About the ethics of social media
I read a great article this morning about a big FMGC brand from France named Orangina (equivalent of Fanta) that created fake fans profile on Facebook to create fake interactions on its Facebook fan page. What is that practice in 2012? This is really unethical and really shocking to me. Especially when I read the tweets from the agency dude who’s behind it because he is actually proud of it!
“@kikukoloko On se croirait dans le cyclisme quand ceux pas encore pris la seringue dans l’orteil feintent l’angélisme. Nice job #orangina ;)“
I thought we should all learn from it, and this is why I translated the post so it doesn’t stay in France, the global community can now read it, share it and comment it.
At the end of the day, we (digital experts) have to raise our voices against those practices that will prevent other brands from creating faithful connections with their fans. Because they will create frustrations and doubt in consumers.
The attitude of Gontran Paillez, the guy who is behind this, reminds me of the famous Kit Kat story where a stubborn social media manager damaged the brand globally in a couple of days because he was neglecting fans and comments from the community.
I can hardly believe agencies are still thinking advertising should be made through lies, like in the 1990s, this is quite disappointing from Fred&Farid. A strategy that probably reveals their vision of the digital world and lack of understanding of what social media is about.
Just as you do, I believe in digital communications and I want to make the world of advertising a better place. I believe in building connections with people around truth, transparency and real values.
Please circulate among your peers, sparkle conversations and ensure the ethics are known and respected.
My humble translation:
Edit: we just got contacted by Orangina, they are not aware of those actions and they are against it. They are trying to understand what happened and will get back to us as soon as they will have more clarity on the situation
In the text below, we are are using the word “fool” but we should actually say “lie” because even if this is a strong statement, at the end of the day, those guys are trying to get you believe something that doesn’t exist. Which is a lie.
What it looks like
If we look at the Orangina facebook page everything seems to be OK. With almost 300.000 fans, ongoing posts, comments and shared messages etc.
Looking closer at the community of fans interacting with the brand posts, we start seeing that the active fans are frequently the same. Looking again we can see that they are actually the same exact fans who like/comment/share.
Because there is always the but you don’t like, you end up asking yourself “who are those people coming back to the page every single time to engage with the brand updates?”
So we stalked them, yes we did and we are not ashamed of saying so. We visited their profile to see who they were in our attempt to understand where this unconditional love for an orange beverage was coming from.
And… how surprising!
We found two different types of profiles:
1- users with almost no friends, who liked a very little number of pages and users who were only doing one thing on facebook: commenting Orangina France status updates
2- weird fan pages that were only sharing Orangina France status updates even if they had almost no fans.
So we won’t quote everybody here, but it seems that there are many others.
The conclusion is quite obvious: most of those users and pages are certainly fake ones, created only to raise the interaction/engagement rate with the brand.
An example that speaks for itself
Take for example the most famous status update that has ever been posted on the Orangina page, on red hair people. Remember, this post already started a controversy as it was talking down at red hair. You can see screen grabs of this status below. To make it easier for you to read, we removed comments saying “this doesn’t make sense” and “you should be ashamed of insulting red hair” and we highlighted in red the comments for the profile we believe are fake.
Here is what we got:
It seems pretty obvious. Those pricks really look like they are using a couple of accounts to imitate consumer behaviors and actually discretly plead for their own cause. If you still doubt it, look at the profile yourself, you will find it obvious too. You can also note that the language is quite similar from one profile to another and they also work in close circuit: they like each other, share between each other…
The brand is cheating on her facebook fans: she is pretending that fans are talking to each other when they are actually talking to fake account. She is pretending that she cares for their comments and points of views but this is only an illusion. Instead, it prevents people from sharing views. No, no, no they must say what we want to hear only, they must say they love the brand and this is it, if they don’t like it it’s because they didn’t understand it. So let’s use fake profiles to insult them and force them thinking what we think is right.
Those fake pages are not only used for that reason. If a question on the fan page isn’t answered on time or doesn’t get enough comments? Well, let’s use the fake accounts to start it. We are missing likes on a status? Let’s do the same thing. And of course, the more sharing you get on facebook the better the stats are on your page, which is always good in the report.
It seems that Orangina is stuck to the traditional advertising era: “here is what I have to say, don’t say anything, just listen and like what we say and buy the product. Even if this means we aren’t ethical anymore.”
About ethics, we raised that flag recently about the decrease of ethical behaviours online. Thanks Orangina for illustrating our point so perfectly. Apparently, the brand really doesn’t get the potential of social media. Instead of playing by the rules, by being transparent, engaging and listening to her fans, she prefers making fun of them. She does so by using fake accounts as soon as a critic appears, avoiding the conversation to truly happen.
By cheating the conversations happening on the facebook page, Orangina has decided to ignore the core principles of social media. They have decided to not behave like brands are expected to act in social media, with honesty and sincerity.
No need to say we find this really lame.