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Can social media be used by marketers to cover negative feedback?

Everyone thinks that social media can give people the chance to speak up and help people amplify their voice, but can you cover these voices with social media marketing?

An example would be Samsung, which spends 4.3 billion dollars this year on advertising. Apple is "only" spending 1 billion, but they have a great marketing machine which explains why we rarely hear about the abuses of their Chinese business partners and they don't seem to be concerned about it.

Do you think that these companies, and others, are basically "influencing" the social media universe by heavily promoting their products, thus making complaints and negative stories almost irrelevant?

If this is possible, should we question the real power of social media and ask either it's much different from traditional media when it comes to advertising, which was controlled by whoever had the most money to spend.

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    Aug 7 2013: I have only heard of one reported incident of this happening, but I have not been able to find that reporting via Google or Bing. I do know that major corporations employ web-robots, or web-crawlers to mechanically search social media postings and find negative associations being made with their products.

    These same tools are used to make blog-posts to repair negative associations. The 'bots make posts that intentionally cast corporate products or corporate behavior in a positive light (like BP w/the Gulf of Mexico oil spill a few years back). In the context of social-media, it isn't just advertising, it is outright lying. The web 'bots make posts that read like they were made by human beings. But they were not. And the computer generated posts are made 'en mass and across absolutely ALL of Facebook in a matter of minutes. If corporations had to hire real people to do this, it would take hours of searching and hours of typing to achieve the same effect.

    More contract work for the 'call center' in either India or Costa Rica. But who needs an army of underpaid computer professionals when a web server can be set up to accomplish the same thing in minutes rather than days or weeks and at a minuscule fraction of the cost.

    What they can do on Facebook & Twitter & in other social media is lying. They make it look like thousands of people are saying wonderful things about their product(s). They make it look like thousands of people are calling the news media 'liars' for reporting the truth about the limitations of and problems with their products. Same story for reports of corporate misbehavior. They start w/Facebook, Twitter & other social media. And eventually the major news outlets fall-in-line.