Sponsor Hunter: Tossing due diligence out the window
Ever since the meteoric rise of Facebook, network marketers have sought to capitalise on the what is essentially the biggest online network on the planet.
Whilst some try to integrate themselves with Facebook itself and us it as a tool to gain exposure and build their networks, others still seek to replicate the Facebook experience.
One such attempt is the newly pre-launched social network, ‘Sponsor Hunter’.
Sponsor Hunter seeks to centralise the MLM industry by placing itself as the go-to site for information-seeking prospective leads looking into MLM businesses.
The basic idea is that for a monthly fee, members of various MLM companies can then list themselves as available sponsors to those browsing the site.
Sponsor Hunter’s concept itself sounds simple enough, but it’s not without its problems.
The centralized information model
First off we’ve got the idea of a centralised information database. This means that, although the business listing are supposedly unbiased, they’re still at the mercy of Sponsor Hunter’s owners.
With this comes the realisation that as the Sponsor Hunter network grows, inversely the control companies and individual members have over their marketing efforts.
Eventually if Sponsor Hunter does achive it’s goal of becoming the ‘go-to’ place for MLM company information, individual marketers as a collective are going to find themselves having to use the service.
Good for Sponsor Hunters bottom dollar, but is relying solely on a third party network for information distribution really in the MLM industry’s best interests?
To answer that question, let’s stop for a moment and think about what kind of information we’re going to find on Sponsor Hunter. Despite toting itself as a social network, the fact that ‘sponsors’ need to pay to list themselves as available means that primarily the type of traffic being driven to Sponsor Hunter is going to be prospective leads, at least in theory.
Here we have the conundrum that despite the information on Sponsor Hunter perhaps being solid, as a company member, you can’t help but be painfully aware that by sending your prospective leads there, you’re inadvertently exposing them to whole host of alternative sponsors.
As for those that come via the search engines, think about what makes search engine rankings popular;
The answer is a complex algorithm of factors, but one of high importance is the amount of backlinks a site has pointing to it and the quality of the sites these links originate from.
So who’s going to be linkin to Sponsor Hunter’s business websites?
The companies themselves already have a business overview on their websites and linking to specific member profiles on Sponsor Hunter would no doubt draw criticism from within the company due to perceived favouritism.
That leaves the members themselves, and as I’ve already sad – why would they be sending their leads to a site that promotes other members?
No doubt they themselves will have their own replicated website/peronsal website that they’ll want to send their targeted lead traffic too.
Linking strategy (and an overall SEO strategy at that) is something that Sponsor Hunter is going to have to ultimately work out for themselves and they seem to have decided to go the ‘paid incentive’ route.
Calling the plan ‘Golden Money Gate‘, Sponsor Hunter aim to grow their network by financially rewarding members for introducing new members to the network, whether they’re actually looking for a MLM business to join or not.
Whatever the metholody though, ultimately if Sponsor Hunter aren’t succesful at listing themselves in the search engines, that means the overall value of the network will decline dramatically.
Nobody is paying a monthly fee to list themselves as an available sponsor if the lead traffic isn’t there.
Moving on from traffic, we can also analyse the type of information that is going to feature on Sponsor Hunter. Primarily, what we’re looking at is going to be marketing spiel.
From the conversations people have in their networks, the business listings to the sponsor paid listings themselves – no matter what area of Sponsor Hunter we choose to analyse, in one way or another you’re going to see marketing spiel.
That in itself isn’t a bad thing (companies have to promote themselves somehow), but it does showcase a problem with due diligence.
Sponsor Hunter is marketed as what I like to call a ‘final solution’ to MLM social networking. Leads come to the site via the search engines, read up on companies, pick a sponsor and everyone makes money. The reality of the process though is that the information leads are reading on Sponsor Hunter are going to be from marketers or the company themselves.
You can mark my words, any objective criticism and valid genuine concerns aren’t going to find their way onto any of the business listings of Sponsor Hunter anytime soon.
Have a look at the Pyxism MLM business listing at Sponsor Hunter.
Pyxism is Better Business Bureau Accredited with an A Rating! Pyxism provides great travel products and has an amazing compensation plan.
The above is the only real tangible information about Pyxism featured in the listing while the rest of it is largely irrelevant factoids and marketing videos.
