During the last two years of running a user generated site I’ve seen plenty of examples of brands hiding behind fake identities to create “presence” and push content. We do have plenty of sponsorship opportunities on MyItThings.com (fashion focused social network I run), which would be probably more appropriate for brands, but from some reason some choose the shortcut.

The latest example is the much discussed Supermodelquins campaign by Old Navy. I posted my opinion about it on my fashion blog, then twittered about it, and immediately was followed by one of the Supermodelquins, a fact which freaked me out a bit.

Few days later, this post appeared on the site and now it seems like the Supermodelquins follow me everywhere (ok, I might be too paranoid). “Exclusive First Look into the Lives of the Old Navy Supermodelquins” included promotional video, couple SEO links leading to the new and sleek Old Navy microsite and sounded exactly like a press release, which you can also find on the blog of M80 – a social media agency.

After running a community site for so long I know that if the newly created user allsweetness was a real person, he/she would sound more like this or this. While I don’t have a certain proof – this just doesn’t seem to be the case.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy that our social network is on the “target list” for fashion focused social media agencies, but I think that hiding behind a (possibly) fake user profile and posting a press release isn’t different from placing Old Navy flayers on a community board. It’s tasteless and useless.

This is obviously just one very specific case, but there are lots of discussions going on today on whether brands belong on social networks like Twitter and Facebook. There is no one right answer to that, but one rule I believe brands should follow is being authentic, even if you are a SuperModelquin…