Improving Customer Experience Through Social Media & Content
Social Media Scams – How to Spot Them and How to Protect Your Brand

Social Media Scams – How to Spot Them and How to Protect Your Brand

aToday I noticed one of the old mainstays of social media scams appear in my Facebook feed again. I’m talking about the free voucher from a major brand (in this case Bunnings) that one of your friends has tagged you in when they have apparently “shared” it. For those unfamiliar, it looks something like the image on the right.

Aside from me already knowing these are fake, there are a handful of tell tale signs here:

  • The poorly sized image – a brand like Bunnings would have their logo correctly sized on Facebook
  • The unnecessary capitalisation of the word “Now”
  • The source of the post – coming via Spotify
  • In all cases of seeing it today, the things that were consistent – the “Thanks”, and the follow-up comment from the poster of “Quickly”.

If you want to get into the technicalities of how these scams work, I recommend reading this post from security expert Troy Hunt from a couple of years ago. The upshot of it is that it’s designed to suck you down further into the rabbit hole of free offers from other sites, capture personal data, and potentially worse.

It’s not the only type of scam that we see on Facebook though.

The offer of a free car from Mercedes for liking a page and sharing a photo with a comment on the colour you want? The over ordered iPads at a major department store that you can get for nothing by liking and sharing? Flights and accommodation to celebrate the millionth passenger that you have a chance if you share pictures of the boarding pass?

All scams.

If you’re looking for telltale signs, look at the number of fans the page has, an extraneous period at the end of the brand name, and grammatical errors. Then search for the brand itself, most will be verified with the blue tick.

 

And the most recent:

Why do social media scams work?

People will share them and connect with them because they appear to be from reputable brands. Then they are in your feed and have the opportunity to share other content that may be more malicious once you click on it.

People will share them and connect with them because they appear to be from reputable brands. Then they are in your feed and have the opportunity to share other content that may be more malicious once you click on it.

So why is it that people continue to fall for it?

Simply, they rely on one of the top reasons people connect with brands on social channels at all – free stuff.

Promotions have long been one of the top reasons someone will engage with a brand, particularly on Facebook. 15% of people in a recent survey done by HubSpot claim they follow brands who offer something for free.

It only takes one “user zero” to make the mistake of clicking on it for it to spread into many of their friend’s feeds, in the case of the Bunnings example above, 78 people. Then it takes only one of those 78 to click on it, and you get the picture of how these spread so fast. Often times, people don’t know what they’ve done. The last comment below the one above was “I don’t know what I clicked on. It’s just an advertisement….”.

People love the idea of something for nothing. It’s human nature and to a large degree, social platforms have fuelled that further. The best we can hope for is that people are more vigilant about the things they click on and share. Continue to stick to the old maxim, that if something looks too good to be true, it likely is.

How do I protect my brand from social media scams?

The reality of these social media scams is that they can strike any brand. When you become aware of it, post it up. Put a message on your Facebook page, Twitter feed, Instagram and anywhere else you can with an image that can’t be missed.

Monitoring your brand mentions on social is important. When you become aware of a social media scam, post a notice up. Put a message on your website, social pages and anywhere else you can with an image that can’t be missed. If necessary boost these messages to your audience

Try to have your profiles verified as well. This sends a signal that unless it comes from your page directly, it’s not genuine.

Also, keep yourself ahead of these basic scams with the promotions you do run. None of these tactics are necessarily against the terms of service for any of the platforms. But they feel scammy if you do genuinely run them, so have promotional mechanics that are more polished.

It’s also important to report these scams on the platform. Use the abuse reporting systems available to you on each platform when you spot them. Leverage your legitimate followers and encourage them to do the same.

PHOTO – John Perivolaris via Flickr

  • Great article.

    I am amazed that people still believe major organization’s would give so much expensive free stuff away online for the simple act of LIKING and SHARING.

    Facebook should be able to filter these scams …..

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