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In the World of “Follows,” “Friends,” and “Fans,” What is Real, What is True?

August 22nd, 2011

Newt Gingrich must have been embarrassed (and somewhat outraged) when, after boasting that he had more Twitter followers than any other candidate, it was revealed that his interactive communications had been managed to artificially increase twitter followers through false accounts.

According to Time magazine’s, Newt probably only actually had about 106,055 real followers out of the reported 1.3 million.
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According to Gawker, Mr. Gingrich hired a company that finds followers for Twitter users, and apparently the company he hired to increase traffic had optimized his Twitter numbers via newfangled marketing and purchased, fake accounts.

The August 19 New York Times featured another great article, this one by David Streitfeld about the incline in fake, paid reviews online.

As online retailers become ever more reliant on reviews, it seems that a whole underground industry has been born to help create positive reviews. The article interviews professional writers that are paid to generate the types of 5-star reviews that retailers need, some getting paid between $5-$10 per review.

Cornell University has even set up a research center to study fake reviews online. “The whole system falls apart if made up reviews are given the same weight as honest ones,” says Myle Ott. The university is experimenting with a proposed algorithm that is successful at sorting the fake ones from the real reviews — at least 90 percent of the time.

Adding to the increase in fake reviews are loyalty programs that are offered by companies like TripAdvisor. Some of Amazon’s top reviewers stated in research that they were encouraged to write positive reviews in exchange for premium give-aways like free books, etc.

In recent years, the Word of Mouth Marketing Association has grown rapidly and even has a guide to ethics, and an ethical assessment product on their website, to assist companies considering their social media strategies.

This entry was posted on Monday, August 22nd, 2011 at 12:53 pm and is filed under Business, Marketing, Media, Social Media. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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IridiumGroup Inc.

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