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How to Use Trolls for Fun and Profit

Outsmarting the bottom feeders can put you on top.

Content marketing hoaxes falsely trading on a brand’s good name are nothing new. Obviously they work because the same ones seem to stick around for years and years. This is unbelievable considering how dumb a person would have to be to fall for one.
Which is why I’m not here to tell you not to fall for obvious content marketing hoaxes. If you can walk and chew gum, even at the same time, I’m confident you’re too smart for that.
What I want to do is give you some advice on what to do if some troll hiding in a basement in (fill in the blank with country you stereotype as being full of scammers, keeping in mind that not all Nigerian Prince scams actually originate in Nigeria) usurps your brand’s good name. While there might not be much legal recourse, there are some easy ways to deal with it.
First, here are examples of two very common content marketing hoaxes:
Just this morning, by lucky coincidence since I woke up having to write this piece, I received an email from a friend’s hacked account. The email contained a link to a hoax (safe link) that has been making the rounds for a few years in which some rather slick, professional-looking content tells readers that Facebook will be offering thousands of people a chance to make thousands of dollars working from home. You just need to share your credit card info with strangers.
What could go wrong?
Deadspin recently put up a post about another content marketing hoax that appears on respectable landing pages such as This hoax piggybacks on the names of famous athletes to promise you the body you’ve always dreamed about. Just give them your personal information and before you know it you’ll be chucking 60-yard touchdown bombs to Gronk like it ain’t no thang.
And it ain’t no thang, because surely even mouth breathers gasp, “That’s gotta be fake” as soon as they see one of these.
Still, the question becomes what a brand can do if some unsavory marketers starts running game on its good name? Suing or sending cease and desist orders to trolls sitting in basements in country X is notoriously hard to do.
If this happens to a brand you either own or are representing, I’m going to recommend you embrace these hoaxes as golden opportunities.
Get on whatever social or traditional media you can and tell everybody the brand knows what is going on and make it clear that the brand is in no way associated with it. Explain how and why it happens and lament the fact that you can’t do anything to stop it, but on the other hand, you want the public to know you are looking out for its best interest.
Every person who has ever spent more than a nanosecond online has been exposed to this B.S. It’s actually a chance for your brand to connect to consumers on a human level since really your brand is as much of a victim as them. It’s a rare chance for a brand to become just one of the guys. Since you can’t get rid of them, you might as well do some content marketing judo and use the strength of the hoaxes’ reach to your advantage.
Also, set aside a budget to send a log to companies like Yahoo and Facebook when they allow any hoax content marketing piggybacking your brand onto their site. It might not stop them, but it’s a pretty solid way to let them know what’s up.

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