Avast! Here Be Social Media Pirates

Using Competitor Fan Pages to Conquest Audiences

By Published on .

Craig Daitch
Craig Daitch
Last month I was sitting in front of my computer helping pull together an analytics report for a former client's social media campaign. While we reported on more traditional analytics, we also provided insight into engagement metrics and, as such, I was curious to see not only the lift in Facebook Fan Page traffic, but volume and tone of conversations pertaining to our campaign as well.

Little did I know what was waiting for me on my monitor.

"Oh wow..."

I repeated "Oh wow" five times before calling my colleagues to inform them of what was staring back at me. Prominently displayed in the midst of Wall comments promoting our campaign were a number of conquest-themed messages referencing a direct competitor's black Friday campaign.

The conquest message itself was inoffensive and sterile. It wasn't personal. It was very homogenized and bot-like, and avoided negatively critiquing my client. Yet it was obvious it didn't belong.

Who's to say it doesn't belong? Well starting this year, the FTC for one. Promoting social media campaigns can no longer be done in a shroud of anonymity. The FTC is requiring transparency in its revised advertising guidelines.

If you have a business relationship with a brand, you must disclose that relationship if endorsing them via social media, or else face serious consequences. With affiliates running amok in online communities, getting them to adhere to this new mandate will be tough. It's going to take a serious penalty to curb the behavior of affiliate marketers.

Not to accuse the key players in this blog post of being affiliated with my client's competitor, or point a finger; I'd like to give all parties the benefit of the doubt that this is not an activity a brand would endorse. Do unto others as you would have others do to you is the adage I like to preach in relation to social media.

My former client's fans, however, took a much more personal reaction to the controversial competitive messaging and defended the brand with vigor, ultimately driving away (and ignoring) the conquest messages.

Community managers should be aware of what took place a month ago and be prepared to address it.

Assessing The Damage

Have conquesting comments pushed real conversation between your fans off your page? Are they spiteful or negative in tone pertaining to your company? If so, you need to take action. Try one of these tactics.

  • Engage the commenter
  • Ignore the comment; allow your community to address it
  • Delete the comment
In my opinion, deleting comments is a last resort and something I've typically avoided (successfully) by relying on the strength of my community. However, I don't consider what I experienced here an anomaly. Trolls and spammers are evolving to the point where it's sometimes difficult to distinguish a real person from a bot. We all must raise awareness of these controversial tactics and admonish them quickly.

Social media is built on trust between brands and their consumers. With open communities, it is easy to exploit vulnerabilities. Remaining educated and staying active in your community on platforms such as Facebook will result in a better managed experience for both you and your audience.

Craig Daitch currently leads the Activation team at Converseon as its Senior Vice President, manages his own pop culture social bookmarking site, Hipstr, and tweets regularly at @cdny.
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