"Hey girlie! So sorry to bother you, but I was scrolling through your Instagram, and I couldn't help but think that you'd love these amaaaaaazing products I have! Want to help me out by being a product tester?"
"Hey girl hey! I have some bomb dot com products you would LOVE for helping get that summer body on! You interested in joining my team?"
"OMG! You're gorgeous! I think you'd be a great fit to test products for my company and join my team! Wanna hear more?"
If you've never had a message like the ones above in your Instagram dm's, then, congratulations! You've never been targeted by an MLM. For those who don't know, MLM stands for Multi-Level Marketing, and long story short, it's a pyramid scheme. Multi-Level Marketing is a strategy used by direct sales companies "to encourage their existing distributors to recruit new distributors by paying the existing distributors a percentage of their recruits' sales; the recruits are known as a distributor's "downline." All distributors also make money through direct sales of products to customers" (source). Just by quickly researching a few well-known MLMs online (ItWorks, LuLaRoe, Amway, doTerra) and reading testimonials by former employees, it's clear that not only are these companies a scam, they also are nearly impossible to build a successful career with.
However, my main issue with MLMs is their ruthless targeting of college girls. Almost all of my friends have checked their dm requests and found a "Hey there girlie!" message waiting from an MLM pusher at least once. Often, these messages will promise at least one of three things:
1. That you will get an A+, #goals, Instagram-Model worthy, beach ready body after just using their products for only a few weeks.
2. That you can make six figures selling these products.
3. That these products actually work.
To be honest, I feel bad for anyone who falls for the promises in these dms. First of all, it is very, very hard to completely transform your body in a few weeks through just diet and exercise alone, never mind through using products not regulated by the FDA or even proven to work. Second, your chances of becoming a millionaire through working for an MLM are only good if you're at the top. If you're just another seller, your chances are not that great. And third, there's no proof by the FDA that these products work.
Another thing MLM pushers will tell you is that their products cure all sorts of ailments. Essential oil MLMs are by far the worst offenders when it comes to this. From claiming to work as antibiotics, to being the cure for both Cancer and Alzheimers, essential oil MLMs promise that their products can take the place of a doctor, when they in fact, cannot. And to be honest, would you really trust an unregulated product to cure a serious illness?
So, what's a girl to do when bombarded with MLM pushing dms? Personally, I tried to turn them down at first, saying things like "hey, thanks for reaching out, but I'm really picky about the products I use and I don't want to use anything unregulated, sorry!", but that only caused a flood of negative responses, many of which accused me of "not supporting small businesses" (quite ironic considering that MLMs are definitely not the same thing a local Mom and Pop store). To be honest, unless you want to get into an argument through Instagram dms, just ignore them. As "mom advice" as it may sound, after a while they should get the hint and leave you alone, and if they don't, the block button exists for a reason.
I don't think that MLMs are going away any time soon, but hopefully people will begin to become more informed about their shady business practices and unregulated products. Until then, if a product advertised on Instagram (or anywhere else) seems too good to be true, do your research before buying. As they say, better safe than sorry.