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Ask Slashdot: My Company Wants Me To Astroturf, Should I?

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the I-love-this-product-whatever-it-is dept.

Businesses 391

An anonymous reader writes "Posting as AC for obvious reasons. The company I work for put an app in an app store. The marketing people think it isn't selling very well, so they sent out an email asking people to get on all their social media sites and friend or like the app to build up traffic. The thing is, most of the employees have not used the app, but we are being asked to say that we like it. We just saw stories about companies not being allowed to ask employees or interview candidates for access to social sites, but what does it mean when a company asks employees to astroturf? Will the marketing or HR people look at who has astroturfed, and who has not at raise time? How would you deal with this?"

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391 comments

Wow... (5, Funny)

grub (11606) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648611)

Things are that bad at RIM and AppWorld, eh?
Look, if Thorsten wants you to astroturf, he should at least offer some examples.

Re:Wow... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39648649)

Fuck off, Ballmer.

Find another job (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39648627)

liars are liars.

Re:Find another job (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39649089)

liars are liars.

only until the go pro by winning an election.

when asked to commit propaganda (5, Funny)

berashith (222128) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648629)

there is only one answer ...
We are building a fighting force of extraordinary magnitude. We forge our tradition in the spirit of our ancestors. You have our gratitude

Re:when asked to commit propaganda (4, Funny)

medcalf (68293) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648693)

Let's all give Dr Krawhn a hand.

Are you loyal? (5, Insightful)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648633)

Putting the obvious moral issues aside, how loyal to this company are you? If the answer is "not very" then I think you already know what you should be doing (i.e, looking for another place of employment). If, however, you are a loyal employee, then suck it up & just do what they ask...finding a place to work that you actually enjoy is tough, especially in this economy.

Re:Are you loyal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39648711)

> .finding a place to work that you actually enjoy is tough, especially in this economy.

LIES!
Perpetuated by THE MAN!

Re:Are you loyal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39649119)

IMHO, it is all about timing. In the jobs market at the moment, there is a lot of unemployment and employers have the upper hand. In short, it's a buyers market. Hold your nerve and wait until the economy picks up i.e. when it is the sellers market then move on. That's my humble advice altough I don't know if this is good but I've had my fingers burnt by too many people who love to mouth off but don't practice what they preach. I'm not saying that the commenter I am replying to is that sort of person, all I am saying is that don't lets morals get in the way of good judgement. As to the moral question of what you are doing, all you need to do is the bare minimum which is to play the game in order to keep your job, which won't be too hard considering the limited intelligence involved in the policy of astroturfing to promote a product. If it fails you won't get blamed, it will be the person who thought of the idea.

To pick up on the morality of this, as to people who are fooled into buying the product because of your activies, there needs to a line drawn if people spend their money on a product and then complain because they haven't fully looked into it.. People have to take responsbility for the decisions they take. I appreciate this sounds black and white but there is only so much you can do.

Re:Are you loyal? (5, Insightful)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648733)

Additionally, you may want to check the app-store-in-question's contractual obligations, as I'm pretty sure stuff like astroturfing is against it. Just point out to whoever's in charge that what you're being asked to do violates their policies and could potentially result in your company's app being pulled off of their app store altogether.

Re:Are you loyal? (5, Insightful)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648939)

Just point out to whoever's in charge that what you're being asked to do violates their policies and could potentially result in your company's app being pulled off of their app store altogether.

That really looks like you are making the threat to report the company to the app store.

Re:Are you loyal? (2)

tiberus (258517) | more than 2 years ago | (#39649131)

Ya, you might want to con somebody else into doing that for you. My assumption would be that they are well aware of the Terms and Conditions and are simply choosing to ignore them. Taking this action, however noble is likely to lead to Moral Option #1 (find a new job) against your will. If your company is large enough to have a legal or ethics department, that is where I would take this but, all the aforementioned risk still applies.

Re:Are you loyal? (1)

TheViffer (128272) | more than 2 years ago | (#39649181)

At the same time you might get pulled off a payroll too ...

Re:Are you loyal? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39648861)

You know, I'd go for the 3rd option. Just don't do it. I'm regularly asked to plug some thing where I work, and I just don't unless I really like whatever it is. I've never been approached as "I saw you didn't post about X". Most of the time, there are so many people in the company that it doesn't matter... If they do ask, it's really none of their business. It's your social networking account, not a company one. I don't see why they should have any jurisdiction over it.

