Herbalife kills Facebook or the Other Way Around?

Marketing Kills Social Networks and Brands

The Scenario

Growing invasion of Marketers into Social Network Communities are contributing fast to the end of the Social Network frenzy. While there are always the more moderate marketers, it’s namely the aggressive approach and the sheer game of numbers which are hurting Network Communities fast.

Increasing numbers of incidents of breach of privacy and their long term, some times life changing consequences, scare people away or trigger protection mechanisms which are contra-productive for the sound evolution of a network based on friendship, private relations, naive and innocent exchange of views and thoughts.

Social networks may be a great place to meet and communicate with friends. However, the chances for making new, well intended new friends decrease every day, with the growing number of push marketers invading the space and spamming contacts with their best deal here and best price there, not to talk about the business opportunities which will make you rich quick so you can retire young and wealthy.

Herbalife goes Facebook

When recently Herbalife launched its facebook offensive, creating its own group and stimulating their distributors to market Herbalife on facebook, they were just following what others had started 2 years earlier. Looking at facebook and the list of communities, you will find tons of MLMs trying to invade social networks under their brand label; some do it more others less discretely.

The same applies to sects and other (internet) guru lead communities. Facebook has become the playground for all those we want to keep away from our private sphere, i.e. people who under the cover of friendship aim our valet.

Nothing against Gurus and Herbalife. It’s just a matter of expectations; as a social networker you expect to meet with like minded people in a relaxed atmosphere.

You don’t hang out on facebook to discover that you have been invited to become a friend of a friend because you are an ideal target for marketers who want you to swallow synthetic vitamins and to boost your excitement with Guarana while losing weight with genetically modified soy shakes before getting involved in the best business opportunity on earth consisting in “sharing” with all your friends the same nonsense.

It’s like in private life: when you are relaxing at the beach or enjoying the 19th hole on the golf course, do you want to be bothered with Business Opportunities?

When you are enjoying the best stake in town with these great tasting junk fries, do you want to hear about weight management?

Or when you are in a romantic flirt slurping a Tom Collins, do you want to be harassed with potential enhancers for your reproduction mechanics? When you can taste fresh cold pressed natural Greek Olive Oil do you want to hear of anti-oxidant powders co-signed by a Nobel Price winner who was paid more than a million of dollars to stick his signature on to the box of a food-suplement?

Hey, did you notice, the highest healthy life expectancy on earth is where there are no food supplements, such as in Crete (Greece) and some lost place in Japan.

In country clubs, tennis clubs and such like, it usually is not allowed to do push marketing … or you are kicked out.

In Social Networks there is no protection and this is increasingly annoying people who meet there to enjoy a good time.

Facebook kills your Brand and your Name

Many companies have already experienced the danger of social networks. While at the beginning they thought that social network marketing was a great idea, because one could reach out for zillions of sheep to grab their wool, they noticed quickly the backfiring effects.

Today, brands go to Social Networks to protect the brand rather than to market it aggressively. Individual Work from Home freaks spam communities and kill their personal reputation as well as often the image of the brand they are representing.

This is where Herbalife is late and therefore wrong, very wrong and if I had to guess about the outcome I would say: the reputation of Herbalife will terribly suffer from their Facebook Project and the negative perception of Herbalife in offline communities will quickly expand worldwide through social networks.

Some may say: it’s better that way, so they will fall off the face of the earth faster than otherwise; for how long can you hide to internet contacts that anyone can buy Herbalife products at huge discount online and that you can do Herbalife related business as an Amazon affiliate for free rather than spending thousands of bucks on stock of products.

Herbalife is one of the last businesses online where you have to pay to be allowed to promote their products; it’s a disapearing species, simply because it’s an outdated business model, namely online where transparency reigns.

The Internet is the killer of MLM as the Internet compresses away MLM margins. Just check out eBay, Amazon and other price comparison engines to find out that Product Prices cannot be protected online.

With Social Networks, the internet has also become the killer of Brands, namely Brands which are not tightly managed and controlled. The MLM Model pushes marketing and its cost into the shoes of the Distributors and you end up with a fuzzy image, at some places good at others lousy … it depends on the Distributor involved and the perception people have from his action. Lousy images travel faster.

And if Herbalife was desperate or extremely shrewd?

Maybe Herbalife just could not do anything else than joining facebook. Maybe they noticed that many of their distributors are hanging out on facebook anyway and that their network becomes the target of other marketers. Maybe they have noticed that social networks are a huge danger for any MLM network in as much as anyone can talk to anyone and become friends…and delete friends as well. It’s exactly the contrary from the strict rules in commercial MLM networks where once you are tied to a referrer, you stay there for ever, irrespective of your affinities or preferences.

Yes, there has been talk about Herbalife on facebook before Herbalife joined, and it was not always nice. Maybe Herbalife moves in to protect it’s brand and to put some rules and restrictions on the behavior of their distributors – again a move against basic freedom of expression people joined facebook for.

Maybe also Herbalife is aware of the dangers from facebook as well as about the threat it constitutes for facebook? And may be they are shrewder than anyone expected and try to kill facebook before facebook kills Herbalife?

It would be a brilliant strategy to survive. Join facebook with 1 to 2 million of your networkers and mess up the place by harassing the world with pills and powders. A network such as Herbalife can mess up a place in no time, and believe me they have well started already. And Herbalife Distributors are in good company with all the other hype marketers making facebook an unatractive place to hang out at.


The dangerous game of Social Network Marketing, once described as the ultimate sales and expansion strategy, may be profitable on the short term, but on the longer run there will be no winner, just victims. Brands will suffer, facebook will be the place to circumvent like Google Ads on a website and people will find other places, other means to communicate, or marketers will have to move to anti-marketing strategies.

I do not know who will survive, but when 2 multi-billion Dollar companies try to screw up each other publicly, it sure is a great match to attend.