from the why-not-just-compete? dept
At some point companies and organizations are going to have to learn that astroturfing is going to accomplish absolutely nothing positive and almost certainly a whole lot of negative. The practice of faking support through BS internet comments is every bit as petty and stupid as it sounds, resulting in these folks either looking really silly or downright hypocritical. That said, it’s one thing to astroturf for what typically amounts to a crappy cause, but it’s quite another level of dumb when you do it to try to influence consumer behavior purely as a business practice.
For instance, take Samsung, which has been the king of the mobile phone market for the past few years. It’s now been fined by Taiwan’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC) for splashing fake comments all over the internet demeaning HTC phones while favoring its own.
In a notice on its website, the consumer protection body said that Samsung had organized an Internet campaign in violation of fair trade rules to praise Samsung smartphones while slamming those of HTC. The FTC set Samsung’s fine at New Taiwan dollars 10 million ($340,000). It also leveled smaller fines on two Taiwanese trading companies it said were responsible for mounting the Internet campaign.
It should be noted that this isn’t the first time Samsung has been fined for misleading behavior, having faced FTC sanctions mere months ago over the way they mislead consumers about some of the camera functions on their phones. Now, $340k may not seem like that big a deal, and it probably isn’t, but you and any potential Samsung partners should be looking at this as a symptom, not the disease.
Even as Samsung has been leading the market lately, this sends a clear message to anyone paying attention that Samsung doesn’t think it can actually compete fairly in the marketplace. The company apparently believes they’re best bet is to generate positive outlook on their phones by faking grassroot support as opposed to actually earning it. That’s a problem in and of itself, but add to it a drop in confidence and favorability now that the astroturfing campaign has been exposed and the corporate-meltdown pump has been primed. Samsung may want to remind itself of the fate of Nokia — another company that was once at the top of the heap in mobile phones, before it became complacent on innovation and learned how quickly a market can move in a different direction.