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Malicious influencer campaigns target brands on social media

EaseMyTrip and Meesho have been the target of negative tweets by several fake accounts. How do these campaigns affect brands?

Online travel aggregator EaseMyTrip is the latest brand on the list of fake Twitter accounts that have been seen promoting a competing platform.

In a statement, EaseMyTrip said, “We are shocked by these tweets. While it is, no doubt, disappointing, we will be directing our energies towards the company’s expansion and vision to change the tourism industry. But like any other respectable and proud company, we would certainly want to speak out against these despicable acts. We should use the power of social media to change things for the better…”

Earlier this month, e-commerce platform Meesho was also targeted by a manipulated social media campaign. According to a media report, Meesho sent legal notices to some social media influencers and the agency involved for leading the smear campaign against her.

Speaking about the impact of such campaigns, Amit Relan, director and co-founder of mFilterIt (an ad fraud detection and prevention platform), mentions that negative listings and social media comments that are motivated by competition can lead to a drop in grades. of the target brand.

“These campaigns impact not only brands, but also consumers, as it becomes difficult for users to tell the difference between fake bot posts and genuine reviews,” adds Relan.

Viraj Sheth, co-founder and CEO of Monk Entertainment, adds that the intention of these social media campaigns is to openly hate the rivals and for some reason create nastiness towards the competitors. “These campaigns are completely unnecessary. I would never advise anyone to do a hit job against any particular company.

The increase in the number of these malicious social media campaigns raises a question about the authenticity and credibility of influencer reviews.

Ramya Ramachandran, CEO and Founder of Whoppl (an influencer content and commerce agency), says it is extremely sad to see a competing brand leveraging and abusing the power of influencer marketing by undertaking a campaign that doesn’t seem ethical.

However, she believes 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 of Wobb (an influencer marketing platform), with a heavy reliance on social media, brands also need to be more vigilant on these platforms so they can see what’s going on and act on it. result.

“Instead of depending on a higher authority to take action against such a campaign, it’s also important for brands to step in and act on their own,” says Jindal.

The first step, in the event that a brand is targeted by fake social media accounts, is to have a forensic scan. This way, consumers will be aware of the authenticity of the reviews. Brands should also communicate to consumers that they are not involved with influencers or users who post negative reviews.

In the case of Meesho, it has been noticed that its users have spoken out in favor of it and spoken on its behalf. “However, this will only happen if the brand has nurtured its user community throughout its journey,” says Ramachandran.

Possibility of stricter regulations and guidelines

The Advertising Standards Council of India’s influencer marketing guidelines have helped streamline paid promotions and influencer-led campaigns on social media. But the above incidents also imply that there must be stricter regulations that will help keep these targeted malicious influencer marketing campaigns at bay.

Sheth believes that regulations need to be implemented in the influencer marketing industry. “I would strongly vote against setting up campaigns like these. The influencers who voluntarily participate in these campaigns, the influencer marketing companies who accept payment for these campaigns, the customer who pays them, and everyone involved, are acting out of sheer greed and malice,” he adds.

Awareness is key for consumers

While ASCI and other guidelines from government bodies can help regulate the influencer marketing landscape in the country, on an individual level, social media users should exercise caution, while trusting the content. on line.

“Instead of following the herd mentality, social media users need to be very aware and research more before trusting any information and therefore taking a call on the authenticity of a post or comment. “, explains Ramachandran.

An easy way to distinguish between a fake and a real social media profile is to check its activity, number of followers and when the account was created. Chances are that most bot accounts are newly created, have few followers, and limited account activity.

Relan points out that if there’s too much blatant negative review and noise on social media about a particular brand that’s also trying to promote a competing brand, that implies the activity is definitely sponsored.