Fake Identities, Cowards, and How to Truly Elevate Your Online Brand

by Marcus Sheridan

fake online identities

Sadly, many businesses feel they need to be the Talented Mr. Ripley to establish their online brand.

I see it more and more, and frankly, it’s an action that makes me want to vomit. Just the other day, I was on a swimming pool forum and noticed how a supposed ‘pool shopper’, who of course had no identity, was speaking of his experience with a particular manufacturer and discussing why he thought they were great. The post was worded and titled in such a way that it was obviously written by said manufacturer for SEO and branding purposes. In fact, it was a blatant case of fake identity.  Even worse, that same day the ‘manufacturer’ had, again under an assumed customer name, made multiple comments under other posts talking about how good of an experience they had with said company (i.e. themselves).

When I see such ridiculous and dishonest practices on the internet and on forums, I can only shake my head in disbelief. Why companies and businesses would choose to purport to be consumers is a clear sign that they have no clue in terms of how the internet really works and how to properly establish an online brand.

To Hide or Not To Hide, That Is the Question

To give you an example of what I’m talking about, the swimming pool forum I’m referring to, PoolSpaForum, has thousands of ‘members’. But despite all these members and despite the fact that so many are actually pool and spa professionals, a huge majority work under aliases and have no bio information.

The other extremely small minority is made of up people like me. They have real names. They have real photos. They actually fill out all the information on their bio forms. In short, they’re real people with real opinions and they care.

But the question is why do companies elect to use such a gutless and thoughtless approach ? Why not build your brand the honest and straight-forward way? There is only one good answer I can think of:

They Are Cowards and They Are Lazy.

Yep, strong words, but it’s true. Such companies are scared to have a voice, afraid to be right or wrong. They are also too lazy to put their thoughts on a forum, a blog, or a video for the world to see.

Fact is, before I got into the world of teaching about sales and marketing I developed my brand as a thought leader in the swimming pool industry. I’ve written an ebook, hundreds of blog articles, and produced hours of video for the sole purpose of educating consumers about swimming pools. And have I come under attack at times? Yep,sure thing. That’s what it means to have an opinion. Some will praise you, some will attack you, and such is the life of the guy or gal that bothers to have a voice.

But along with these attacks my business partners and I have developed a following. People know that we are going to say things like we see them, without all the bull that often accompanies an opinion. We are the antithesis of a politician and because of that, consumers trust and believe what we say.

And one other point about actually being a ‘real person’ on venues like forums, blogs, etc—This year alone I’ve sold 2 swimming pool projects because someone found out about me and my website on PoolSpaForum. In layman’s terms, that equated to about $90,000 in sales. In other words, while most companies are busy faking their identity and attempting to sound like a consumer, I’ve been happily building my brand, increasing my web traffic, and making more sales.

Which Do You Choose?

So that’s my simple challenge to you today. Never hide. Never fear criticism. Stand up, with chin high, and say what you feel about your product and niche. I can promise that if you only do this with a sincere heart, and contribute valuable content to your niche on a consistent basis, your brand will eventually skyrocket and your sales will follow the lead.

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