As with those ratings on Amazon, we're now seeing savvy marketers attempt to manipulate social media for the same purposes. Signs and shortcuts that we might have once trusted - such as a referral from a friend - we're now not as sure we can trust. Three examples of these are LaunchRock, Like-gating and Web-advertorials.
- LaunchRock is a pyramid scheme for driving traffic to a website. You can only get access to a hidden beta of 'some cool new thing' by referring three of your friends. This is before you yourself know what you are referring your friends to!
- Like-gating is a strategy brands, such as The New Yorker, are using on Facebook. If you Like a page, you are given access to fan-only only content and goodies. In essence, your approval of a brand to your friends is exchanged for personal rewards. There was once a time when the ethics around this would have been questionable. Not any more.
- Web-advertorials, such as this one, are websites that look like real news sites, and pose themselves in a way that make the viewer think it is an authentic and impartial site. They even have fake comments seconding the article's supposed real experiment.
In a world in which manipulation is becoming the norm, it will be interesting to see how social norms in the online world adapt to account for these.