Re:Are you loyal? (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648887)

Putting the obvious moral issues aside, how loyal to this company are you? If the answer is "not very" then I think you already know what you should be doing (i.e, looking for another place of employment). If, however, you are a loyal employee, then suck it up & just do what they ask...finding a place to work that you actually enjoy is tough, especially in this economy.

Plus if they do come to ask about your astroturfing creds (they probably won't give two shits so none of this matters anyway) just tell them you do all of your product commentary as AC (for obvious reasons). And when you use the word obvious be sure to draw out the "O". They will know what you mean.

Re:Are you loyal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39649013)

So, do it or find another job? Rofl...

To the OP:
They won't *know* unless you have your boss or some snitch of a coworker as a friend/connection/platform-specific-"friend"-term-here. Don't do it if you don't want to. Even if your company has a 100,000 employees, 10% of those having 10 friends, or hell even 100, each buying your app won't even be a drop in the bucket unless it's a ridiculously priced app (which, if it is I can bet why no one is buying it!). It's a desperate move on your employers' part. Just let the app die and let them hopefully (probably won't though) learn about building shitty apps.

How about advertising? (2, Insightful)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648637)

Whatever happened to advertising a product? Spend money to make money and all that jazz.

Re:How about advertising? (3, Insightful)

Jakester2K (612607) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648727)

Whatever happened to advertising a product? Spend money to make money and all that jazz.

Costs too much. Just like in-house beta-testing. That's why the idea was born to release purposely-buggy software and let your (ahem) customers pay for the privilege of doing it for you. It's a small step from there to get people to do your shil... er, advertising for you for free.

The 21st century version is "Spend less and make more."

Re:How about advertising? (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648809)

Tolerance has begun to develop among the population. So marketers are looking for new ways into the brain.

Re:How about advertising? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39648883)

Tolerance has begun to develop among the population. So marketers are looking for new ways into the brain.

It's called "noise". We Americans are bombarded by ads and other marketing that we just tune it out. It affects us when it comes to trends - like wanting a smart phone - but individual products get lost. Unless, you have a highly charismatic marketing person like Steve Jobs.

The thing is, most of the employees have not used the app, but we are being asked to say that we like it.

I wonder if this really works. It doesn't on me because I think most people are clueless - I got burned quite a few times in the past from personal recommendations; so I investigate a product first. Everyone in the World or close to it can like something but it has no affect on me - I have no Facebook account, smartphone, or Apple products.

Then again, I'm probably an outlier.

Nope (1)

beMendo (2481590) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648641)

Can't say that I would do it.

Re:Nope (5, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648857)

Can't say that I would do it.

The problem is the original poster, not the policy, at least so far. The original poster is an epic fail because:

The thing is, most of the employees have not used the app

You have to do that before you can decide what to do with:

we are being asked to say that we like it.

Note that you don't have to like the genre to say the product is best in class, or at least somewhat "like-able". Many years ago I was asked my opinion of an ethnic food product my former employer sold; I can't stand that kind of stuff, but I could honestly say my employers individual product was an excellent example of the genre. If I had to eat this junk in general, this is the one I'd eat. This is your out if the app is something like a female ovulation calendar app or kids educational app or whatever.

I deleted my facebook account years ago, but the social norm at the time was some dude you sat next to in 8th grade once is a "friend" and anything vaguely novel is "like", so its not as if they're asking you to get a tattoo on your forehead or become a booth babe. The standard for "like" an app is probably "it didn't make my phone catch fire, so thats good enough".

If its just too rancidly repulsive to appeal to you, or in your opinion, anyone, you need to run like hell and start emailing resumes because:
1) They're obviously grasping at straws if its so awful they have to pay people $75K/yr (or whatever) to grudgingly admit they like it.
2) After grasping at straws comes the layoffs, downsizing, bankruptcies, etc, next week. So get a jump to it.

Re:Nope (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39649199)

If I "like" an app, it probably means, "The app told me if I liked it, it would stop asking me to like it..."

Astroturfing in social media (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39648659)

As a fellow anonymous, representing the big E and the A, we get it in our inboxes daily to astroturf our products.

This seems to be a common practice nowadays, and I guess it shows you have some faith in your product. I have nothing against it as long as you like what you are doing. If you don't like astroturfing for your stuff, then don't.

What concerns me though is that you seem to be not very keen on this app. Care to elaborate why?

