Don’t Be Seduced by the Lure of Astroturfing

whenever you engage the Internet on behalf if a company or organization, you are acting as a brand ambassador. If someone is curious as to who you are and why you’re so passionate about an event, product, or service, the understanding is that they will pretty easily be able to find out that you’re a marketing professional.

For some, that is enough. Legally-speaking, it is enough. In terms of building a long-term relationship with your current, future, or present customers, hiding your identity as a professional marketer in the folds of your online profile may be considered deceitful.

You may be attracted to covert online marketing: special ops, black ops, spycraft – “fifth column marketing,” if you will. Don’t be.

The blowback that can result from using a false name, a false email (a Yahoo, Google, or Hotmail address created for the campaign and the false name), and a false bio, isn’t worth it.

There is a term for shooting for the short term by being opaque in your intent, no matter how effective it may be: astroturfing, which “describes formal public relations campaigns which seek to create the impression of being a spontaneous, grassroots behavior.”

Accusations of astroturfing can compromise the integrity of the organization you are representing, and further put your ability to communicate future messages in danger.

Over the short term, pretending to be just another denizen of an online community or a blog works if you can pull it off. It isn’t tough to sneak in and talk, talk, talk.

Even though your reputation online is more defined by your contributions to the conversations rather than who you are, the culture of the Internet doesn’t suffer being fooled, duped, or suckered.

If you are ever found out, you are screwed.