Astroturfing: How NOT to approach social media
"Astroturfing" happens all too often by marketers trying to infiltrate the social Web, and many practice it blindly without understanding how potentially damaging it can be to their company's reputation and brand.
First, let's define Astroturfing: It's the efforts of an individual (or group of individuals) - compensated by a company - posting information to blogs, message boards and social networks, posing as an average consumer with positive things to say about that company. To sum up: the attempt to create a fake grassroots movement to market a service or product. Hence the name Astroturfing.
Efforts like this are disingenuous and can be spotted easily with simple IP address tracking, which can lead to a public relations black eye for all parties - whether it is the company itself or their marketing partners.
Kami Huyse of Communications Overtones talks further about best practices and established an Anti-Astroturfing Code of Ethics here.
It comes down to one simple truth: Positive word-of-mouth can't be manufactured, it must be earned.