Re:Astroturfing in social media (3, Informative)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648899)

As a fellow anonymous, representing the big E and the A, we get it in our inboxes daily to astroturf our products.

He's not being asked to astroturf. He's being asked to like the product. Astroturfing is when you post comments to blogs and in other places saying how great the product is ... not unlike the occasional product plug we see here in slashdot. It's a term that comes from a "fake grassroots organization". If you pretend to be some unaffiliated user who posts things like "hey, the solution to your problem is Spiffy Car and Cat wax, it will solve two problems at the same time..." you're astroturfing. If you simply click "like" on Facebook, you're not.

Do you actually not like the product your company makes, whether you use it or not? If not, don't like it. If so, what's the problem? You're not being fake.

Re:Astroturfing in social media (2)

sosume (680416) | more than 2 years ago | (#39649155)

If you don't like your company's product, you should quit. You should really try to love your company and its products and recommend them to everyone in your acquaintance list. That's what is ultimately paying your paycheck in a few years and also it gives great satisfaction after working somewhere for many years. I agree it's hard to have that kind of relation with a big corporation, but seriously, for a start-up company there's nothing worse for the image than being run by a bunch of cynical bastards who don't believe in their product.

It's not the company's account (2)

scorp1us (235526) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648667)

And therefore you can set whatever terms you want. They are in effect asking you to store company materials at your house. You cannot be required to provide the company storage. And if you do, you are able to be compensated. Your online property is no different.

If they want marketing, let them hire a marketing company.

Note that the site's terms of use may prohibit some or all actions as well.

Not A Good Sign (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39648673)

I worked at a company where we were actively told to astroturf. It was a bad sign because the product sucked and instead doing something about the criticism, they buried their head in the sand. The criticism was completely well founded. My advice is to not worry about astroturfing and start looking for a new job. Your management isn't looking to fix problems, just cover over them.

Most people haven't used it? (1)

malraid (592373) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648677)

Well, people should be a bit more committed, and see the app, since it seems to be a big deal. This is probably also the fault of management for not engaging the employees more. Other than that, there's nothing wrong for putting out a good word for your employer. I'm sure every company does something similar, even if just by giving out shirts with the company logo. There's a fine line, and I'm sure plenty of companies cross over to the "wrong" side, but at least for me, it's not terrible, and to be expected actually.

It's a Thumb Trap (1)

NeroTransmitter (1928480) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648679)

The idea is that you appear anonymous, but that appearance of annonimity is actually what keeps anyone from knowing if anyone in the company is contributing. Your safety is guaranteed thanks to the thumb trap.

Did they specifically ask you to lie? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39648681)

It sounds like you're probably misinterpreting what they said. Try the app and if you like it, post about it, and disclose your relationship as "working for the company, but not developing the product". No harm no foul. They have no way to track this.

Re:Did they specifically ask you to lie? (2)

NotSanguine (1917456) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648903)

It sounds like you're probably misinterpreting what they said. Try the app and if you like it, post about it, and disclose your relationship as "working for the company, but not developing the product". No harm no foul. They have no way to track this.

What the coward said! If you actually use the app (if you work for these guys, why aren't you eating your own dog food?), you can make some sort of judgement about its quality. If it's a piece of garbage, you need to let the devs and managers know about it so they can make it better.

Since you work for these people, once you try the app you should (You'd hope) be able to say at least a couple of nice things about it ("It doesn't wipe my phone" or "Didn't exacerbate my diarrhea" etc, etc, etc). Then you're not astro-turfing are you?

The Joy of Evil (2)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648685)

Go with the flow until you get a new job. Be able to pay your bills, but plan your exit strategy now. Take lower pay to switch if you can get by for a while on a lower salary (mortgages etc.).

Get copies of the emails asking for the dirty deeds and hide them at home in case.

I've worked for slimeballs also before, so I feel for you.

Good luck.

welcome to the modern age (4, Insightful)

forgottenusername (1495209) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648689)

A few startups ago, the marketing teams entire plan was "lean on your personal social networks". They'd have been better off standing outside handing out flyers.

If you like the app and think it's useful then it doesn't hurt to promote it a little. If it's just some crap, then don't bother - you'll just desensitize your friends and contacts.

Just saying "I'm working on app X, it's going pretty well!" is subtle and non-annoying, curious people will check it out.

Anyway, a company asking employees to lean heavily on friends/family for promotion is a sure-fire sign of a failed marketing vision in my book, a problem in the business side of the house.

