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ERSU ABLAK > Is social media going fake?

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Social media has been hyped in the business cycles for years now. The rise of platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Vkontakte, Orkut, Pinterest, Instagram etc. have enabled companies to reach millions with creative campaigns. That’s why social media is getting a bigger chunk of marketing and advertisement budgets each year. Some of the biggest spenders openly suggested that they are going social and cutting the entire budget for television campaigns.

However I am afraid that these huge budgets might not do well for social media. Companies don’t really understand that interactive social media is not controllable. However these huge entities like to control everything. Therefore they think that buying comments will solve their problems.

Consumers’ increased reliance on social media ratings and reviews will see enterprise spending on paid social media ratings and reviews increase, making up 10 to 15 percent of all reviews by 2014, according to Gartner, Inc. However, analysts predict that increased media attention to fake social media ratings and reviews will result in at least two Fortune 500 brands facing litigation from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over the next two years.

“With over half of the Internet’s population on social networks, organizations are scrambling for new ways to build bigger follower bases, generate more hits on videos, garner more positive reviews than their competitors and solicit ‘likes’ on their Facebook pages,” said Jenny Sussin, senior research analyst at Gartner. “Many marketers have turned to paying for positive reviews with cash, coupons and promotions including additional hits on YouTube videos in order to pique site visitors’ interests in the hope of increasing sales, customer loyalty and customer advocacy through social media ‘word of mouth’ campaigns.”

The last two paragraphs are from Gartner’s press release and clearly show that huge budgets can cause the death of social media as we like it.

I was afraid that the end of social media would come from oppression by governments, but it seems like a flood of fake comments from huge companies is the real threat. Companies who want to strive in social media should understand that they can buy good comments from real people. They will see in time that doing something really good is more effective than trying to buy their way out with fake comments. People don’t ask for anything to pass on valuable information or good infotainment products. I suggest companies use their budgets for better creativity rather than lies.

Gartner also shows a way in their report: “Organizations engaging in social media can help to promote trust by openly embracing both positive and negative reviews and leveraging negative reviews as a way to encourage customers with positive product or service experiences to share them on review sites as well.”

September/20/2012

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