Cybersecurity experts are warning that social media scams are surging, and businesses are the latest target.
Across the nation, companies large and small are seeing their direct messages, or DMs, filled with messages from cybercriminals. Some look like spam; other messages look authentic.
DON’T click on any links and DON’T open any attachments that arrive via social media. Doing so could load dangerous viruses or malware onto your computer, bringing cybercriminals through your company’s firewall and onto your network.
The popular social media platforms used by businesses – including Meta’s Facebook Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and X, formerly known as Twitter – offer two opportunities for social media users to connect:
- Direct messages: DMs have their own inbox that lives within a social media website or app. Followers and non-followers can send messages directly to a business or organization.
- Post comments: Most businesses and nonprofits have “public” pages, which allows anyone to see and comment on posts.
Social media is a terrific tool that allows customers, fans and prospective employees to connect directly with large and small businesses. Donors and volunteers also use social media to stay in touch with nonprofits and charitable causes.
Unfortunately, cybercriminals also recognize that social media offers a direct path of communication with businesses. That’s why social media scams, as well as social media spam, are on the rise. Below is a little background about social media scams and spam, as well as tips to outsmart cybercriminals.
A history of spam
Social media spam is not the first form of unwanted communication. In fact, nearly every form of communication has its own type of spam.
- U.S. mail: Handwritten letters and birthday cards, supermarket flyers and department store catalogs once filled our mailboxes. Businesses also mailed coupons, brochures and promotions to current and prospective customers. The term “junk mail” arose once companies started mass mailings to entire cities. Smart businesses with a strategic approach to marketing can control printing and distribution costs by focusing on target communities or even specific households based on demographic research.
- Telephone: For nearly 150 years, people have used the telephone to call family and friends, as well as make doctor appointments, speak with financial advisors and update insurance policies. Telemarketing allows businesses to personally connect with potential customers, but that shifted to an abundance of robocalls and ultimately led the FCC to create the Do Not Call Registry.
- Texting: Not all marketing and advertising needs graphics or visuals. Texting provides businesses with simple word-based, direct communication about sales, new products or promotions. Telemarketers are texting because it’s quick and does not require lengthy conversations. However, political texts and other spam can fill inboxes with unwanted messages.
- Email: Businesses can use email templates in the same manner as advertisements or circulates. Emails are effective because a recipient can open the message immediately, later that day or the following weekend, and the content is still relevant. Scammers recognize that consumers trust these emails, and they are creating fake messages pretending to be from a business. These messages look legitimate, complete with the company logo, colors and disclaimers. Beware: clicking a link or downloading a document from these emails can install malware or tracking software.
One of Priority Marketing’s client partners, John Joyce of CRS Technology Consultants, recently appeared on ABC7 to discuss the impact of artificial intelligence on email spam and email scams.
Common social media scams
Friendster and MySpace were the prominent social media platforms in the early 2000s, offering people a great way to connect with friends and family. Other platforms soon followed. Today, Facebook, YouTube and WhatsApp count their followers in the billions.
Social media scams are nearly as old as social media itself. Initially, spam came in the form of fake accounts seeking to connect. Then, comments on posts touted an individual’s ability to make $1,000 a day or more, saying to click the link.
Today, scammers are creating accounts that appear to be people you know, pictures and all. If you’re already connected on social media, though, do not connect with this duplicate account; report it to the social media platform. Scammers are using software to scan social media for posts about events or games, then creating what appears to be a livestream link allowing others to watch for free. That also is spam.
All social media platforms recognize that spam is a problem. YouTube defines spam as “irrelevant or unsolicited messages sent over the Internet.” The platform uses software to detect potential spam in addition to relying on users to report spam. Other platforms also address social media spam, including Facebook and X (Twitter):
Facebook: Avoid Spam and Scams
X (Twitter): Platform Manipulation and Spam Policy
Tips for safe social media
Businesses and organizations can maintain safe, secure social media channels by following a few simple tips:
- Do not click on any links or open any documents that arrive via direct message or within comments on a post.
- Do not believe any messages from senders claiming to have your account information. Oftentimes, they will demand money or gift cards, but do not actually have your password.
- Update social media passwords regularly. Make sure passwords are complex and have nothing to do with business operations. Never reuse a password.
- Implement multi-factor authentication: MFAs offer an added layer of protection to ensure that authorized users are the only ones allowed to access a business’ page.
- Block and report all users that post spam: Blocking spammers helps minimize spam for all social media users.
Social media management
Many businesses and organizations partner with firms offering professional social media management services. That helps keep their accounts secure and minimizes spam while also ensuring social media channels are filled with engaging content.
Priority Marketing’s suite of social media marketing services includes strategic consulting, content development, demographic research, profile development, competitive analysis and social media monitoring. The firm also offers social media monitoring, a service that includes daily or weekly reviews of comments, direct messages and other activity on social media channels.
Need a social media manager to take the lead on your channels? Please give us a call today at 239-267-2638 or send an email to LetsTalk@PriorityMarketing.com.