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Cassidy Armbruster2/4/21 10:15 AM7 min read

Spam and Scams on the Rise: How to Detect Them and Protect Your Brand

BrandBastion found a 43.10% increase in spam and scams on brands' social accounts from 2019 to 2020, showing just how big a problem these attacks have become.

Spam and Scam Blog (1)

Most of the online conversations regarding online spam and scams relate to consumer advice and how individuals should protect themselves: create strong passwords, use 2-factor identification, avoid unsolicited links. However, these online attacks go beyond individuals, and a great responsibility falls into your hands as a brand.


Spam and scams in context

Brand Bastion's findings: spam and scams

How can bots ruin my brand?

Tips to detect and prevent spam and scam

  1. Monitor the comments section on your brand's social accounts
  2. Audit your brand's social accounts
  3. Apply to get your brand's Instagram account verified
  4. Contact law enforcement

Spam and scams in context:

  • Porn bots are making their way into the comment sections on brands' social accounts and ads, and even into users' DMs.
  • Online vendors are selling counterfeit goods on social pages and ads, therefore tarnishing ad performance, putting consumers at risk, and decreasing the number of overall legitimate purchases.
  • Fraudulent social media impersonators are cloning businesses by creating mimicked accounts and offering fake promotions and giveaways.
  • Unidentified fake bots and accounts following a brand are detrimental to marketing campaigns, overall engagement, and rankings, even if said brand didn't purchase them or intentionally seek them out.

BrandBastion's findings: spam and scams in 2020

1. Spam and scam comments that included the word "earning" increased by 214% in Q3 and Q4 versus Q1 and Q2.

(BrandBastion, 2020)

BrandBastion analyzes the prevalence of scams and spam across social media on brand accounts. In doing so, we noticed a significant increase in the word earning during Q3 and Q4 of 2020. This statistic paints an interesting picture, as the use of the word "earning" increased at the height of the global health pandemic. Among other reputable sources, the Federal Trade Commission has announced a significant increase in spam and scams related to government money during the pandemic, coronavirus stimulus payment scams, coronavirus checks, and so on. This statistic could be a product of the increase in spam and scams relating to the global pandemic and the economic impact it has caused, as the word "earning" is closely related to the aforementioned topics. Your brand should therefore be ultra-aware of scams throughout this difficult period.

2. On average, out of the total comments brands receive, spam and scams represent 5.5% of total engagement.

(BrandBastion, 2020)

Our research indicates that spam and scams make up a greater percentage of engagement than your brand may be aware of. Attacks on ads, in particular, can easily go unnoticed, yet they impact return on ad spend, diminish brand credibility, and create negative brand associations.

3. The most affected vertical is Platforms and Apps, followed by E-commerce brands on social media.

(BrandBastion, 2020)

Although spammers and scammers don’t play favorites when it comes to attacks, BrandBastion did discover that these two verticals stood out when it came to scams and spam. If your brand falls into one of these categories, you should pay extra attention by monitoring your accounts and taking precautionary measures to avoid attacks on your brand and your customers.

How can bots ruin my brand?

Not all bots are out to get us. For example, chatbots are an innovative automation tool and a way to engage one-on-one with a brand. However, scalper bots, ad fraud bots, and porn bots are an entirely different thing; they are fraudulent, dangerous, and malicious.  

Bots can ruin a brand in more ways than one. For example, Scalper bots are bots that buy products in bulk, particularly after the release of an exclusive product with limited stock or availability. Scalper bots can then sell these products illegally. This puts your brand's reputation at risk, return on investment at risk, and your customers identity and personal information at risk.

Ad fraud bots or scraper bots cost your brand a significant amount of money, as these bots crawl the web and click and/or comment on your advertisements. Without tracking tools, these bots are challenging to detect. Why? Because they mimic the actions of humans. These bots, for example, can trigger remarketing on ad campaigns. Finally, scraper bots also take content from your brand's ads or organic content and use it as their own for malicious or fraudulent activity.

Porn bots damage your brand's identity, often enticing users to click on affiliate links and sites through the comments section of a social page. Followers on your brand accounts might then be led to a site where they are promised to speak with a local when they are, in fact, being led to child pornography or another pornographic site. This type of spam on your brands’ organic content or ads creates negative brand associations, may deter followers, and negatively impacts overall engagement.

Tips to detect and prevent spam and scams:

1. Monitor the comments section on your brand's social accounts

Advanced tracking tools provide your brand the protection it needs to avoid phishing scams, impersonation scams, prize and/or lottery scams, etc. As emphasized, spam and scams are at an all-time high, meaning brands such as yours should be protected. BrandBastion's Moderation + Alerts solution hides spam and scams in your comment sections across ads and organic so that your brand never has to worry about your customers or brand safety being put in danger. 

2. Analyze brand sentiment   

Measuring and monitoring user sentiment is important for your brand's safety and to get a glimpse into what risks your brand is facing. BrandBastion Intelligence platform allows you to do so in real-time to react promptly and be alerted to unusual events or spikes in negative sentiment requiring urgent attention. Discriminatory comments, hate speech, threats, or sensitive brand topics present in the comment sections on ads and organic can be just as detrimental to your brand as scams and spam.

3. Apply to get your brand's Instagram account verified

We are often asked, "how can I get verified on Instagram?" Although BrandBastion can't get your brand verified, we have outlined how you can request verification and why it might be beneficial.

Account verification isn't just about getting your brand into a certain 'crowd.' Account verification on social media can protect your brand by providing social proof and credibility, thus minimizing the likelihood of brand impersonations online. When your account is verified, it's also great for Instagram SEO, boosting your username to the top of search results. This means customers are more likely to be guided to your account than impersonation accounts, fan accounts, etc.

Your brand can apply for account verification from within the app. Only the Instagram app can grant brands and users' account verification. Simply head to the account settings from within the Instagram app, and click request verification. You will hear back within a couple of days or even weeks, and if you are not granted the verified blue badge, you can re-apply after 30 days. Click here for specifics on how to get your account verified on Instagram.

If your brand cannot get verified or you don't feel you have the following quite yet to apply, Instagram recommends that you take precautionary measures to protect your brand by, for example, linking with other social accounts. Beyond brand protection, account linking is a great marketing strategy to expand reach!

4. Contact law enforcement

According to the Federal Trade Commission, which "protects consumers and competition by preventing anticompetitive, deceptive, and unfair business practices through law enforcement, advocacy, and education," online scams are at an all-time high. As of January 12th, 2020, more than 317,000 consumer complaints related to covid involved fraud or identity theft. These scams have taken place in the form of phishing, imposter schemes, and so on. It is important to report serious and threatening scams such as brand impersonation scams.

Once reported, the Federal Trade Commission can investigate the scams' source and educate the public about patterns to look out for and be aware of. When it comes to smaller scams and porn bots that might threaten your reputation, but won't necessarily compromise your business, consider BrandBastion's solutions to keep your brand protected.

Want to know more about brand safety?

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