Short answer: (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648691)

No. Shilling is worse than trolling in my mind. If you must hype your product, at least be honest enough to let people know you're an employee.

Re:Short answer: (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | more than 2 years ago | (#39649047)

Shilling is to be expected though. I only read critical reviews if I need information-- after seeing that info, you can decide on what may be wrong with the product. Then, you have to check the neutral and positive reviews to see if it just sour grapes (or stupidity, or inherent negativity). All this for a $0.99 app does make me hate the astroturfers, but once you accept it as a necessary evil it isn't that hard to work around.

Re:Short answer: (2)

Ken_g6 (775014) | more than 2 years ago | (#39649161)

If you must hype your product, at least be honest enough to let people know you're an employee.

This isn't just a good idea. It's the law!

The revised Guides [ftc.gov] specify that while decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement. Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service.

So this boils down to... (1)

ultranaut (727657) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648699)

...should I do what Group A tells me to do or what Group B tells me to do.

Re:So this boils down to... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39648853)

I recommend Group B. I've been using Group B for years, and they've never let me down. Anytime I had a problem, I just called the toll free number (and got a human!), and they took care of my problem within a couple of minutes.

Highly recommended. Group B FTW.

Re:So this boils down to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39649117)

I beg to differ. I used Group B for six months, in that time I have had numerous problems. No one ever even appologized, and the "human" hung up on me when I asked if I could get a refund for a defective product.

I switched to Group A and never looked back, best decision I have ever made.

Meh.. just tell your friends and move on with it. (1, Troll)

The Living Fractal (162153) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648701)

Celebs do it all the time on public TV. (promote products they probably don't use let alone like).

Tell your friends you're astroturfing outside of the social networking sites and move on with your life.

Bad Marketing (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39648703)

When marketing asks the employees to 'like' something to push up it's numbers you know they're doing a bad job of things... or it's a lousy app. If you get fired for not 'liking' an app you know this isn't a company that values it's employees, it's just a people factory.

Tracking all employees? (2)

FadedTimes (581715) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648707)

Do they have a catalog of all the employees social media links? How would they know who did advertise and who didn't?

Re:Tracking all employees? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39648881)

See, their core product is an app that does just that.

Honesty (4, Insightful)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648717)

Try the app. See if it's really worth saying good things about. If so, I'd go ahead and praise it as deserved. If not, send a message to the sales/QA/service department as appropriate saying why you can't promote the app. Keep a copy of that message just in case you have to show that you were fired for raising an ethical concern.

Of course, encourage others to do the same, and mention your plan to superiors. They might just admire your behavior, and suggest it to more of the company. Few managers really want to be the guy to let a bad PR situation loose, so they might jump at the chance to prove they're more ethical than that nasty sales department - especially if the app is actually decent, and there's a good chance it'll get astroturfed anyway.

Re:Honesty (1, Flamebait)

eljefe6a (2289776) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648971)

You probably haven't ever dealt with a company like this. Honesty isn't the best policy and you will yourself either shunned or fired.

Re:Honesty (5, Informative)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#39649195)

Twice, actually. Once it was actually my project being shilled (I liked the project and thought it was useful - though I did end up getting fired from there, I'll still gladly tout its benefits in the appropriate context), and once I hadn't bothered trying the product. The latter one sucked, and I told the other team exactly why, and how I thought it could be improved. I got called into a meeting with other employees who'd complained, and the project lead took notes while we ran through the demo showing what we didn't like. The project went back for another round of revisions, and eventually came out much better for it. I never talked about the project publicly, and didn't get fired, either.

Dishonest ass-kissing will get you promoted, because you make bosses like you personally. Honest critiquing with respect for politics will get you respect, because you show that you're dedicated to the company goals.

Re:Honesty (3, Interesting)

fermion (181285) | more than 2 years ago | (#39649053)

The dishonest thing about "astroturfing" is the lack of full disclosure. I see nothing wrong with an employee or developer or managet stating in a review who they think is good about a product. Heck, I would even welcome some inside information about details that make the product really good. However the consumer does have a right to know when a review has a deep interest in the success of a product. I know disclosure is not always permitted, so what I would say is to write nothing that is untrue.

In any case I wonder if these programs really work. If a product is popular, the competition has an equal right to state honestly everything they think is bad about a product. In the end all we have is an arms race where the outcome is determined by advertising resources, not quality of product. And then we back where we started from.

