Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Businesses, You're Already on Foursquare. Why Not Engage?

Working on a social media proposal for a bank today, I mentioned Foursquare in passing while concentrating on how they could leverage other platforms such a YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Start with the basics.

Then, after reading this great post, I looked the client up on Foursquare and found that one of their branches was indeed there, with 2 visitors, each with about 20 friends. Which drives home the oft-quoted truism that companies already are in the social media space, whether they are participating or not. So why not join the conversation?

There's nothing inherently exciting or interesting about a neighborhood bank branch, yet with no effort on the part of the client, Foursquare had generated 42 impressions for them. How many more people could they reach with some effort? How easy would it be to tie some messaging to those impressions?

Think about how targeted and qualified the audience is. People who are checking in at the bank on Foursquare are already clients, who might be interested in other financial products. Their friends are most likely local, too, and are excellent potential customers.

Why not have a Foursquare promotion with a small giveaway on first check-in, say, a pen... imprinted with Interest Checking - No Fees! It's highly likely that this will generate comments specifically mentioning the Interest Checking pen,  and if the promotion gets even 30 more unique visitors checking in from Foursquare, with 20 friends apiece, that's 672 qualified potential customers who get the Interest Checking message.

And that's just one idea.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Yahoo Email Hack Strikes Again

 Update on my Yahoo email: It got hacked again, June 20 around 10pm. I had deleted my contacts after the first hack, so apparently only one spam email was sent, to myself, from myself. I would have gotten some bounce messages like last time otherwise. The spam was for Viagra. I was again able to log in and change the password.

Here's my original blog post for the back story on my Yahoo email hack ordeal.

Interestingly, after the first hack I changed my password to a 14 character mouthful of gravel from strongpasswordgenerator.com. There is no way any password program could have cracked that password. Obviously there are security issues at Yahoo. Read more...

Monday, June 14, 2010

In Which My Yahoo Email Gets Hacked

My Yahoo email account got hacked, and Viagra spam was sent to all my contacts. Even the ones who don't need it.

I knew right away, because I am one of my own contacts, so I sent myself spam, plus got some bounced email notices in my inbox. I was able to log into Yahoo with my old password, and changed the password, and the Yahoo password recovery email address.

Then I set about changing all my passwords everywhere online, since the hacked account had my favorite password attached to it, as well as my favorite username. Dumb, dumb, dumb to use same username and password everywhere, I know! BTW, the password was pretty strong, but not super strong. This took 9 hours! I changed usernames where possible, passwords everywhere (using http://strongpasswordgenerator.com/) and linked online accounts to my gmail account, not yahoo email. Read more...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Evolution of Spam in the Twitter Ecosystem

Like hospital staph infections, spam evolves in response to our efforts to recognize and control it.

2009 saw the rise and fall of the Twitter porn bot. If y'all remember, this was the hot avatar with a handle along the lines of "@amber1988". The formula was girl's name followed by the year that she would be born in to be young and attractive. Then "she" would follow you, and if you clicked on the profile, there's be just one tweet linking to what was undoubtedly a heinous porn site.

Really, I never clicked!

At the time, in frustration I tweeted, "I'm going to create a profile called @mildred1933 and see who follows me." At least I made myself chuckle!

Twitter cracked down on this, and pretty soon I found the profiles pulled even before I could click on them to block. Good job, Twitter!

The latest twist on twitter spam are the affiliate marketing linkbots.

There are two kinds: Mr. Inspirational Quote and Ms. Newsfeed. Both often use avatars that include a child in the photo (aww, he's a Dad!). The profile description is brief and generic, or nonexistent. Often something about liking to "help people". Right.

Anyway, their MO is this. Their twitter feed contains about 10 or so inspirational quotes, or 10 breaking news stories with links, followed by the affiliate marketing link that the bot wants you to click on to line their pockets. I say affiliate marketing link because that is the best case scenario. At best it's a spam link, at worst, it may contain malware and cross-site scripting nonsense.

Really, I've never clicked!

So when you go to the profile to decide whether to follow back, it may look like a legitimate twitter user, if you don't scroll down and notice that every 10th tweet is the same spammy link.

They set this up by hooking up a Google news feed (or feed of quotes) to HootSuite, inserting the spam link at intervals. One of my LinkedIn Social Media group discussions contained a detailed how-to. Thankfully, other members of the group challenged the ethics and effectiveness of this tactic.

Recently, there was a spate of bot profiles created, often based in Mumbai, with the same description: "Soccer mom who loves to dance the salsa." Oh. You're a Soccer Mom. Well, in that case, I am more than willing to let you feed me a garbage queue of spam links! I got followed by two of these in one day, as did many other twitter users who tweeted, "Hey, what's with all the soccer moms?"

Amazingly, Twitter has not disabled the accounts. Amazingly, the account pictured above has 12,400 followers and has tweeted close to 2,000 spammy links.

C'mon, @twitter, shut it down. And people, wise up and hit "block and report for spam" when you see this stuff.