‘Want to join our team?’ I was just another potential sale. Spammed. Annoyed. Grossed out. Even ‘unforgivable.’: Woman criticizes social media marketing, ‘This isn’t how you actually support women’

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“This may ruffle some feathers, but I just need to say it. Hopefully I’m not alone in noticing this. Or maybe my kids are right, and I am just crazy…

Head to Instagram and click the hashtag #bossbabe or #girlssupportinggirls. You’ll see women who are thriving in their element! It looks empowering, and I know it really can be, but there’s a problem bubbling under all this, and it’s in most of our DMs. Hashtags that exist to empower other women are also being lumped in with a big problem in the direct sales world. It happens when the line between making a sale and showing support is crossed without regard for feelings.

I’ve heard Jenna Kutcher say, ‘Stop trying to provide me a solution for something that’s not a problem.’ I just shake my head in agreement. Last year, I lost a lot of weight, made some changes, and wanted to celebrate my milestone online. But I was so scared to post a picture hitting a goal because I didn’t want any more messages telling about what all I could do to get ‘better’ results. Doesn’t that suck?

I got them a lot while I posted about healthy changes I was making. You know the ones like: ‘Looking great! Have you tried _____ for your stretch marks?’ or ‘Such good work! Want to join our team for even better, faster, quicker results?’

To the person sending the messages, I was just another potential sale. I existed to help them hit a rank, make a buck, or put their kid through some kind of dance lessons. (Yes, I’ve read the heartwarming stories.)

Yet, being on the receiving end of an ‘invite to join their tribe’ was hard. Of course, at first, when I saw those words pop up on my screen, I rolled my eyes and knew exactly what they were. An empty compliment and a BADLY disguised version of: ‘Hey, what you’ve done is cool and all, but have you bought this thing I’m selling yet?’

But even worse, it also planted doubt in the way I felt about myself and body. On one hand, I saw their smiling faces with the captions being various forms of #girlssupportgirls on their photos. On the other, I just witnessed their being so impersonal, unhelpful, and unsupportive without any prompt from me. It was like interacting with two different people — the bubbly, cheerleader publicly and the distant salesman privately. The difference made my head spin, and I experienced a bit of #workathomewhiplash, if you will.

I would scroll their feed after their message, probably gaining more knowledge about them in this time than they did about me before they brought up my stretch marks. I’d always shockingly see the photos of them posed with their daughters and wondered, ‘Does this kind of person complain about the media and Hollywood warping our daughters’ views of our body, yet get online and speak like this to others? How would they feel if someone one day messaged unprompted ‘solutions’ to their daughter about ‘fixing’ her body?’

I’m not alone in these feelings either. I asked how my friends felt about what they share online being turned into a pitch (different from when they are actually looking for new products). Spammed. Annoyed. Grossed out. Even ‘unforgivable’ were some words they used. Several admitted to blocking or even reporting people for this behavior too.

Now, if you really know me, you’ll know I’m ALL about creating communities, and I’m even willing to support someone doing direct sales. If they love what they are doing and selling, can create interest without their marketing plan being ‘planting seeds of doubt in others’ or ‘finding flaws to message others about fixing,’ I think it’s great! My hope is they stay encouraged to keep sharing about it on their feed so others can follow along and ask for more info IF they want.

BUT the second someone drops into an inbox to try to provide an unsolicited solution for a ‘problem’ they THINK someone has, they deserve to be ignored or maybe even blocked. For someone to invade another’s happy, online space with a backhanded compliment makes their access to future posts or even a response to an issue.

My hope for 2020 and on is when someone bravely puts their journey and struggles out there, it won’t be viewed as an invitation to jump in and try to look for a problem to solve so money is made. That’s gross, hurtful, and it isn’t how you actually #supportwomen. You can think it’s not even an issue, but when I see friends and public figures dealing with life-threatening diseases and horrible diagnosis asking people to NOT message with recommendations or ‘samples’ because they don’t have the strength to handle that, I KNOW it is a very big problem.

Still, maybe you’ve done this before and had success, please hear me out though. You don’t need to constantly look for others’ weaknesses, and prey on them as leverage to reach short term goals. That’s how people make a quick buck before moving onto the next thing. To build an ’empire’ that actually lasts, you have to EMPOWER others with your own stories and honesty, so they feel confident and informed about making a purchase from you that leads to their happiness. People have to always be a priority over the sale.

This year, before you blindly follow an #bossbabe upline or advice on Pinterest, you have to decide, what kind of business and tribe are you here to build? And are you really here to ‘support girls,’ even if they don’t buy from you, or is that just an empty hashtag you post online?”

Courtesy of Courtney Abernathy

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Courtney Abernathy. Follow her journey on Instagram hereDo you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more stories from Courtney here: 

‘I’d just turned 18 when this strange man I met minutes before gave me life-altering news: ‘You’re pregnant.’: Teen mom says ‘things from your past don’t define who you will grow to be’

‘She’s very vocal….’ A woman in Walmart made me cry over a comment she made about my toddler. The shame crashed down all over me.’: Mom feels guilt for misjudging stranger after noticing her comment about her daughter

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