Last week I dove into Nu Skin, the successful cosmetic and nutritional supplements MLM, and how they approach online MLM compliance. Keeping in mind the same high level issues such as what a distributor is allowed to do, and restricted from, this week I am looking into MonaVie, the maker of premium quality nutritional products.
MonaVie Online and Social Media MLM compliance
MonaVie provides its distributors with both a policies and procedures document and social media guidelines. Both documents take a delicate approach to the world of online marketing with a strict understanding of MLM compliance and how it can effect distributors and the company.
Permitted Internet Activities
-“If a distributor desires to utilize an internet web page to promote their business, they may do so through MonaVie’s official website or through a MonaVie approved replicated website.”
-“After initial approval of the website is obtained, the Distributor may not change or modify its website without the express written consent of the company.”
-“Websites that are owned, operated, or managed by a distributor may not redirect a viewer to any other website, regardless of to or from page content.”
-“Distributors who have achieved the rank of Black Diamond may develop their own web pages. However, any Black Diamond who does so: (a) must use only text found on the company’s official website; (b) may not supplement the content of their website with text from any source other than the company; (c) must register their site(s) with the compliance department and receive written permission from compliance prior to the site’s public availability.”
What does this mean for distributors? Let me translate; MonaVie gives limited access to a replicated corporate site, tying the hands of every distributor trying to build a presence and grow their business. New distributors have much fewer tools and options to achieve a higher status and a stronger down-line; by being unable to connect a personal website to their replicated site, where conversions occur, MonaVie creates a disconnect at the most important juncture in the relationship between these two sites. With restrictions like these MonaVie is ultimately limiting the potential of the entire range of distributors.
Social Media Activities Permitted by MonaVie
-Maintain a blog or profile page on one of the social or business networking sites (e.g., Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace);
-Comment on others’ blogs for personal or business reasons;
-Leave product or service reviews on retailer sites or customer review sites;
-Take part in online votes and polls; or
-Take part in conversations on public and private web forums (message boards).
– Distributors must ALWAYS disclose their relationship or identify themselves as a MonaVie Independent Distributor when making any comment in regard to a MovaVie or a MovaVie product.
– Distributors may not use these avenues to EVER promote the MonaVie opportunity or any of its products, this right is solely reserved for Black Diamond distributors.
MonaVie is taking a progressive approach to how their distributors use Social Media, but is still leaving them falling behind when it comes to replicated websites and how to maintain web presence without sacrificing MLM compliance. Their Social Media goes into slightly more detail, but the main points are covered above. A great start to a Social Media Policy indeed.
Balancing Web Presence with MLM Compliance
MonaVie has set out some things distributors can do as noted above, however the bigger constraints arise when they try to brand themselves and carve out a name online. Lets have a look at distributor restrictions and the limits put on potential.
-“MonaVie will not allow the use of its trade names, trademarks, designs, or symbols outside of corporate- produced and -approved sales aids by any person, including MonaVie Distributors, without prior written authorization from MonaVie “
-“Distributors may not use or attempt to register or sell any of MonaVie’s trade names, trademarks, service names, service marks, product names, or any derivative thereof, for any internet domain name or email address.”
-“Distributors must disclose their relationship as a MonaVie distributor when making comments online.”
-“Distributors who provide testimonials online and offline must be truthful and subject to typical results.”
Ex. “MonaVie Pulse restored my eyesight.” While that may be an honest opinion, it is not a typical result, and therefore, any such opinion posted online or said offline would be in violation of the current guidelines, unless there is valid research to support the claim.
Ex. “I made $25,000 in one month with MonaVie, and you can too.” While this statement may be true…the result is not “typical.” Such statements would be in violation of the current guidelines. Whenever discussing earnings, you should refer to the Income Disclosure Statement and provide the link or actual document.
Obviously, this will shy any distributor away from devoting too much time in online marketing, not only are the tools very limited, but the possibilities with those tools are highly regulated. Coupled with a dominant, yet underlying, threat that action can be taken against unruly distributors, many must shy away from trying to skirt the line at the risk of losing their business.
Possible Disciplinary Actions
-“Imposition of a fine, which may be imposed immediately or withheld from future bonus or commission checks.”
-“Suspension, which may result in termination or rein- statement with conditions or restrictions.”
-“Termination of your Independent Distributorship.”
MonaVie Distributors Making a Presence while Maintaining MLM Compliance
The presence of disciplinary action is a very reactive approach to dealing with MLM compliance. This approach will cause some apprehension with distributors and cause them to be timid online, or worse yet; make the choice to not build an online presence at all, eventually limiting their own potential and the growth of the company. Companies such as Nu Skin and MonaVie should be taking advantage of powerful new tools and focusing on preemptive MLM compliance and its role in company policy and guidelines.
While taking decent strides in opening up Social Media to its distributors, MovaVie still creates and enforces a disconnect between those pages and a place to actually convert people into customers or prospective downliners. An understandable disconnect, but one that will hurt them in the years to come.