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8 Comments Received

Lewis Green
December 2nd, 2008 @12:54 pm  

Todd,

I occasionally get SPAM comments attempting to drive readers to a blog or a web site in order to sell them something. As soon as I am aware of them via TypePad, which is set up to forward all comments to me (not for moderating but to respond to), I go to my comments page, mark them as SPAM, and delete them. To me, SPAM doesn’t represent any marketing strategy or tactic I would either recommend nor do I believe many marketers use SPAM.

You indicate the internship was at an advertising agency. I argue such as agency knows little to nothing about marketing, and I would have outed them.

Jen Harris
December 2nd, 2008 @1:18 pm  

Phew! Glad this article was about Astroturfing and not bashing on peeps like me! :)
I am officially the TSheets “Head of Social Media Sales & Marketing” and I LOVE my job.
I blog, comment, Twitter, assist in appropriate communities, Ask & Answer questions on LinkedIn, participate in Facebook etc, etc. etc. I am very open and honest with people and let them know who I am, who I work for & that I am there to shake their hand, engage (even about non-work related things!) and make sure they know that I am here to help.
It is too bad that traditional marketing companies think they have to astroturf and continue the “lies” that they tell us, the consumers. I honestly believe that this next generation is going to come in & kick the doors down of those that don’t get it, embrace it, take it on or believe in it…more power to them! And we all know what “it” is.
If you are communicating with your customers in any other voice than your own – shame on you…and, just a side note: you will be found out. No hiding anymore friends! :)
-jen
@jenharris09

Todd Van Hoosear
December 2nd, 2008 @1:27 pm  

Oh believe me Lewis, I’m not trying to protect the company—merely the person who was employed by them, who certainly saw the light… Though if she sees this and wants to enlighten us, she’s welcome to… :-)

I’m also certainly not indicting most marketers, nor their practices. I agree that this kind of tactic is practiced only by a very small minority of marketers.

But I also fear from my own personal experience that there is still a large majority of marketers who do not grok social media sufficiently to perhaps understand the full ramifications of such a practice, should it be recommended (or even used without the client’s permission in order to show traffic growth in hopes that the client is clueless enough not to actually look at the web logs).

Susan K
December 2nd, 2008 @3:40 pm  

Astroturfing is bad on so many levels. 1. You always get caught and 2. You always get stuck with a PR nightmare.

What’s a better method is if you are going to moderate a discussion identify yourself and say what you are trying to do – open and honestly. IMO, that always works better for everyone.

John Cass
December 2nd, 2008 @8:38 pm  

I recall I went to an interview a few years ago in New Hampshire with a company, and was told that their agency was engaged in astroturfing practices, that was unfortunate because the client was being advised by a professional agency.

Have you also seen the New PR Wiki’s campaign against Astroturfing, there are a lot of great case studies on the wiki. Paull Young helped spearhead the campaign.

Todd Van Hoosear
December 3rd, 2008 @10:50 am  
Arthur Germain (@ahg3)
December 4th, 2008 @10:39 am  

Todd,

Great points. My twitter post seems to be a day or so late on the same topic. I agree with Jen (above) that you’ve got to be completely transparent and upfront if you’re responding. I actually recommend agencies monitor and highlight relevant blogs and posts to clients who can then engage directly. But the stories I’ve heard were similar to yours, maybe less pathetic.

ahg3

Todd Van Hoosear
December 4th, 2008 @12:39 pm  

A fellow Boston-based social media practitioner private-messaged me (so I’ll not share his name) a note reminding me that “astroturfing is how most things go popular on Digg…”

No wonder I really don’t use Digg that much to find my news (but feel free to click the “Digg this” button below… :-) )