Gartner Inc suggests need for closer monitoring of social networks
As many businesses and organisations strive to become more visible online through social media channels, the question of content legitimacy seems to be getting raised more and more often.
This was one of the queries raised by Gartner Inc in a report published in July, entitled 'The consequences of fake fans, 'likes' and reviews on social networks'. The company continues with this discussion in the lead up to the Gartner Symposium-ITxpo 2012, which will take place in Orlando on October 21-25.
Gartner's analysis shows that the number of paid social media ratings and reviews are on the rise and it says that by 2014 up to 10 to 15 per cent of reviews will be fake.
Gartner senior research analyst Jenny Sussin said: "With over half of the internet's population on social networks, organisations are scrambling for new ways to build bigger follower bases, generate more hits on videos, garner more positive reviews than their competitors and solicit 'likes' on their Facebook pages."
As a result some marketing gurus have decided to pay individuals for positive reviews in the hope it will lead to more visitors to their websites and thus an increase in sales, customer loyalty and advocacy through social media campaigns, Ms Sussin added.
However, some Gartner analysts have reported that brands are likely to be subject to more scrutiny and potential penalties thanks to media attention surrounding the use of bogus reviews and social media ratings.
In 2009, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the States reported that any organisation that paid for fake reviews without stating that the reviewer had received a commission for the work could face a fine and scrutiny.
On top of this, the FTC said that this practice equated to deceptive advertising and stated that companies that took part in it may face prosecution.
"Marketing, customer service, IT social media managers looking to use reviews, fans and 'likes' to improve their brand's reputation on social media must beware if the potential negative consequences on corporate reputation and profitability," Gartner vice-president and analyst Ed Thompson commented.
Overall, this is a timely reminder for all businesses using social networks as part of their social media campaign – that it is important to monitor how legitimate the reviewers or content that your company is using to populate the company's sites.
Posted by Chloe Vaughan