Shill marketing is underground marketing. Basically, someone who is connected to a business tries to pretend that he is a neutral source. He provides a supposedly unbiased and objective testimonial, supposedly from personal experience with a product and service, and convinces others to try it too.
Shill marketing builds on the principle that people are more likely to believe in a product or service through testimonials from people they know, or word-of-mouth rather than traditional marketing techniques like ads and posters. They are naturally suspicious of endorsers who are paid to praise something.
Shill marketing is sometimes illegal, but is always unethical and deceptive. Basically, the company is lying to its customers, by creating a shill (or in some case, putting an entire group of people who will try to reinforce each other’s story and get into a big conversation). Unfortunately shill marketing is becoming more and more prevalent because of the internet, where a single person can hide behind multiple and anonymous user names and infiltrate chatrooms, discussion boards and blogs.
One of their most common “modus operandi” is to type a question like, “I’m considering this (name product). What’s your experience with it?” Then, he will log off and re-enter the boards under a different identity, or simply work with other shills who will post praises. “Yes, it’s the best I’ve ever bought!” or “I was so happy with the features and the customer service!”
Of course there are discussion boards with authentic customer reviews and feedback, and it is quite a challenge for people to different shill marketing from the real thing. One sign is if the answers are too quick, and the reviews too positive and glowing.