Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Tipping The Social Media Scales Is VERY Easy

Have you ever watched one of the morning news shows where they have a segment named "Trending on Twitter" or something similar?  I checked one day to see what in fact was trending on Twitter and not surprisingly, their trending list was fake. It was a list of topics they fabricated so they could feature them for whatever their reasoning was.

Not a good thing but not dangerous.  Or is it dangerous?

It got me thinking about timeshare related posts on Twitter and how many times I read that positive or neutral timeshare mentions far outweigh negative mentions. So I did several month long studies of timeshare mentions on Twitter. And yes, neutral mentions far outweighed negative ones.

But with just a little digging, I found some red flags. 

*  A full 48% of the mentions were ads for timeshare properties on the secondary market.
*  24% were ads for mini vacs linked to sales presentations.
*  10% were for industry news. 
*  9% were total gibberish including non existent or broken links. 
*  3% were positive comments.
*  The remaining 6% were slightly/overtly negative or complaints 

I suppose that ads for timeshare properties on the secondary market and ads for mini vacs linked to timeshare sales presentations can be considered neutral.  As can legitimate timeshare industry news. I'm clearly NOT knocking timeshare news being posted to Twitter.  Industry news definitely needs to be shared.  I do it whenever I deem it necessary.

Looking more closely at the ads, a clear pattern emerged. The same handful of Twitter accounts were blasting ads for mini vans. And another handful were blasting ads for timeshare properties on the secondary market.
The mini vac ads were clearly placed be what I call Twitter bots. Multiple Twitter accounts posting the exact same message. Over and over again.  Most were poorly written and contained so many grammatical errors, I doubt anyone would actually book a mini-vac through them.
Only a small percentage of the timeshare for sale ads/tweets came from well known-legitimate timeshare resellers.  The good guys as I call them.  The vast majority of them were not.  These companies are not well known, use misleading photographs in their tweets (any timeshare for sale in Orlando is accompanied by a photo of something at the Walt Disney World Resort for instance) and have an astronomical tweet to follower ratio. And these ads seemed to be similar to the mini vac Twitter bots.

For a terrific and insightful article about "Twitter-bots" read this from Fast Company: 

It's evidently quite easy to control what's trending or showing up on Twitter or any other social media channel. We should be asking who or what is behind all these Twitter bots and what their purpose really is.



  1. It's actually easier than you think. You just hire someone in India or China for $5 to do it for you, they spam the hell out of everyone for $5.

  2. I have no doubt it's a very easy and very cheap (and I use that word carefully and deliberately) thing to do.

    It's wrong though.