Don’t Do This: Bogus Testimonials Are Just Bad Marketing

I’m always paying attention to the advertisements that show up in my daily Internet usage, and had a most interesting experience on X (née Twitter) yesterday. I was going through my newsfeed as usual and there were ads, as usual. This time, however, I was seeing ads for a service called Karma Shopping (@karma_shopping) that purports to offer a way to save money on Amazon purchases. I first bumped into this ad:

karma shopping ad on x twitter - marie lembert

Not the worst ad I’ve seen and the fact that it’s ostensibly retweeting a testimonial from customer Marie Lambert (@mlambert374). Not only that, but the blue check by her name denotes that she’s a verified (most typically paying) X/Twitter subscriber, offering even more credibility.

Try to check on our influencer friend Marie, however, and it’s rather surprising what appears:

karma shopping ad on x twitter - marie lambert account doesn't exist

Now it’s possible that Marie had her account, offered up a testimonial to Karma Shopping, then quit the service. But to have a non-existent account? This definitely casts great doubt on the veracity of the testimonial.

A few hours later, another Karma Shopping ad showed up:

karma shopping ad on x twitter - James Cohen

Again, our influencer in question has a blue checkmark. More interestingly, his username on X/Twitter is @jcohen374. Now, what are the odds that two people who are going to offer up testimonials for a service have the same last three digits in their usernames? Yeah, not so much.

But what Karma Shopping really tripped up on was in reserving the bogus account, because it’s clear that someone did register the account @jcohen374 so they could have some fun…

karma shopping ad on x twitter - james cohen stub of account

Yes, the only post that “James” has made says “@karma_shopping is a scam, don’t use it.” Ouch.

From an ethical marketing perspective, there are all sorts of problems with a company that seems to be relying on bogus testimonials for its marketing, and it would not be a surprise if the Federal Trade Commission or Better Business Bureau might want to investigate. But just as relevant is the lesson of the story here too: If you’re going to link to other users or sites, make sure you know what you’re doing and test those links occasionally.

Now, how legit are your testimonials and can you defend them if a customer gets curious or a lawyer comes calling? Something to consider…

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