Compare this to BehindMLM’s in-depth critical analysis of Pyxism, in which I ultimately concluded that
on the surface, there does appear to be a genuine effort to offer viable retail income streams that are recruitment free to get a pay out, however they are dwarfed by the payouts via the compensation plan.
Unfortunately to get paid out via the compensation plan there is a recruitment requirement (on both the ladders and the residual income streams).
Not that I’m implying you should just go and solely rely on the information you read on BehindMLM either. You shouldn’t. But rather, take the time to go over information, crunch the numbers yourself and take opinions from a diverse range of sources.
Something which Sponsor Hunter effectively discourages through their idea of centralised business listings.
The paid sponsor listings model
Advertising is the lifeline of a social network like Sponsor Hunter and inline with the MLM theme of the site, Sponsor Hunter makes money off company members who pay for an ‘available sponsor’ listing on their site.
The problem with this is that ultimately available sponsor ads are going to have to be listed one way or another, and it’s going to be impossible to not invoke the connotation that those listed at the top are somehow better than listings further down.
Coupled with this is internet behaviour in any type of listing where it’s information they are seeking.
In the largest form of these online listings, search engine results, Search Engine Watch claim that
being number one in Google is the equivalent of all the traffic going to the sites appearing in the second through to fifth positions.
Think this will carry over to paid sponsor listings? You betcha.
The fantasy that people aren’t just going to assume the top few sponsors listed in the results don’t have some kind of authority or implied success in the business is just that, a fantasy.
The percentages might vary slightly but this metric of listings applies not only to search but to any listing of information available on the internet. Especially when we believe the results we are being shown are not only targeted, but highly relevant to whatever it is we’re searching for (which in Sponsor Hunter’s case is available sponsors).
Following on from this is the dilemma that all sponsors are paying the same flat monthly listing rate.
So who’s going to pay the same to have ‘available sponsor position #59’ as the marketer who holds ‘available sponsor position #1’?
Nobody, that’s who.
Trying to rectify this only compounds the problem. Sponsor Hunter can charge sponsors different amounts, effectively turning their sponsor listings into a useless bidding war, or they could randomise the results completely for each sponsor search.
The randomisation technique could work, but is randomisation really the most effective way for marketers to target potential leads?
The concept behind Sponsor Hunter in combining targeted social networking with MLM isn’t necessarily new, but I do believe this is one of the first networks I’ve seen where a broad scope of businesses and their members are represented.
Unfortunately for Sponsor Hunter though, one such social network already exists that does a pretty good job of this.
Not only does Facebook already do everything that Sponsor Hunter does (nothing is stopping you listing yourself as an available sponsor of any MLM opportunity on there), but it’s free to do so and with it carries as much relevance in searching for MLM business opportunities as Sponsor Hunter itself does.
Oh, and did I mention Facebook already has over five hundred million users?
It also already has an established search engine presence and isn’t at the mercy of potentially biased site owners due to third party MLM company interests.
In the case of Sponsor Hunter, whilst I don’t know exactly who’s running it, it’s a safe bet to say that Alan Nettles of Citizen Corps fame has a pretty big piece of the pie.
Recently Nettles has scuttled Citizen Corps and instead of providing semi useful (albeit often at times misleading) information, Nettles has modified all existing company reviews to now simply direct traffic to Sponsor Hunter. Nettles is also behind all of the promotional videos for the site too.
Who else might be involved with Sponsor Hunter I have no idea but I do know that they do reserve the right to ‘remove any content or information you post on Sponsor Hunter if (they) believe that it violates their terms of service.
With at least one owner involved in several MLM schemes, there’s a big question of bias in Sponsor Hunter’s listings. I’m not suggesting the owners are stupid enough to blatantly let this bias creep into paid listings, but would you want to go against Sponsor Hunter’s owners in paid available sponsor listings if you knew they were involved in the same company as you?
With the problems outlined above I don’t really see Sponsor Hunter taking off. Like most MLM social network ideas it’s hard to ignore the money side of things which heavily influences the overall feel of the site.
If a social network site doesn’t feel genuine then people aren’t going to stick around.
As an information database, like it or not you’ve got to include both sides of the coin and quite frankly that’s not going to happen when you rely on your members to cough up a monthly paid advertisement fee.
What we’re then left with is a social network with a bit of an identity crisis, neither useful as a fully fledged social network or as a source of reliable and credible business information.