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Brands that boost their Facebook fan base by offering freebies and discounts to people who sign up could face a backlash in the not-too-distant future, warns Augie Ray. Social search engines are likely to find ways to weed out “fake” fans, just as conventional search engines learned to screen out “black hat” marketers who sought to manipulate their algorithms. “Brands hoping to help their social search engine relevance by amassing fans should take heed — the easy way may work for a while, but the authentic and hard way always wins in the end,” Ray writes.

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About 70% of brand coverage by bloggers around the world is disconnected from the core messages being promoted by digital marketers, according to a study by PR firm Burson-Marsteller.

Distortion of Company Messages by Blogs

Distortion of Company Messages by Blogs by Region, May 2010, (c) eMarketer

Some degree of message distortion is inevitable, but experts say that companies can reduce the noise by creating powerful content of their own – if bloggers can link directly to high-quality content, the theory goes, they’re less likely to put their own spin on things.

Nearly three-quarters of blog posts don’t reflect corporate messaging

Marketers and other corporate communications professionals may sometimes feel they have a thankless task: carefully craft messages about their company’s thought leadership, social responsibility efforts and new product or service launches, only to find those messages distorted as they’re disseminated through the media.

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Social Media Landscape

A majority of social marketers don’t have a formal social-media strategy, according to a study from Digital Brand Expressions. Companies have indefinite ideas about how they want to use social tools, but then fail to explicitly think through and communicate the methods and metrics they want to use. “This leaves the majority of organizations exposed to problems arising from employees saying the wrong things in the wrong ways to the wrong people at the wrong time,” the report notes.

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