Why You Look Insensitive When Sharing Your Products Online

I debated whether or not to post this one, but I think it will really benefit those of you that sell health and wellness products, particularly, and it has applications for others as well.

This past weekend I posted on my personal Facebook Profile that my son and I were sick.  Part of the reason I did is because I wanted our friends at church to know why we weren’t there this past Sunday (I’d been planning to sing in the choir, etc.)  And I got a pretty snippy private message in response from a direct seller who informed me that she takes my advice, so I should really take hers and use her products.  “It goes both ways,” she informed me, and honestly, this was the SECOND time I’d said my kid was sick.  Yep, that seriously was the message, and it seriously questioned what was wrong with me.

Now I debated just blocking this individual (which I did) and moving on.  But then I got to thinking about how we present health and wellness products through social channels.  You see, when someone is only an online contact, you most likely don’t have all the information.  You only know what that person chooses to share through their social networks.  So you have no idea what kind of advice their doctor may be giving, if there are any underlying illnesses, sensitivities, or genetic weaknesses that someone might have, etc.  You are not a doctor.

And the thing is, you may be SO excited about your products, and they have worked SO well for you, that you come off completely insensitive when presenting them to others.  Believe me, I KNOW your heart is in the right place.  You want people to experience the same benefits you have.  But think about how this looks to others.  What it comes off as is you seeking to profit off of someone else’s misfortune or illness.  And that’s a big turnoff.

What would have been a better approach?

  • Sharing generic advice…drink lots of water and tea, etc.
  • Expressing sympathy that someone isn’t feeling well.
  • Sharing a link to an article that you or your company has written on how to cope with seasonal illnesses.  The article should cover common sense advice, and refer to how the ingredients in your products can also help.

When someone isn’t feeling well, or is dealing with a sick kid, this isn’t the time for a product pitch.  This is the time for relationship-building activities that let someone know you care.  That will take you much further when it comes to building a long-term relationship with someone.

This also has applications for other types of products.  When someone is sharing something on a personal profile that they’re unhappy about, unless they’re specifically asking for advice or a product recommendation, don’t be insensitive.  Instead, offer sympathy and content that gives people information that they need to make better decisions.  But don’t assume you have all the information.  You don’t.

Your thoughts?

image credit: CarbonNYC

22 Responses to Why You Look Insensitive When Sharing Your Products Online
  1. James McLellan
    January 19, 2011 | 4:05 pm

    I fully agree. Get the person to share what he/she wants to. You want to help, not to pry out information. Show sympathy. Perhaps suggest various products that have helped you, such as OTC items and various supplements, from stores or from an online source. Don’t offer more opinions than somebody asks for.

  2. Tisa Yonts
    January 19, 2011 | 3:08 pm

    Makes ya wonder, is that approach really working for them?
    And if so, is it worth it to live life that way?
    Unfortunately, I have had a few negative experiences with consultants from different companies that have made me wonder this.

  3. Sue Holden
    January 19, 2011 | 2:00 pm

    Thank you SO much for your post. I market health and wellness products AND come from a background in the medical field as an RN. Your statement of “You are not a doctor” is right on target. Many of us are very dedicated to helping others as part of our passions and goals, but there is a line between being familiar/experienced with our product and “prescribing” its use – one I have to work very hard not to cross.
    Thank you, again, for addressing a really important issue.
    Be well & have fun,
    Sue

  4. Scott Ryne
    January 19, 2011 | 1:38 pm

    I am not sure why you had to think before posting this, excellent advice. As I was reading I found myself thinking what she should have done (thanks to you) and the better way to handle this. Guess what? Your suggestions matched exactly what I was thinking. If I did not follow you I may have made the same mistake this person made. Maybe they just need some more education. Maybe a short note explaining to them what they did wrong? Just a thought.

  5. Joyce Holthaus
    January 19, 2011 | 11:25 am

    Thanks Jennifer for a great post! As someone who is in the health & wellness industry it is embarassing how often this happens to people like yourself! If we would always remember to put the relationship above all else and be a friend first!! Hope by the time you read this you and your daughter are feeling better…nothing worse than when our children are sick (adds gray hairs!).

    • Jennifer Fong
      January 19, 2011 | 1:20 pm

      Thanks Joyce!

  6. Karen Austin
    January 18, 2011 | 3:56 pm

    Thanks Jennifer for the post. It’s all about learning and education. That’s why your posts are so full of value. I wish you and your son a speedy recovery and want to thank you, even sick you are there helping us be better at direct sales and social media. What a work ethic!

    • Jennifer Fong
      January 18, 2011 | 4:04 pm

      Thanks Karen!