One way (4, Insightful)

tool462 (677306) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648723)

You could always try the app yourself then give it an honest review. If you genuinely like it, it's not astroturfing.
If you don't like it, you could consider feeding that back to the developers as that may reveal more fundamentally why it's not selling well.

Re:One way (3, Insightful)

gatfirls (1315141) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648941)

Dead on. Seriously, your employer is just asking you to help with marketing. Raising awareness is not some evil agenda. Do you think Trixx are really only for kids?

Re:One way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39649135)

No. The opposite. I think that feeding Trix to kids is a form of child abuse.

You're being asked to "like" it? (4, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648739)

So are we just talking about clicking the "Like" button on Facebook? That doesn't sound terrifically evil. It's not unusual for people to "like" something they don't like, and so I wouldn't even really consider it dishonest. Like I "like" one of my friend's websites, but... you know, it's just because it's my friend's site. My work has asked me to make use my LinkedIn Profile shows that I work where I do, in case the company gets looked up.

Also, are they simply asking you to do it, or are they somehow monitoring everyone's accounts to make sure they do it, and then threatening some kind of response if you don't "like" their product? If they're just asking, and you don't want to do it, then don't do it.

This doesn't seem like a serious problem.

Re:You're being asked to "like" it? (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648959)

This doesn't seem like a serious problem.

Unless they are asking him to join Facebook...

Re:You're being asked to "like" it? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39649069)

It's not unusual for people to "like" something they don't like, and so I wouldn't even really consider it dishonest. Like I "like" one of my friend's websites, but... you know, it's just because it's my friend's site.

I "like" your attitude. Bland as baby poo.

Try it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39648745)

If you like it, tell your friends. If you don't, tell your coworkers why their app sucks.

Don't lie (2)

mbone (558574) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648751)

My advice is, don't lie. Try out the app and, if you like it, promote it, but don't lie about it.

Shouldn't the Employees be familiar with the Ap? (2)

mykepredko (40154) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648759)

If the company's employees aren't familiar with the Ap (which seems strange as it is something they are all getting at least some of their salary on) shouldn't this be indication one for the marketeers that it isn't very good? Maybe it's for an obscure market or target customer, but I would still think that people had opinions on it if it was useful in any way.

When I think back to the various companies at which I have worked, *everybody* had an opinion of the company's products and generally used them.

If the majority of employees have no experience with it, I would think the most positive action the company could take would be to fire the Ap's product manager because if the Ap can't generate any interest in the company, then clearly it's NFG.

myke

Re:Shouldn't the Employees be familiar with the Ap (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39649183)

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You should use the product (2)

tjmcgee (749076) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648761)

Why do you work for a company who's products you don't use? Is the app too expensive, or just not something that is suited to your life? Frankly if neither you nor your colleagues use a product your company created, why does the company think anyone will use it? If the product is good, but you just don't have a use for it, I don't see any ethical issues in promoting it. But if it's simply not a good product then I would probably not promote it, after all it's your personal reputation that is at stake. I'd also start looking for another job.

Re:You should use the product (2)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39649095)

Why do you work for a company who's products you don't use? Is the app too expensive, or just not something that is suited to your life? Frankly if neither you nor your colleagues use a product your company created, why does the company think anyone will use it?

Many jobs ago over the summer I worked IT for a place that provided emergency 24x7 repair service for industrial cranes (like those things you see moving shipping containers at seaports and building skyscrapers, nothing under, say, 10 tons capacity) Obviously I had no use for their service, but I could easily intelligently evaluate what it would be like to be their customer, and compare them to similar emergency service providers and I knew a little bit about the competition and their strengths and weaknesses.

So the original posters argument is he admits in writing to knowing nothing about the product, and possibly knows nothing about the entire business sector they operate in, yet he's apparently got an opinion about how they run things anyway... gotta be working in government or finance, definitely at management level, that's what I'm thinking.

Which approach? (0)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648769)

How would you deal with this?

This really depends on your approach. You could go the Apple route and say you love your product. The problem is people can spot this really easily and they may out you as a shill. You might instead try the Google approach and say you hate the lead competitor's product. Your followers won't realize they're shilling for you because they'll feel righteous. The best part is the ensuing flame war will fuel itself!

The crux is enforcement. (1)

metrometro (1092237) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648771)

If they were truely black hat, they'd be creating spoof accounts and autoposting from a quiet room where no one can see it. Asking people to, you know, use your product and, maybe, talk about it isn't even that shady.

