Archive for category: Opinion

Social Media Scams – How to Spot One

05 Mar
March 5, 2015

Today 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.

Social media scam dressed up as a Bunnings offerAside 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 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.

Two examples of the latest Qantas scam

Two examples of the latest Qantas scam

Why do social media scams work?

People will share the 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 dont know what i clicked on. it’s just an advertisement….”.

Personally, I think it’s an unsolvable problem, short of some major action from Facebook that will limit how they work technically.

People will always want 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, and continue to stick to the old maxim, that if something looks too good to be true, it likely is.

PHOTO – John Perivolaris via Flickr

Ello’s Proposition Deficit

30 Sep
September 30, 2014

Unless you’ve been living under a tech media rock this week, you couldn’t have missed the discussion surrounding the launch of Ello, whose big pitch is that they are an ad-free social network that places user privacy above everything else.

I signed up for the beta what feels like an eternity ago, and finally got a chance to spend some time with it this week.

To be honest, the first impression is underwhelming. Aside from being a design exercise in minimalism and white space, there’s not much to write home about.

The format feels like little bits of the existing networks – the feed of Facebook meets the user behaviour and interaction style of Twitter, with the design aesthetic of some minimalistic Tumblr theme. There are too many unclear functions to navigate. A lot of what I found was through just clicking and hoping.

Finding people you know, or even people you might want to follow, is hard. The search function (when you eventually find it, and when it works) only appears to work in finding usernames, which on a platform that doesn’t enforce any real name usage makes no sense. If you can’t make it easy for me to connect with people, then there’s a fundamental flaw in the concept of a network.

I don’t want to spend too long on features, as there is a long list that they have outlined as being in development, many of which we take for granted in already established networks. But currently, there doesn’t feel there is enough, even for a beta.

So what is it?

Overall though, Ello’s biggest challenge is its proposition. I haven’t shared or posted yet, because I’m not sure what it is I am supposed to share on the platform. There’s no clear idea as to what it is meant to be to users aside from “not Facebook”.

I suppose Facebook itself started in a similar way, but by and large the world got it pretty quickly. To me, Twitter’s proposition is reasonably clear as well, and we can find the people we want to connect with easily, which creates an ease and comfort around sharing.

Ello breaks connections into two groups – “friends” and “noise”, which if I have to draw a comparison is similar to the friend and follow differentiation of Facebook. Each are displayed differently, friends with a more expanded feed, and noise in a compressed snapshot view.

But there is no ability to choose what level I connect on, which feels like it’s at odds with the privacy stance they take on user data as it relates to third parties. Any connections I build may not necessarily be friends, so I am not going to share anything terribly personal. Similarly, if I am having trouble finding and connecting with people of common interest, who is to say that anything I share is worthwhile to anyone, or if I am going to find any useful content in return?

Maybe it’s unfair to judge a platform in its first couple of weeks of beta, but the lack of function and unclear proposition makes it difficult for me to see why I would come back anytime soon. It needs to be more than the anti-Facebook in order to succeed.

The risk it runs at the moment is suffering the same “invite beta syndrome” that G+ saw when it kicked off, collecting a bunch of tech savvy users and creating an environment that general, everyday users can’t find their place in or understand.

PHOTOthomas hawk via Flickr

Where Social Selling Goes Wrong

30 Jun
June 30, 2014

There are differing schools of thought on LinkedIn connections, but I’ve always been of the view that it’s not the number of connections (I’m looking at you people who put in your connection count as part of your name), it’s the quality of them. I’ll admit though, I sometimes accept LinkedIn connections from people I don’t necessarily know or have worked with, when I think their updates might be an interesting read.

This leads, at times to the unsolicited pitch email for business, something that many of us now accept as part of the social process.

Where the process of social selling seems to break down though, is that there are too many assumptions, not enough research, and the misplaced notion that a social connection is a sufficient substitute for building a relationship.

If you’re using social to sell, it shouldn’t be different to any other sales process or social media engagement. It starts with listening.

To illustrate, I got one such email last week from a new connection, which began by saying “I wanted to reach out to you to tell you about our business”.

If an email begins like this, you would hope that the person sending it has done some research into the business you work in. It became obvious in the space of the email that they had not.

A better start to a sales email would be “I wanted to reach out and ask you about your business”. This should be the beginning of a conversation, not a straight out pitch.

It then closed by saying “I would love to make some time to come and discuss how we could help”. Another assumption – that there is something they can help with.

How could they close it better? “If you think you have a need for the service we offer, I’d be happy to discuss further”.

While social media is not new, the notion of social selling is still a grey area, particularly given so much advice is “whatever you do, don’t sell”.

But it can be used to build effective relationships, if there is a genuine need for a product. There are common challenges that many face, but this shouldn’t be a substitute for effort to identify a prospect.

As an example, yesterday I tweeted this to Buffer, who are on of my favourite tools to use list:

Within 10 minutes, I had a rep from HootSuite reply to tell me that HS did support G+ and to reach out if I would like to know more. Perfect, low touch reply – just to let me know there is an option if I want to know more. 

This is the kind of opening you should aim for when social selling.

Listen for the opportunities. Never assume because you know where someone works and what they do that the challenges they face are the same as the last person you sold to.

How about you? Any great (or not so great) social sales pitches or processes you’ve seen?

PHOTO – Michael via Flickr

Where Twitter Needs to Take the Mute Button Next

13 May
May 13, 2014

Twitter released their latest feature tweak to everyone this morning with the Mute button.

Understandably this started the debate around how it differs from just unfollowing someone, with most agreeing that it’s a temporary way to remove someone from the feed. The problem I foresee with temporarily muting is forgetting to turn it back on. Unless it’s a strong connection, then there is every chance it will slip your mind and that person will remain hidden.

Where it needs to evolve to in order to be a truly useful feature is being able to mute at a conversational level. There are a number of apps already doing this (such as TweetBot), but this is only at the mobile level.

Now that we’re talking about a true cross device feature, Twitter has the opportunity to really make an impact on the way people manage their feeds.

As an example, given the strong connection Twitter has around sports and television, being able to mute hashtags or keywords, and being able to set the period which they would be muted for, would minimise the chance of spoilers.

When it comes to breaking news, the feed can be narrowed to a smaller number of outlets to prevent a feed of the same story.

For brands, in my view the mute function’s impact is the same as an unfollow, so being able to mute campaign based activity that uses a specific hashtag or during certain periods of time, and automating the process of when that applies gives a chance of still being a useful voice in the feed.

Photo – dgies