We come across people trying to sell us various things. Since every organization survives on its goods being sold, marketing and sales become very important parts of an organization. As sales become important for survival, it also poses a moral hazard. The hazard is of people trying to sell the products at any cost. Here in the dark part of marketing too comes into picture. This article is my attempt at focusing on dark part of social media marketing I encountered recently.
As the social media is ubiquitous, a marketer would be tempted bring brand awareness about client by posing in as a normal customer asking questions just to find loophole to slip in his product recommendation. I call this as guerrilla selling(term coined by me) because It uses trust posed by fellow members on the marketer. This mild cheating tactic of social media marketing is used to build awareness and is not for getting a conversion.
Marketing: What it is?
3 Things are important in measuring effectiveness of Marketing campaigns. They are reach, engagement and conversion. So a company based on its campaign goals tries to maximize one of the above 3 things. If a company wants awareness to be built it will focus on maximizing reach and engagement. If sales is important then conversion process is made smooth, and reach and engagement are made to feed into conversion. So in totality its the campaign goal that defines even the medium for campaign and what needs to be done.
After the goal is set, the medium comes into play. It can take the form of Social Media Marketing Campaigns, or Search Engine Marketing Campaigns, Display Advertising Campaign etc..All these campaigns have different characteristics making them suitable for different goals. Guerrilla Selling is dark part of social media marketing campaign.
(See Also: What is guerrilla marketing – wikipedia.)
Bad Social Media Marketing:
The guerrilla selling is part of unethical practices of marketing. This tactic leverages the trust placed on members to misuse them for promotions. For example, Deliberately asking questions on ULIPs in personal finance groups when intention is to bring awareness about the product.
Leveraging the Trust Dynamics
In social media groups formed with particular themes, there will be a captive audience receptive to particular message. In case of personal finance groups it will be receptive to financial products. The marketer deliberately asks questions so as elicit views from the members about the particular problem. Once views starts pouring in, the marketer will go though it engaging the members and slowly planting the seeds of message he needs to put.
Since the members when sharing the view consider other person as another member and give honest reccos. Whereas marketer in member clothing is more interested planting seeds of his message. This leads to conflict of interest as the marketer is expected to be unbiased.
The bright side:
Since marketer is posing in member clothing, if he is not caught out he will be able bring awareness about the product at much cheaper costs compared to costly advertising practices. Also due to involvement of members it leads to increased engagement. This marketing mechanism treads the path of unethical behavior hence keeping the cover intact is important. The intact cover also helps in increasing the reach as members may view message at later point of time.
The idea of planting message without cover being blown is very old tactic and also reason behind growth of religions around the world. The major shield for the victim will be his own awareness about the thing. With Internet being wide and big, its better to increase the awareness constantly with the help of it. Its also better to build pipeline to feed oneself with conflict of interest free knowledge to guard against newer threats.
The next line of defense to protect him will be in the company of real “conflict of interest” free experts. The experts will guard the person from smaller ignorances he might be harboring. So as a human, our best advise is to spend in th “society” of experts. If a marketer does DNS Poisoning kind of moves in social media, this society of experts will call the bluff quickly to thwart the attack.
Hope you enjoyed the article. Stay safe by investing in your own awareness.