Asking, sure. Enforcing, that's something else. But I suspect they won't do much. The employer doesn't have all that much leverage there, because it's all happening out in the public. Not hard to blow the whistle on this, and the various marketplaces can nuke a product without recourse, which is something that should keep marketing people awake at night.

This is how the world works (4, Insightful)

Coward Anonymous (110649) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648781)

Get used to it. Everybody does it and much of what you think of as news (especially tech news) is networked people astro turfing for each other.

If you think some of your friends will find it interesting, why not? Just serve your friends well. Use the app and be honest about what you like about it. If you can't stand it, just mention the app without saying you like it.
It is somewhat self serving and it may feel dirty but you are helping your company and yourself and informing your friends who may be interested and so everyone benefits. This is how the world works.

Maybe actually TRY the app? (2)

wintermute740 (450084) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648785)

How about you actually TRY the app? If it's good, go ahead an give it a favorable review, but include full disclosure that you're an employee. That way there is no question of whether you're astroturfing or not.

Eat your own dog food (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39648789)

most of the employees have not used the app

Why not? What kind of app is it? How can you expect others to use it if you can't/don't/won't use it yourselves? Eat your own dog food.

Out her. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39648797)

How about this? Rate it one star, with the comment:

"My HR/Marketing Rep, [insert HR/Marketing Rep's name] told me to rate this application." See if public embarrassment is enough to dial back the pressure to astroturf.

I would, of course, make sure that you can anonymously rate the application.

Try the thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39648801)

Give the app an honest try. If you have good things to say about it, then you can honestly say good things about it ("another division at my company made [application], I found it quite useful for [honest evaluation of hype]"). If it's useless or irrelevant to your life, tell marketting that you cannot find anything good to say about the software, but that if they [improve it/make something you'd find useful] you would inform your friends.

If marketting does not like your answer, tell HR that another division is harrassing you, and if they do not cease, you will take appropriate measures.

Also, keep every e-mail about this in case you do get in trouble for taking an honest stand.

Warning Signs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39648803)

1. "Most of the employees have not used the app." This is a sign that the app probably isn't very good, so you probably shouldn't evangelize it.

2. " Will the marketing or HR people look at who has astroturfed, and who has not at raise time?" Do the marketing and HR people determine the pay raises of the engineering staff at your company? If so, run, because you have bigger problems.

It's only wrong if you lie. (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648825)

If you do a review of the product, do a review of the product.

If it sucks, call it out, if it's great then point out it's qualities.

If the product sucks your job is on the line anyway, the only way that your job will still be there is if the product is actually good so you might as well tell the truth, and if the truth sucks get going on that resume.

Tl;dr: You're working for unethical slimeballs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39648837)

One thing I've never understood is when a company asks its employees to act unethically -- much less does it in a very open way like this -- why would you think the company won't act unethically towards its non-management employees?
 
For example: When the Zynga brouhaha about them considering ditching old employee's stock options came up, it was only the specifics of it that were news; of course Zynga, who are obviously scumbags, would think about doing something along those lines. The people who worked for Zynga didn't do it out of desperation, they chose to work for a company like Zynga because they thought they'd get rich and didn't care about things like having the offical policy to rip off other games or distribute spyware to users. Then the scum they work for considers turning their sights on them and they're surprised?
 
If you aren't desperate for money, start shopping for a new job. If you are pretty desperate for this job, then yes, you're going to have to astroturf because they likely will check up on you.

Inability to Understand Social Media? (2)

dryriver (1010635) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648841)

It seems that companies think of social media in two ways only: 1) Can we use this to our advantage? 2) Can this be used against us? They don't seem to understand that YOUR social media account actually REPRESENTS YOU on the internet, as in your ONLINE IDENTITY. So what they are asking you to do is analogous to making you stand on the sidewalk in front of a supermarket with a bullhorn, in a yellow chicken-suit, and then making you shout "Fred Freddson's Eggs are the BEST EGGS in the market. Buy today! You'll LOOOOVE these eggs!" at anyone who passes by? Would you do this in real life if your employer asked you to? Its up to you to decide whether "Astroturfing" on social media is as bad as that. How much do you like your job? If you depend on it financially, then yes, by all means, do some Astroturfing. If the job sucks on the other hand, and you think you can find a better one, by all means, tell your employer "You know, I shouldn't be FORCED to use my social media accounts for the good of the company... There are better ways of marketing a product." Good luck with your job...

