Astroturfing occurs wherever products or services are sold or reviewed. Business owners often report being targeted by astroturfers in forums or on Amazon, Yelp, Twitter and other social media websites. Astroturfing alone is bad, but astroturfing and libel combined can devastate an otherwise healthy business.
In-house or outsourced marketing teams get away with astroturfing because it is very easy to set up an account anonymously and start doing damage. In fact, astroturfing is a cottage industry now. Black hat marketing companies own and manage forums to control consumer opinion while withholding who the site’s real sponsors are. Such conflicts of interest are on the rise as thousands of eager professional astroturfers also discretely advertise on websites such as Fivver.com, Elance.com and Odesk.com (to name a few).
Look for the following signs that a negative astroturfing campaign has begun against your business or product:
- A product or service flaw myth starts popping up in the same forum.
- Reviewers and commenters begin to propagate the myth in online reviews.
- You have reason to believe the activity is sponsored by a competitor or a disgruntled individual.
- Comments and reviews contain attacks and insults rather than depictions of real experiences.
- You discover the same damaging false statements of fact are made on one or more websites.
- Doctored images or videos appear online to substantiate and add legitimacy to false statements.
- You’ve tried to contact the website where the defamatory material is posted and get no reply.
If this is happening to you, please tell us your story. You may not be the only person targeted by this individual or online marketing company. We want to know where this is happening, the usernames involved, and the approach that’s being taken. Once we have enough evidence gathered on a single astroturfer, or a team of them, or we’ll join you in approaching the appropriate authorities and websites with the information we’ve gathered so as to effect meaningful change and stop the astroturfing activity by way of user bans and government intervention when possible.
Libel Report supports you in your fight against this problem. Request a case evaluation to gain insight on the astroturfing counter strategies used by others in your position and gather experienced team members who will work to uncover the most appropriate way to defend your business, product, or service along with your Google page 1 search results from astroturfers.