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They're Out There... Posting

A post made by Jerry "Tycho" Holkins on Penny Arcade a few days ago contained an email from someone entitled called "Mr Smith," who had declined an offer with a "guerrilla marketing business." Had he accepted, his job would have been to create dozens or hundreds of accounts on forums across the internet for the purpose of sowing positive press about whatever product the company happens to be marketing--which could include, of course, video games. I'm sure many of us have seen that kind of behavior on forums before, those painfully obvious guys who appear out of nowhere with an account created yesterday, saying something like "Hey, guys, as you know I love video games, and I bet you do too! Well, Blood Dude Destroyer IV is the hot game around these days! It has all the best features and graphics! Anyway, see ya!"

While this behavior is usually frowned upon by forum administrators, it tends to be somewhat less than convincing. However, Tycho followed up yesterday with more information from somebody who seems to have a lot more in-depth knowledge of how some of these guerrilla marketers actually work. The methods he describes are far more complex than the simple "extremegamer953" technique.

Their technique is quite insidious. Let's say they were hired to pump up PA (not like you need the buzz, but whatever...). Using one of the hundreds of shill accounts they have across the net, they post a new thread that says something like "hey guys, I've been looking for some new web comics to read. Anybody have any recommendations?" This is non-threatening, and gets the community engaged. They then wait a couple days and post again, this time with "Well, I asked some friends and they suggested I check out Penny Arcade . I thought it was pretty funny, although I didn't like all the cuss words. What do you guys think?" Again, seeking engagement, they now have stealthily inserted the client's link, thereby encouraging trial. It's all very measurable and very effective. You should see the monthly reports you get from these guys: everything is detailed.

Given the level of long-term planning and maintenance in use there, one wonders whether the more straightforward shills are deliberately planted simply to alleviate suspicion from the more effective ones, by adjusting readers' expectations of how such marketing works. The case quoted above describes forum behavior that in general is perfectly benign. It would be interesting to know how many of these firms exist, and how frequently their services are employed. It seems that they are by no means limited to gaming.

From The Chatty
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    February 2, 2006 11:30 AM

    I'm looking to post on a forum, something about awful things. Do you guys know of any?

    Also I'm not opposed to paying $10 for an account.

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      February 2, 2006 11:33 AM


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        February 2, 2006 11:34 AM

        To many cuss words for me .........

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        February 2, 2006 12:43 PM

        my favorite coworker sent me an ebaum link the other day and i turned around and said "i can't look at that. ebaum is evil." and he stared at me blankly.

        i HATE going back into a world where people just don't understand simple internet politics. i came across very strange trying to explain why ebaum blows.

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      February 2, 2006 11:36 AM

      oh yeah because if they are paying people full time salaries a 10$ reg fee will stop them in their tracks

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      February 2, 2006 11:46 AM

      Hey lowtax, get a mercury account you cheap bastard :P \

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        February 2, 2006 11:48 AM

        oh please like whoever that guy is supports paid services

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      February 2, 2006 11:50 AM

      hey ! (swooping in) have you heard of something aweful ? might be your thing :D


      that shit makes me paranoid and now i only see plants everywhere.

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      February 2, 2006 12:49 PM

      I am looking for a site with monster truck reviews and perhaps some prescription medications, can you help me

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      February 2, 2006 1:27 PM

      I'm glad you asked! I know of just the place for you. My frat brothers turned me on to this really hip place. It's like blogging to the extreme, like a podcast only way cooler! It's $10 to register, but it's for a LIFETIME membership and you can say pretty much anything you want! They have seperate forums for games, guns, cars, music, movies anything! The avatars (like personal smiley faces :) ) are way cool too.

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      February 2, 2006 3:02 PM

      Hi, I'm posting on this historical and/or funny thread.

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        February 3, 2006 4:08 AM

        I hate to ruin the on going joke but I have to say great stuff. Only thing that could top this post is a K-Per reply.

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