Have fun. You saved up enough money to buy make-up at Sephora? Girl, you deserve it. The huns think they are not only entitled to other people’s money, but they have the gall to tell people how they spend their money, like we’re not worthy enough of a paycheck. I mean, it’s my money. I spend it whatever I want (after paying bills, of course)
Whether during recruitment or posting publicly on social media, one constant I see among hunbots is that they don’t reveal the company name outright. They request that you DM them to find out who they work for and what they do. There’s a few reasons why they do that. They don’t want people to search on Google. They want to build curiosity. Honestly, I think they’re doing this on purpose because they want people to jump on it real quick and not do any research beforehand, which leads to…
FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)
They’re always looking for 3 more people, but those “3 more people” can turn into 18 in a snap. Gee, I wonder why. But really, they do this because they have to replace the people that left their teams. Another way they do this is to post media about conventions, retreats, and flaunting “free stuff” in such a way that people would see it and go “oh, I wish I could be like them”. Thankfully, they don’t generate more than a few leads at a time, so make what you will.
No Means Not Right Now
No is a complete sentence. Always remember that. In the MLM world, ‘no’ is only valid for a moment. They take that no and will keep messaging their potential recruits as often as they can without breaking TOS. This is done as “checking up on their potential customers”. To me, that’s spam. This is the quickest way of getting blocked, reported, and even getting banned on social media.
Making Claims about Income
“I make 6 figures from my side hustle” isn’t the flex it usually is. Even so, they don’t really seem to back it up with hard proof. Instead, they’ll brag about having 2 houses or have a nice car. Making income claims are against the rules, but it seems to be the least enforced and making many revisions haven’t really helped
Making Claims about Health
This is especially true for wellness MLM companies. Product A would help with asthma, Product B would fix autism, Product C cures cancer, and so on. Most MLM huns don’t have the right credentials to back up what they say, and for those that do (because they do have nurses, dietiticians, and scientists among the ranks), they misuse their credentials to make false claims about the products.
Have you heard these two stats: “99.x% of reps lose money in an MLM” and “Of those who make $100k a year in an MLM, 82% are women”. These are the real stats, but MLM huns have warped the latter one so much, so they be saying something like “82% of women who make $100k a year are in network marketing” I had to look it up multiple times to make sure it’s the right one because they misuse it so much
If there’s a constant element in MLMs, it’s religion. Just like in politics, MLMs misuse religion for their own gains. I have seen bible quotes misused over and over again like a game of telephone. Most claim to be Christian, but in name only. If you have heard the story about how Jesus flipped the table on greedy merchants, than you already know what this is. “God put me here, God put me there, God sent me this, God sent me that” — Now I’m Catholic, not a practicing one (I grew up with it), but I’m pretty sure that God doesn’t want us to scam people or to be greedy.
AKA “If you’re not successful, it’s your fault”. The business model gets absolved of all blame and it transfers it to the individual. It’s demoralizing because it’s a brainwashing tactic that will keep you in the business far longer than you need to be and also because then they make you think that you have to work harder to at least get your upline’s attention.
They love saying that. Do it uncomfortable, do it scared — basically, go all in without a backup plan. That’s all I got from this, and I will say, I agree with this… but please, have a backup plan
Recently, a Phoenix-based lifestyle anchor I was following posted a flash sale from Monat — $66 for 3 products, which also includes a free product if you spend $100 or more. Two things came to mind… first of all, how dare she. Her hair looked amazing before she started using the product. Two, it’s pretty obvious that this isn’t the first flash sale Monat posted this year. In fact, they do it often. This is just one example of MLM companies overpricing their products so that the uplines get a cut from their downlines depending on how far down it’s allowed. Now, back to the TV host. She might not be selling for Monat, but it’s still disappointing to see her shill for it every week.