Kim Kardashian (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39648849)

She was on Fox and Friends this morning. She goes on about how great the Nokia 900 that she has is. You know for a fact that she is getting paid to talk about that device. Expecially since she said she had it for a while and the phone just came out. It had pictures of her baby as the wall paper on it and so on. Note all though she never said she was being paid to talk about it she was "slipping" it in the conversation. Makes me sick I can't get paid to say things.

Re:Carls Jr (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39648981)

Obligatory Idiocracy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svJXd9xxhv8 [youtube.com]

Re:Kim Kardashian (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 2 years ago | (#39649007)

Makes me sick I can't get paid to say things.

You're not getting paid, because your ass isn't big enough.

Get back to work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39648851)

So first you refuse to thumbs-up our app on facebook, and now you are killing time on Slashdot complaining about how we just asked for a little teamwork on the new release? Come on, jerk, either you like it or you don't. And get back to work.

Sincerely,

Your boss (posting AC for obvious reasons)

Just be completely honest (1)

egamma (572162) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648855)

...and have your handle be "LoyalEmployeeofCompany", where company is the company you're shilling for.

Why is this a question? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39648859)

Do the same thing you do to an acquaintance who is like "Dude, tell your friends about my band bro". Smile, nod, ignore.

You need money, so play both sides. (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648863)

You work for evil cocksuckers, but need money. Astroturf on expendable accounts, while systematically and __untraceably__ documenting all the astroturfing you can find.

Leak the info at your convenience. You get paid, they get fucked, life is good. There is no moral obligation to companies which astroturf.

I would not take this lightly (1)

spirit_fingers (777604) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648865)

I'd hire a lawyer and have them fire off a terse letter reminding them that my political views are my private business and they can go fuck themselves. Oh, and by the way, my refusal to participate in their bogus political scheme had better not affect my prospects for a raise or advancement or there will be hell to pay. Have a nice day.

Two things (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39648867)

I would assume if they are selling it, the company will be more profitable. This is in your interest. Therefor, I say astroturf away.. However, try it first, cause if you promote it and its crap, it could damage the company.

Your job will probably disappear. (1)

Viewsonic (584922) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648879)

Obviously selling the product is a concern for your employer. This means it is a concern for you. If your employer cannot make money, how do you expect them to pay you? I'm not telling you to lie, or make anything up, but why aren't you being proactive about this and asking for the app to use for your own? Unless you hate your company, then expect to be let go for some other reason.

Just be honest. (1)

MrLizard (95131) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648885)

Well, I'd say, do this:
Is the app actually any good? Does it do what it's supposed to? Does it have a target audience that would like it, but might not be aware of it?
If so, promote it honestly. Tell the truth:"I work for this company, and I'm proud of the product we make. If you want an app that does blah, you should try this one out. It's nifty, and I stand behind the work my company and my co-workers have done on it."

If not... just look for a new job. If you think your company is making crap, you're probably right, and it's better to get out before they kick you out.

This isn't astroturfing. (4, Informative)

bistromath007 (1253428) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648933)

That would be if you were expected to fake a bunch of actual reviews. Of course you "like" it. It buys you food. Employees have always been expected to stand behind their company's work in at least a "well, it's ours" kind of way.

Basic Office Skills (5, Insightful)

royallthefourth (1564389) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648943)

When marketing (or most anyone else) sends an email to the entire company, ignore it. Duh.

You already know the answer. (1)

s4m7 (519684) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648963)

If you have moral difficulties with something outside the scope of your employment agreement and/or job responsibilities, then don't do it.

Normally someone doesn't have to ask me to astroturf a project I'm working on. I want my company to be a viable source of employment so their bottom line is my bottom line. The more money I make them, the more money there is around raise time, whether they're keeping a naughty or nice list or not. Keeping that in mind, I'm usually very eager to promote things I'm working on. Even if I haven't tried it, I probably know what advantages it offers over competing products.

I'm perplexed at how developers can make something and not use it. Or marketers can sell something they don't use. Or administrators can manage people working on something they don't use. It strikes me that this is what Marx was talking about with regard to alienation. And it smells like a management failure, either to hire people who care enough about the work they do, or to instill enough of a sense of shared involvement, to casually mention it to some friends.

"Hey guys I'm working on this thing, check it out and let me know what you think!" is subtle, effective and not pushy. If you don't feel right doing that? look for another job.

