Oops, Motorola caught astroturfing this week, and in brazen style on some of the world’s biggest blogs. Boing Boing this week posted ‘Motorola, could you please tell your viral marketer to get out of our comments?’, after they got hit with gems like:
“I’m so glad my boss isn’t like that! I’m working with Motorola right now, and became a huge fan of the Krave (motorola.com/krave). I especially like the full touch screen display and html web browser. It’s awesome!”
Eek! It comes across odd even if it had been in context, but to repeat it several times on one highly active site is asking for trouble. Seeing this, Crunch Gear also realised they were being targeted and duly posted – You’re doing it wrong: Motorola astroturfs just about everyone – giving social media consultants a good dig at the same time. All very messy, the comments are just lazy and screamingly obvious to those web-savvy people Motorola’s marketers were hoping might read it – evident in the immediate copycat comments:
“I’m so glad my boss isn’t like that! I’m working for Burger King right now, and became a huge fan of the Mushroom and Swiss Steakhouse Burger. I especially like the cheese and mushrooms. It’s awesome!”
The early adopting, blog-reading consumers they were trying to reach obviously spotted this as spammy marketing, and will likely have been put off by every comment they read, not to mention the damage done by this ensuing coverage.
It’s unusual to see astroturfing from such a big brand on such big blogs, it’s illegal in the UK but it’s a complicated area and we still spot it at work. Technically as this guy admits he works for Motorola this isn’t astroturfing, but it adds nothing to the conversation – it’s just shouting at people and then running off! It’s the kind of activity that emphasises that the laws against astroturfing are there for brands own good. Commenting is a tricky area, obviously there’s no better way to show you’re listening to the space than responding to what others put out there, but it needs to be part of a long-term strategy and a relationship, not campaign or product driven blitz.
Surprising to see a big brand caught out like this, makes me annoyed about the advice Motorola were given and accepted from someone giving social media communications a really bad name.