EaseMyTrip and Meesho have been targets of negative tweets by multiple fake accounts. How do these campaigns affect brands?
Online travel aggregator EaseMyTrip is the latest brand on the hit list of fake Twitter accounts that were seen promoting a competitor platform.
In a statement, EaseMyTrip said, "We are shocked by these tweets. Although this is, undoubtedly, disappointing, we will direct our energies on the company's expansion and vision in order to change the tourism industry. But like any other respectable and proud company, we would certainly like to speak out against such despicable acts. We should use social media's ability to change things for the better…"
Earlier this month, e-commerce platform Meesho was also targeted by a manipulated social media campaign. As per a media report, Meesho sent legal notices to some social media influencers and the agency involved for running the smear campaign against it.
Speaking about the impact of such campaigns, Amit Relan, director and co-founder, mFilterIt (an ad fraud detection and prevention platform), mentions that negative SEOs and comments on social media that are driven by competition, may cause a fall in the ratings of the targeted brand.
“Such campaigns impact not just the brands, but also the consumers, as it becomes challenging for users to differentiate between fake bot posts and the genuine reviews," Relan adds.
Viraj Sheth, co-founder and CEO of Monk Entertainment, adds that the intent of these social media campaigns, is to openly hate on rivals and, for some reason, create maliciousness about the competitors. “These campaigns are completely pointless. I would never advise anyone to carry out a hit job against a particular company.”
The rise in the number of such malicious social media campaigns, poses a question on the authenticity and credibility of the reviews of influencers.
Ramya Ramachandran, CEO & founder, Whoppl (an influencer content and commerce agency), says that it is extremely sad to see a competitor brand leverage the power of influencer marketing and misuse it by undertaking a campaign that does not seem ethical.
However, she feels that the exact reason for such a campaign may not be known, unless the brand in question investigates the matter.
According to Ishan Jindal, founder and CEO, Wobb (an influencer marketing platform), with great dependence on social media, brands also need to be more vigilant on these platforms so that they can see what is happening and take action accordingly.
“Instead of depending on a higher authority to take action against such a campaign, it is also important for brands to step up and take action themselves,” says Jindal.
The first step, in case a brand is targeted by fake accounts on social media, is to have a legal scan. This way the consumers will be aware about the authenticity of the comments. Brands also need to communicate to the consumers that they are not involved with the influencers or users who post negative reviews.
In Meesho’s case, it was noticed that its users came out in its support and spoke on its behalf. “However, this will only happen if the brand has been able to nurture the community of its users throughout its journey,” states Ramachandran.
Scope for stricter regulations and guidelines
The Advertising Standards Council of India’s influencer marketing guidelines, have helped in streamlining paid promotions and influencer-led campaigns on social media. But the above incidents also imply that there needs to be more stringent regulations that will help to keep such targeted malicious influencer marketing campaigns at bay.
"The influencers who voluntarily participate in these campaigns, the influencer marketing firms that accept payment for these campaigns, the client who pays for them and everyone involved in this, are acting out of pure greed and malice."Viraj Sheth
Sheth believes that regulations need to be implemented in the influencer marketing sector. “I would strongly vote against having campaigns like these put up. The influencers who voluntarily participate in these campaigns, the influencer marketing firms that accept payment for these campaigns, the client who pays for them and everyone involved in this, are acting out of pure greed and malice,” he adds.
Awareness is the key for consumers
While ASCI and other government body guidelines can help in regulating influencer marketing landscape in the country, at an individual level, social media users need to follow caution, while trusting online content.
"Instead of following the herd mentality, social media users have to be very aware and research more before trusting any piece of information."Ramya Ramachandran
“Instead of following the herd mentality, social media users have to be very aware and research more before trusting any piece of information and, accordingly, take a call about how genuine a post or comment is,” says Ramachandran.
An easy way to distinguish between a fake and real social media profile, is to check its activity, the number of followers and the date on which the account was made. Chances are that most bot accounts are newly made, have few followers and limited account activity.
"If there are too many blatant negative reviews and noise on social media about a particular brand that also seeks to promote a competitor brand, then it implies that the activity is definitely sponsored."Amit Relan
Relan points out that if there are too many blatant negative reviews and noise on social media about a particular brand that also seeks to promote a competitor brand, then it implies that the activity is definitely sponsored.