Have you ever heard any stories about former MLM huns telling their stories about how they had to buy products monthly to stay active? Have you ever been in an MLM where they tell you that you have to put the orders on autoship to meet your quotas? Yeah, that’s pretty much what this is. LulaRoe, Paparazzi, Young Living, Monat, Arbonne, and Herbalife are some of the MLM companies that will make you buy products in order to sell them, and often times… they can’t sell them fast enough, so they keep buying and buying products until they run out of room. I have seen photos of LulaRoe consultants donate leggings to Goodwill (a common theme on r/antimlm). I have seen pictures of Young Living and Paparazzi reps sell their products in bulk on Facebook Marketplace after they quit their businesses. It’s stupid, but also sad to see this practice happening.
In a word, bleak. Some MLM companies post their annual income disclosure statements annually to give us a picture of how their reps are doing and also as a road map for potential recruits so that they can get a sense of how much they can make in each rank. But that’s not the only thing about income disclosure statements. Most of them don’t post them, and for those that do, it’s a huge yikes. Going by the figures, you would realize that it’s just not worth it
The CEO tagline
Being in an MLM means that you get to be your own boss, your own CEO per se, and the hunbots run with it. Most MLM CEOs are men, while the majority of their workforce are women. The truth is, they actually don’t know what it takes to be a business owner. Hell, I don’t know much about running a business either, but I’m pretty sure you have to do your own pricing, inventory, shipping, website building, etc. The lack of actual business sense rings true when they have to file their taxes… as 1099 contractors. Which leads us to…
They’re bad at taxes, mostly (but really bad)
When they file taxes, as independent contractors (and some think that a 1099 and a business owner is the same thing), they get a 1099 tax form the following January if they make $600 or more in the previous calendar year. Most will not make that much, let alone for years, but that’s not the only thing I saw with this. They also love to write off everything, and I mean everything. We’re talking travel expenses, meal expenses, gifts they have received. Yeah, it’s bad, but wait until they get a huge bill and it’s game over
Devotion to CEO and other major players
If you’re thinking of joining an MLM, get ready to fangirl the CEOs, the top leaders, and your uplines. This is part of Steven Hassan’s BITE model, and eating up the words from the major players is part of the Information portion of the model. I’ll do a blog post on that in the future, but I can tell you this… devotion is a one-way street (two-way if the downlines make them money). TL;DR, they are commercial cults.
Other MLM Competition
Finally, the last thing I learned about watching the content is that some MLM huns seem to think that other MLMs are scams. They will badmouth them and accusing them of doing the same things they’re doing (aka projection). They will also badmouth their sidelines (aka those on the same rank as them) just to save face. Some MLMs themselves go as far as to block their reps from joining other MLMs as along as they are active in them.
So these are the 30 things I learned from watching and reading anti-MLM content. If you ever got a message from someone on social media and thought about joining the MLM company, I will tell you right now… don’t. I can’t stop there, so here are some things you need to know and do before even jumping onboard
- Ask them what MLM company are they with and what they do. If they cannot give an answer right away, it’s a red flag. Legitimate companies always state who they are, what they do, and most importantly, the requirements and qualifications needed to start said job.
- Ask them if you have to pay to join the company. No legitimite job requires you to pay upfront before starting. If a job requires you to have a separate laptop or to have a uniform, they will provide it to you for free. Same with training. They pay you to train. In MLM companies, you have to pay for a starter kit, training, and in some cases, you have to keep buying certain items to stay active
- Do your research. They will tell you, “no, don’t look it up on Google”, and that should raise enough flags for you to go on Google. Typing “is xyz an MLM” is a fantastic place to start. You can also go here and either type in the company or use the drop down button to find the name. Also, keep searching for things like reviews, lawsuits, and YouTube videos explaining the tactics the company uses. Be very wary of some companies with only positive reviews. If there are negative reviews, see them first, and weigh them with positive reviews.
- If you have friends and/or family members that might be in a MLM, the best course of action is to try to talk to them about how they fare at their company. If possible, bring facts, figures, and receipts with you. They will try to either reject or rationalize the figures, but above all, make sure you remain calm but firm in your position
I want to thank you for reading if you have made it this far. This is something I wouldn’t say I’m 100% passionate about, but this is a topic that I would like to write about in this blog. If you like, stick around and read my other blog posts on other topics, or click on the links at the top of the page. I don’t have the necessary software to do videos, so instead, I will leave a few for reference