I have written in the past about various social media scams such as the Facebook Like Farming Scam and how prevalent they are. These scams can be used for financial theft, identity theft or for promoting a product or service that you did not know that you were promoting and I have noticed a new social media scam that is becoming very popular. This new scam is clever as it not used to defraud you financially or steal your identity it is used to gain new followers via Facebook or Twitter.
When it comes to promoting your company, product or service social media is the cheapest and easiest way to do it and the amount of favourites, followers, likes, retweets and shares received is a popular metric used to show how successful you are. A quick and easy to get followers, likes, retweets and shares is to offer a prize and a winner is chosen from someone who follows, likes, or retweets the competition details.
Most competitions have terms & conditions that you have to abide by when entering, such as precluding friends and family of the prize sponsor or organiser of the contest from entering the contest and offering a cash alternative instead. There are no similar terms & conditions when a contest is held via social media, just terms & conditions devised by whoever is holding the competition, and these terms & conditions are not always adhered to and that is when the scam occurs. There is always a closing date for the competition, after which the winner is chosen and the prize on offer is given to someone who has not followed, liked or retweeted the competition or who has done so after the competitions closing date.
The person who wins the competition, wins a prize that does not exist hence the reason why the winner is someone who has not adhered to the terms & conditions of the competition. Twitter have not banned follow and retweet competitions and their guidelines on them can be found here. Facebook have outlawed like and share competitions but they still occur, and a recent like and share competition which you can see below became a big new story when the winner of the prize did not have a Facebook account.
It looked very much like an episode of Father Ted, the one where Ted tried to rig the car raffle.
Another similar contest was run on Twitter a few weeks ago, with an iPhone 6 up for grabs if you followed the Twitter account that was offering the iPhone 6 and retweeted their tweet about winning the iPhone 6. The person who won the iPhone only set up their Twitter account after they won, and the account now no longer exists. There was a large up roar on Twitter with one prominent user calling them a liar and a cheat who has not handed out iPhone prizes and if I’m wrong, they’ll sue me.
By taking part in these competitions, you are allowing them to being run again and again, and you are also allowing the organisers to gain more followers illegally. If your business revenue is partly based on the amount of followers, likes and shares you have how can you compete with competitors that are cheating to gain followers, likes and shares. Any share and like contest on Facebook is illegal, so if you spot any don’t take part, sadly it’s not as easy to spot these contests on Twitter, but if the contest is mentioned on their website and blog then it is more likely to be genuine.