Fascinating piece in Business Week on some of the spam practices within social media. While the focus is on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, it reminds all of us who create content sites that we need to be vigilant about protecting our sites and our users from these dirt bags. The piece cites an executive from an anti-spam software company who stated that spammers create as many as 40 percent of the accounts on social media sites. About 8 percent of messages sent via social pages are spam, approximately twice the volume of six months ago. Because the email providers have become pretty good about filtering out obvious spam, the spammer have moved on to social.
What they’re doing now is embedding code that forces a “like” into a link to a page with something such as a video as bait. Likejacking. On Twitter, it’s provocative text linking to spam; on Pinterest it’s a photo that links to a virus or other spam. I don’t think many of us are engaged in doing this – it seems to be a few rotten apples, some of whom have been sued. Or are we?
There is still a tendency for marketers to use social media as we used to use traditional media – we talk, they listen. We broadcast messages and wait for the register to ring. Today, doing that on a Facebook brand page or within a Twitter feed is a sure way to get blocked, unfriended, hidden, or ignored. To a certain extent, any sort of one-sided discussion is seen as spam in many folks’ minds.
We spend too much time wondering if social is marketing or PR or customer service. We might argue about which department ought to control it. Those are good discussions to have but what we can’t be doing in the interim is flooding our fans’ news feeds with off-target messages about us when we ought to be listening and engaging where appropriate with them. Otherwise, how are we different from the likejackers?