Has Nokia bee n a victim of brand sabotage or agency heavy-handedness? Because something is very amiss in the way it is conducting its social media / SEO strategy.

Blogstorm's Patrick Altoft reported some unusual activity from Nokia on his blog yesterday.

In summary, three comments were made on his blog from the same IP address. All the comments were under different names but two had the same email address. And all were promoting http://shop.nokia.co.uk.

Patrick investigated and highlights some other comments found on other blogs/forums/review sites promoting the Nokia Shop, including some from the same user who commented on his blog. One of the posters also links to UKTV on a couple of other websites.

There are some possible scenarios:

1.       Genuine customer advocacy?

Nokia make great phones. They have successfully used PR and social media to build a loyal bunch of genuine fans and advocates who love to share their views about the products/service and news. It might just be that they have customer advocates with SEO linkbuilding skills posting on blogs, forums and review sites. 

2.       An over-zealous SEO PR/linkbuilding campaign?

It could be a third party agency, on the existing roster or trying to pitch for Nokia’s business, has forgotten some golden rules of social media engagement. As well as potentially harming Nokia’s good reputation, it’s a very risky strategy – falsely representing a consumer in social media is not only un-ethical but illegal under the 2008 UK Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations

3.       Sabotage?

A third party has left the comments on Patrick’s blog. They have targeted him with heavy handed linkbuilding posts to try to sully Nokia’s reputation knowing that he would probably blog about it. They know that his ‘network’ includes a number of experts who would echo his thoughts……the ‘influence network’ in action. If this is the case then it’s time to put a stop on this practice. It is damaging the reputation of digital marketers. If you can’t achieve your marketing communication objectives ethically, then there is something fundamentally wrong with the business model/product/service that you are promoting.

So which is it? We think they're busted, but you can decide for yourself.

Like Patrick, we continue to see ‘stealth' linkbuilding activity on E-consultancy and comments responding to criticism of brands from ‘advocates’. When we track the IP addresses, we often find they lead to agencies. It's pretty lame.

Many times links in comments don't actually provide any linkjuice, depending on how the comments system has been configured. So it can be pretty pointless too, from a search marketing perspective.

I’ve also been involved in campaigns where competitors have tried to post misleading comments and sabotage social media activity. It’s not pretty and must surely distract from the business of successfully building their own advocates and promoting their brand.

We see a value in genuine and useful links on our website, which is why we exercise a pretty lenient link policy and why we build ethical links ourselves. Building advocates, online pr and best practice linkbuilding should be a part of every digital marketers armoury. Competitor sabotage and false aliases should not.

If you or your agencies are still spam commenting, Astroturfing and stealth linkbuilding, perhaps it’s time to skill up….?

To check your current strategy and to develop best practice techniques in SEO PR, Reputation Management and Online PR come and talk to us about our public and in-company training courses.

Michelle Goodall

Published 21 October, 2008 by Michelle Goodall

Michelle Goodall is an Online PR and Social Media Consultant at Econsultancy. Follow her on Twitter or connect via Linkedin.

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Comments (7)

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Nick Jones

Nick Jones, Managing Director at I Spy Marketing


I want to clear this up very quickly as we are the "over-zealous" agency in question here. This activity has been conducted by I Spy Search not by Nokia itself. As such we take full responsibility for these posts.

We fully accept that this particular tactic is not best practice through social media and we have put an immediate stop to this activity. We acknowledge that clearly we have not monitored internal activity to our usual standard. I spoke to Patrick Altoftn the blog owner personally this morning to acknoweledge this and to apologise for these posts.

We have informed all agency staff that this practice should not be engaged in and have put measures in place internally to safeguard against a repeat of this situation. We take fully responsibility for this as an agency and apologise for any misuse of these blogs.


I Spy Search

almost 10 years ago

Michelle Goodall

Michelle Goodall, Independent Social Media, Digital Transformation and Communications Consultant - MCIPR at EconsultancySmall Business Multi-user

Thanks for clarifying things Nick.

almost 10 years ago



Good of you to own up Nick. It does make me wonder what kind of staff could ever think this kind of thing a good way of marketing though. Certainly doesn't suggest they know much about the business.

almost 10 years ago


LEON Bailey Green

Good one Nick for holding your hands up.

I'm sure this practice isn't limited to your agency. It's time for the whole SEO industry to grow up and embrace real online PR into link building strategies.

Clients also need to realise that to build links they need to take risks with content on their website to act as link bait.

almost 10 years ago



Its a bit sad innit, getting so worked up about a few misplaced links. Three whole comments? Strewth, does the poor laddie whose blog was sullied have any server space left?

In terms of evil things happening, it is pretty low down the list. Although of course to self-righteous web 2.0 blogmeisters it is like spitting on their mother and raping their finest goat.

I'd agree though that I Spy Search must employ some real dummies if the best fake names they can come up are lukesmith8888 and mandy87...

And like whatever, cause I am sooo over-excited yeah, but, no, but... LOL!

I mean "LOL"... FFS.

almost 10 years ago


Nathan McDonald

Good work by Nick to get on top of this (within the hour!). Mistakes do happen, after all the reason it is called 'social' media is that there are humans involved.

However in this case it seems like a lack of social media sensibility. I think the conversation about "The Inconsistent Agency" over at PR Squared may be of relevance:

"The Inconsistent Agency is neither evil nor ignorant but has yet to make an agencywide commitment to understanding the new rules of marketing. The resulting knowledge gaps could unwittingly derail a client’s PR program."


In this case it seems more like SEO derailing the efforts of PR and marketing?

almost 10 years ago


akıllı ev imalatı


over 7 years ago

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