Friday, October 23, 2009

Troll fodder.

I was absolutely amazed at the social web seminar that I attended yesterday as part of the Vy conference in Tucson. It was the perfect perspective following the experiment with The Chief. A quick review (don't worry not much more about this): Ralph finds profanity ridden website with an entry using our intellectual property (logo). The "restaurant review" was written under alias, by an Internet troll. A troll is someone who posts controversial, inflammatory, irrelevant and/or off-topic messages in an online community, such as a blog, with the primary intent of provoking other users into an emotional response.

The motivation was very clear to a friend and associate of mine, who read the review and notified me. He mentioned that I can draw a connection to me from the writer. It was an inflammatory placement to create a negative social web presence, for reasons that will have to go unsaid for now. The writer has indeed taken down my logo but the review remains. The fallout: A google search now produces my name with the term "Shity Cafe". I expect the writer to pull it down before the connection is made, and I will evaluate the harm done at that time, but what have we learned?

First, he actually had a thing or two to say, so I appreciate that, the commentary was extremely harsh and there were personal attacks and name calling. All behind an alias. Trolling is dangerous work and there is risk of being "outed" if loyalties are compromised. The writer knows this now. But that is not what this is about. I had a good time playing around with the retort section and am thankful, as a writer and advocate to have gotten some energy out of it. This type of fodder is interesting to me.

Yesterdays seminar was on this topic. Social web analytics.

So what happens when you find stuff like this? First, and regardless of the reason, I think it is understood that we need to be able to take criticism, make changes and move on. What resonated loud and clear from the seminar was the it is very important to listen to what people say online, be prepared for the negative and be willing to do something about it. This is important. That said, I also happen to be one who will not be dis-respected when attacked by trolls. This is a litigious society that we are living in, after all. Combined with the fact that I have no problem confronting anyone in a most creative way. In order to pass out a slap or two. But that is not what this is about either.

So social web marketing is really a virtual commercial floating around with customers writing the content. This doesn't mean that trolls can't get to work, they have the space to do their thing on blogs and message boards. Is there content relevant. Yes!

More legitimately, there are methods used daily in retail businesses using rating systems: surveys, polls and reviews garnered from droves of people who use the products, authenticity is derived from the consumers activity and reported online in real time. This type of marketing proves to be unsavory to advertising executives, because it has changed the paradigm. A lot of them missed the mark and stand on the outside looking in. So, any messages floating around, any commentary, survey, anything that is google-able, is google-able, filtered or unfiltered, as a perception of the general public.

Transparency doesn't work. And that is why I went on the rampage with The Chief. Full disclosure in this type of marketing and/or influence is critical to establish a relationship of trust with the customer and or anyone wanting to learn about a product, company, business or whatever. To violate trust is to violate relationship. All other mistakes can be forgiven. The Chief is a troll, and, even though he tried to present himself as a concerned writer and used whatever justification he could muster, the fact that he was an alias and not genuine, nobody would take him seriously and he is now in a position that he does not want to be in. Because I will expose him, just for the hell of it.

So fake reviews, fake blogs, trolling message boards on behalf of the business owner or in strategy against, (competitor, disgruntled employee, wronged cultural perspective) is totally uncool. Many companies have suffered at the hand of poor decision making by tying to fake reviews, surveys etc. I think this is what was most interesting about the seminar. There is discipline and authenticity needed in order to play ball in the social web media.

By the way, who's company has a policy on Social Web behaviour? This is something that came up a couple times. Employees Facebooking about claims, peoples behaviour, intellectual property of the business, get caught and get punished, sued.

What does this all mean?

It means authenticity is key. Do yourself a favor, stand up and slap the trolls. And if you are a troll, consider coming to the other side, where a position in carving out the dynamics of social web media is still open--where you can make a difference is you play by the rules and use your creative process in good use.

I want to thank the Chief and his disciples for the good fodder. I remain, a work in progress, ego intact....ifyouknowhatimtalkinbout.

1 comment:

Jim said...

you're still talking about this? let it go away. you are feeding energy into it and helping it survive.