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.