Smartphone maker, Xiaomi, alleged that more than 900 bots and fake twitter accounts discredited the company’s new Redmi K20 phone, claiming that it was too costly. According to Xiaomi’s India-based marketing head, Anuj Sharma, 137 accounts had tweeted #overpriced more than 100 times a day.
Sharma said Xiaomi handed the matter over to its legal team but has not revealed who was behind the campaign. Additionally, the company says it has created tools to filter out fraudulent feedback and profiles on social media so that it can take action against them.
These incidents are similar to one that occurred with an e-commerce marketplace, which used its network of digital influencers to battle tweets on the alleged violation of foreign direct investment (FDI) norms. The system worked and ensured discrediting comments no longer trended on twitter.
However, companies are not just facing online trolls but are then forced to budget for them — carefully monitoring opponents and negative feedback online. For example, several large consumer electronics multi-national companies are using tech bloggers and reviewers to gauge feedback and ensure certain comments are posted whereas others are not.
Most businesses now track online comments in real-time to identify potential concerns early on, but learning who’s behind the activity is mostly guesswork. Unfortunately, digital influencers, merchandise reviewers, and fake accounts mean several brands are paying top dollar for campaigns to disparage the competition.
“Several big names are using digital media and spending huge money to create negative reports of rivals. All affordable brands get hit by these,” explained Avneet Singh Marwah, chief executive of the electronics manufacturer, Super Plastronics (and retailer of Kodak and Thomson). “It’s challenging to control them.”
Indian consumer electronics company, BPL, encountered this when it found a negative comment on its stock was deemed “useful” by 400 users.
“While it’s unfair, only deep-pocketed brands can afford to do this or challenge it with their army of digital influencers,” said Manmohan Ganesh, COO with BPL India.
Disparaging comments about products or companies are common in the electronics industry. What makes them particularly concerning, according to research by community platform LocalCircles, is that most customers rely on product reviews for purchases.