Does Anybody Actually Fall for This These Days?

Written: 27-Jan-2014 | | Filed under: Social Media

Just came across this email in my spam folder. (You can find some of the most interesting — cough, cough — stuff lurking in that old spam folder sometimes!) Read it and weep (or laugh, your choice):

My name is [redacted], and I am a professional social media manager.
I have something to offer that might interest you.
In today’s world, interaction between companies and their potential and existing customers is carried out through social media.
I offer what follows: What I suggest is to raise the ranking of your website [redacted] on the most popular social networks by placing more than 700 likes using Facebook accounts.
The high rating will help increase the credibility of your website and of the services which you offer.
These indicators (Facebook Likes) will be visible on your website. If you have not installed Facebook Like count button on your website – I can help you install it!
After my work is finished, the Facebook Share Count Button will confirm a high ranking of your site, which will be noticed and appreciated by your visitors, and they will also be able to recommend your site to their friends on these social network.
For this offer, you won’t even need a Facebook account.
The cost of the service is only – $ 49. I work without pre-payment. Payment is carried out after all the work is done.
You pay only once and all Facebook Likes are placed permanently.

Seriously?

A couple of points:

  • Social media professionals are in great demand these days. I am immediately suspicious of one who claims to be a “professional” but who is cold-emailing me trying to drum up business. If he’s any good at all, why isn’t he already swamped with customers?
  • Because true social media professionals are in demand, the good ones charge accordingly. $49 seems awfully cheap. We seem to be experiencing one of those “if it seems too good to be true…” moments.
  • In this case, the domain he’s offering to promote actually belongs to a subsidiary company that went out of business at least five years ago. Since then, the “website” has been a single page placeholder, telling folks the company is not currently operating. Promoting something like that would be ridiculous. Clearly, he has never even looked at the “business website” he plans to promote. How much of a “professional” can this dude be?
  • Seriously. More than 700 likes? Placed permanently? How naive does he think we are? Look, there’s pretty much a zero possibility that these likes will come from legitimate Facebook profiles. Which means they’ll be “permanent” only as long as Facebook doesn’t detect his little scam and disable all the accounts in question. And in any case, people are not necessarily going to be impressed (or even particularly notice) the sheer number of likes a page has. What they might notice is if one or more of their actual friends has liked something. (And even then, it’s not a guarantee.) An obviously phony profile from somebody they’ve never heard of? Not so much. Not even 700 phony profiles.

Same Old, Same Old

This is just the latest evolution of the old link-scheme scams, where the bozos would offer to get you thousands of links on their “private network.” Google figured those out and shut them down, so now they’ve moved on to selling phony Facebook likes instead. It’s the same scam, just a different neighborhood.

The problem with the link schemes is that when the link network gets taken down, in many cases, it takes with it the small business sites that bought in to the scam. Google has no way of knowing if you were duped or if you walked in with your eyes wide open, knowing you were cheating the algorithm. And they’ll do anything they have to do to protect their brand, including knocking hundreds or even thousands of business websites waaaay down in the rankings because of their participation in an unnatural link scheme.

In a lot of cases, the link spammers tell their “marks” that their private network is so well concealed Google will never figure it out. They brag about all the “security measures” they have in place to ensure the search engines are fooled. But the folks at Google are not dumb, not by a long shot. They’re a lot smarter than the scammers give them credit for — a lot smarter than the scammers, period. And unfortunately, it’s the business websites that get caught in the crossfire.

Sadly, the scammers are like cockroaches. It’s almost impossible to get rid of them for good. As soon as they get driven out of one scam, they’re on to the next. Link schemes aren’t working so well? Let’s move on to Facebook.

But, you know? I don’t think the gang at Facebook is any dumber than the gang at Google.

Buyer, beware.

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