#social media, and avoiding the pitfalls of astroturfing

The social media space, can, for brands be unchartered territory – actually, a minefield.

And today, again, we see another example of ‘astroturfing’ and the consequences. Astroturfing is when content is developed and seeded online (or elsewhere) by an organisation and presented as being from ‘grassroots’ – consumers, users or non-connected others. This, in the UK, is now illegal – for a brand or company to represent themselves online using an alias or inferring they are a ‘consumer’

A developer has been banned from the iPhone App Store after Glyn Evans advised Apple that a reader of his blog had noticed similarities on reviews for a number of apps – all by the same company. The result is that over 1,000 of its apps for Molinker (from travel apps to instant chat-up lines) have been removed. For Heinz, it would be all baked beans tins being withdrawn from Asda. And Tesco, Sainsburys plus … .. ..

As users rate and review downloaded apps, report problems and share, good ratings see apps rise to the top, bad not.

For brands this is simply, stupidity. And a reminder that social media can build and well as destroy a company.

Update: The Guardian on Astroturfing