  7. Clare
    January 18, 2011 | 12:47 pm

    I think that this gets the same reaction on-line as it would in person. I have a child with arthritis of the spine. And when he was a preschooler and would complain that his back was hurting, strangers would comment to him and say “You’re too young for back pain. Just wait until you’re my age, then you’ll know what back pain is!”
    OH, it would make me livid!
    And this is the same thing — she may think that she knows you because you have a “business relationship” on-line. But, truly — do you know her? Does she know you?
    So — I’m just agreeing with you, Jen.
    You should never make snippy comments to someone about anything — have you ever asked someone if she was planning to have children, only to find she just had a miscarriage?
    You really have to think about what you post — think, would I say that to a stranger?
    Then post what is appropriate.

    • Jennifer Fong
      January 18, 2011 | 1:14 pm

      Exactly Clare. As an adoptive parent who has adopted children with special needs, I have also had my share of…shall we say “interesting”…comments. Sometimes folks really need to think before they speak…or type, in this case. We just need to remember that, especially online, you really don’t have all the information.

    • Tisa Yonts
      January 19, 2011 | 3:11 pm

      Wow Clair, how horrible that must have been for you to hear that again and again when you were suffering!

  8. Scott Bradley
    January 18, 2011 | 11:44 am

    Jen-

    This happens to me all the time too. It is so disrespectful and I immediately just delete the message.

    In most instances direct sellers who participate in this behavior are not doing themselves any favors.

    A personal message to you asking if there is anything they can do to help you and your son would have been much more personal.

    Did you respond back with anything, and use it as a teaching lesson?

    -Scott

    • Jennifer Fong
      January 18, 2011 | 11:50 am

      I just left it alone, because I was irritated and didn’t want to be unprofessional. :) Must be the illness. lol

      • Dede Mills
        January 20, 2011 | 1:56 pm

        Bless your heart. I believe your decision to “leave it alone” was indicative of a professional. You are sensitive to your family. I am a seller, and most of the time I receive good feedback. There are those who are tunnel minded, and as soon as they speak, are recognized. Good Luck.

  9. Melody
    January 18, 2011 | 9:37 am

    I totally agree with you, sure some times the thought crosses my mind… I wonder if this friend knows about my product that might help? I generally comment offering my sympathies with out any self promotion. In rare cases depending on how well or what I know about the person, I might add, I think I might know of something that could help and leave it up to them to ask me if they want to know more. But I would never, ever think to send a snippy or rude private message. That would only ensure the person never, ever tried my suggestion and the end of the friendship as well.

    Knowing your friend is vital (the relationship) before you comment or private message them. For example, I know someone like yourself Jennifer who works in the industry as a trainer probably gets pitched a lot and as nice as you are, it’s bound to get tiresome! So I wouldn’t risk our friendship by pitching you my products in trade for a couple of dollars. I like, respect you and value your friendship and hope you feel the same way about me.

    • Jennifer Fong
      January 18, 2011 | 11:52 am

      You’re right, Melody, I do get pitched a lot. And I’m often careful about what I post, because, as a person connected with many direct sellers, I do sometimes get flack for things normal people can post without crazy feedback. But erring on the side of caution is always a good idea. Better to share when people are at their best, rather than when they’re just trying to get through and are probably not receptive to your message anyway.

      Thanks for commenting!

  10. Pearly
    January 18, 2011 | 9:37 am

    Hi Jeniffer,
    Very well written post telling your true experience. I can relate to how you feel :-)

    Thanks for shsring and I look forward to read more from your post.

    Cheers
    Pearly

  11. Nicole Rushin
    January 18, 2011 | 9:25 am

    I don’t know why people feel the need to do this. She may have been coached by her upline to scour the internet for prospects. It was very insensitive though. The thing that caught my attention is that she was taking your advice. It doesn’t sound like it! I think the best way to sell a health and wellness product is to be a living example of the effects of the product. Just live and live well. People will want to know where you get all your energy. People will want to know what you are putting on your skin. We have to be generic when it comes to health and wellness content. There are so many regulations on what we can say and not say. Most people are not interested in the details of a product anyway, they want to live well. They want to get up in the morning with energy and feel good when they go to bed. A great post. Thanks for sharing it!

    • Jennifer Fong
      January 18, 2011 | 11:52 am

      Exactly Nicole. Thanks for commenting.

  12. Cheri Semple
    January 18, 2011 | 9:10 am

    Well said – sorry to hear you are sick. We’ve had our rounds here too. It’s a shame someone decided to be overbearing on their products – it gives us all a bad name. Kudos for blocking her – that is what I would have done too. feel better soon!

    • Jennifer Fong
      January 18, 2011 | 11:52 am

      Thanks Cheri.

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