Simple: (1)

trum4n (982031) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648979)

Sell your story to news, sue when you get fired for telling the truth.

Not using it isn't that odd.... (1)

MrLizard (95131) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648997)

I see a lot of "If the employees don't use it, it must be crap!" comments here, which makes me wonder a little about what kinds of jobs people hold. Most of my professional career has been spent writing code for products I would never personally use -- vertical market software for large financial institutions, for example, or custom databases for people with very specific needs. To pick something at random, an app which helps people layout and plan gardens is not necessarily an app most of the programmers who work on it will be using themselves, unless you happened to have hired only programmers who are also gardeners. Replace "gardening" with "birdwatching", "tracking blood sugar levels", "scanning postage stamps for your online stamp collection", or a zillion other things which there might be a market for, but which might not be a passion for the people actually developing it. It's really not at all uncommon for the employees of a company to not also be the target market of that company, and not just in software.

Simple (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39649017)

When asking slashdot, use the company name. Backlash will stop this nonsense.

Just say you will (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39649021)

And don't do it. Not like anyone will check, if they do check then lie again and say you did your "like" must have been "lost in the system".

http://www.amazon.com/Dilbert-Way-Weasel-Outwitting-Pants-Wearing/dp/006052149X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1334175670&sr=8-1

read that book and learn from it, remember the mantra of modern line "integrity is for suckers"

You have an attitude problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39649045)

We are going to need your Facebook password.

I'd try the app (2)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 2 years ago | (#39649059)

If it's good, I'd say so. If it sucks, well, then I'd have some thinking to do. Of course, if a company is relying on ME to do their PR, it's probably near bankruptcy anyway. :-P

It depends. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39649065)

I once worked at a company that fired their sales staff, then essentially asked us (the developers) to rake in clients for them, after working hours, for a 20% commission. Strangely enough, this brilliant management style didn't quite work out and the company went belly-up.

Point being, counter-intuitively, if your company actually need you to astroturf for them, you probably shouldn't. Instead, run.

huh? (1)

CosaNostra Pizza Inc (1299163) | more than 2 years ago | (#39649099)

So let me get this straight...You are not part of the marketing department but the marketing folks are asking you and the rest of the company to do their jobs for them??? That's what it sounds like to me.

Yes | No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39649107)

Yes | No. Choose one.

I declined (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39649127)

My employer does this. Every new iPhone release, we're asked to give glowing reviews. They say that our competition will post a bunch of negative reviews, so we have to post good reviews just to balance them out and make the reviews fair. They even sent out instructions on how to download and review the app even if you don't have an iPhone.

While it may be true that this is a necessary business activity, frankly it's not my job. I even said that if it's necesary, why can't the marketers create a bunch of accounts and do their job themselves. Oh, no, that would be unethical. Better them than me, I uttered under my breath, and besides, being unethical is not in my job description, even if it is in theirs.

What's next, the toilets need to be scrubbed and it's better to ask the engineers to voluteer their time than it is to pay a janitor?

If I were paid an hourly wage, then yes I would probably do it, but I would give an honest review, not just an automatic: "OMG This is Terrific! Ignore all those naysayers, they don't know what they're talking about!" But volunteer my time so that the marketers, who are also salaried, can save some of theirs? No way Jose!

AMWAY called... (1)

kungfugleek (1314949) | more than 2 years ago | (#39649129)

Jeez, this is just like a pyramid scheme, except you don't get a percentage of the sales.

Expect little impact on your job (1)

Yoik (955095) | more than 2 years ago | (#39649137)

Lots of companies make requests like this, or more benign looking stuff like asking that you donate to particular causes and telling someone so the company can effectively claim credit for your donation. The request is cheap and might give the company something it values.

But if it values you as an employee, the companies' request will be polite and ignoring it, or refusing politely, will have little or no impact on your pay or retention. Making a big stink about it, tho, will hurt your future unless it was already controversial in the executive suite.

It is all about fitting in with the culture, and few companies have a consistent one across engineering, marketing, and finance. If they did, Dilbert could never have succeeded.

Smells like... (1)

bloobamator (939353) | more than 2 years ago | (#39649165)

fraud.

Try out the app and do it (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#39649189)

Just try out the app and if you like it, then go on Facebook and "Like" it.

If you don't like it, then start looking for a job, why would you want to keep working at a company that produces apps that even its own employees don't like?

Try it? (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 2 years ago | (#39649191)

How about you try the app, then post a review if you like it?

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