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Sock puppet marketing

Sock puppet marketing - answered by Matt Cutts

Matt's answer:

CUTTS: So, I was at a search conference about a year ago and I heard what I consider to be some really bad advice. The person essentially said, “You know what? It doesn’t have to be just you out there on the web trying to promote your product. You can sort of invent new personalities.” For example, supposed you’re trying to promote soy candles, right? Well, you can have somebody who, their name was kind of like, Barbara Soy Candle and you add in a back story for Barbara so that she had her own personality. Then you can have a friend who would go in and talk to Barbara and they’d talk about who the best soy candle makers are and stuff like that. The problem with that is that if people don’t know that it’s multiple personalities talking then it’s almost like AstroTurf. AstroTurf is fake grassroots, right? So, another name for this is Sock Puppet Marketing. So, if you have a sock puppet, you know, you’re saying, “Oh, who do you like for soy candles?” And the other sock puppet is like, “Oh, I’ve tried this soy candle site and it’s fantastic,” and then the first sock puppet is like, “Oh, I’m so glad you have given me informative help, thank you so much, I will immediately visit that soy candle site.” And it’s not really a real conversation. Now, you might consider that annoying, but what are the consequences of doing sock puppet marketing? Well, one of the consequences became clear to a company which had to pay $300,000 under a recent settlement with the New York Attorney’s General Office, basically, people came in to the office and the people in the company said, “You have to get out there and pretend to be happy satisfied costumers.” So, this particular company ended up paying $300,000, because they were doing essentially fake testimonials. So, my advice is, don’t do Sock Puppet Marketing. Don’t try to do AstroTurfing where it’s like you’re inventing fake personalities to talk to other fake personalities. If something is not good enough to have good by-word-of-mouth, don’t try to push it, you know. Don’t try to invent fake reasons why people have to talk about it. And you’ll see that according to what we’ve been seeing, you know, just in recent events, people do take that seriously, you know. If you’re marketing online, people will take that as seriously as if you’re marketing in all other kinds of media. And so, if you’re doing things that you would feel ashamed of, if your mom or your grandmother knew about, or a competitor knew about, then you might want to reconsider the techniques that you’re using.

by Matt Cutts - Google's Head of Search Quality Team


Original video: