Tea-Turfing 2010

I normally don’t get into national politics on here, but this was so laughably bad it just had to be pointed out.  So without making this about any one particular youth-, tech-, or idea-challenged political party, I’m going to make this a tale of caution to social media marketers everywhere.  When you want to create the illusion of mass support for your cause, you have to put at least several seconds’ worth of effort into the execution.  Otherwise, your propaganda gets lost in the cacophony of Internet laughter.

Take the Twitter users @JessiBelle91, @BecksBecky, and @RedBloodBruce.  They’re just some good ol’ fashioned, hard-workin’, red-blooded Americans with genuine political interests, right?  I’m sure they’d each be outraged — OUTRAGED — if you suggested that they’re shill accounts set up by an ill-informed Republican Internet Strategist.

It’s just that for three people who claim to be from New York City, New York, and Kalamazoo, TN, they sure do seem to have an awful lot of ideas crop up at the exact same times.  And hey, look at this — they’re posting using APIs, too.  I guess using copy / paste via the website is too time-consuming.  You’d have to keep logging in and out over and over, and, I’m sure they have alien conspiracy theories to scurry back to.

The thing is, Twitter is by far the easiest platform on which to fake the appearance of support for your given position or company.  Create an account with a clever-but-relevant name, purchase a few thousand followers, and post away.  Repeat four or five times, throw in a script to bounce your propaganda around via RT, and you’re in business.  Spammers — whoops, I mean “affiliate marketers” — have been doing it for years.

It is almost impossible to screw this up.  And yet, here we are.  So without reflecting on the validity (or lack thereof) of the underlying political astroturfing, this stands as a basic message to all who seek to manipulate the social media crowd:  In order to succeed, you first must try.  Because whoever is responsible for this certainly did not.

Next week, we’ll discuss how lobbyists are applying “new” marketing techniques like concern trolling, link farming, and email.

* – I guess I shouldn’t use the word “fake”.  Just because a parade is well-choreographed doesn’t make it fake.