How to Use LinkedIn to Spam Business People

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LinkedInNo, I’m not suggesting you use LinkedIn to spam prospective customers. Rather, I’m saying that it’s being done already with company’s and their affiliates setting up straw men (and, in this case, women) to drive traffic. I’m hoping that someone from LinkedIn will see this post and put some up some new barriers to keep LinkedIn spam to a minimum, before it becomes a real problem.

I’m also suggesting that you think twice about taking the word or recommendation of someone on LinkedIn who has little activity and even fewer connections.

Networker beware.

The Power of Groups (on LinkedIn)

Groups are one of the best places on LinkedIn for networking. Groups can be formed around specific industries, geographical areas, or social interests. Group members can sign up for email digests of the activity at the group, which basically means when you post a discussion topic it ends up being delivered via email to most of the members in the group.

Unfortunately, this has led to a lot of the “communications” from groups being self-promotional. (In the spirit of transparency, I’m as guilty as anyone else here.)

Spamming Groups

However, the other day I noticed nearly the identical promotional posts at two very different groups, from two different people. They were promoting free social media webinars, normally a $149 value.

Here’s one from Linked 2 Leadership:

Linked 2 Leadership

And the other from Maine Entrepreneurs:

Maine EntrepreneursOnly a few words keep these posts from being identical. That’s not so strange; people often post the same message to multiple groups they belong to. What caught my attention is that they were from two different people. I wondered who these two people were, so I checked out their profiles.

Here’s the woman who posted to Linked 2 Leadership:

Ella Campbell

And here’s the woman who posted to Maine Entrepreneurs:

Ketia Davenport

Despite being a member of several groups and associations, Keita has no contacts. You’d think that she’d have at least one contact from her company, Digitags Advertising, right?

Well, I believe that has to do with the fact that Digitags Advertising appears to be a made up company. (If you work for Digitags Advertising please let me know. I believe I can help you with your search engine optimization.)

As for Ella Campbell’s company, the ironically named American Integrity Services, does appear to exist, but has no Web site and the listed telephone number is not in service.

Social Media Magic

And what of the company that’s putting on these Webinars? Following the links took me to Social Media Magic, offering “Turnkey Social Media for Busy Executives.” A quick Twitter search brought up a number of people who seemed to enjoy the Webinars.

However, having seemingly imaginary people promote your social media Webinars seemed a little disingenuous to me, if not a bit spammy. I mean, is that the “turnkey” solutions they are promoting? That’s not to say that the company themselves were behind it. In reading the small print on the site it appears they use affiliates and take a strong stance against spam. I sent an email to support alerting them and asking for a comment for this post, but after a week I still have yet to hear back.

What’s LinkedIn to Do?

Unfortunately, it’s easy to set up a fake personality on LinkedIn, join a bunch of groups, spam those discussion boards, and thus deliver spam directly to the inboxes of desirable groups of business people you can’t reach otherwise.

Perhaps LinkedIn could add some requirements around the number of connections one must have before joining a group, answering questions, or posting to discussion groups. As someone who has set up a number of groups on LinkedIn, I’d love to have the flexibility to require a set number of connections before someone could join my group or post to our discussion forums.

Spam is a Fact of Life

Wherever people gather online, spam is sure to follow. However, with a few administrative changes LinkedIn can make it more difficult and time consuming for spammers to infiltrate the network. After all, if LinkedIn group alerts start delivering more noise than signal most of us will quietly opt out.

Rich Brooks
A real person on LinkedIn

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/sherryfm Scheherazade

    I’m interested in how real people use groups — I haven’t found many that have substantive conversations, instead of self-promotional hype. But fake people using them for shell companies is even worse.

    Maybe LinkedIn should hire American Integrity Solutions to see how to bring more integrity to its listings.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/sherryfm Scheherazade

    I’m interested in how real people use groups — I haven’t found many that have substantive conversations, instead of self-promotional hype. But fake people using them for shell companies is even worse.

    Maybe LinkedIn should hire American Integrity Solutions to see how to bring more integrity to its listings.

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  • http://Life-Cise.com julie goodale

    This is a good post – I hope LI will pay attention.
    Maybe the group admins need to be more attentive. Several of the groups I’m in have been pretty vigilant about spammers. And I’ve left a few groups because they weren’t.

  • http://Life-Cise.com julie goodale

    This is a good post – I hope LI will pay attention.
    Maybe the group admins need to be more attentive. Several of the groups I’m in have been pretty vigilant about spammers. And I’ve left a few groups because they weren’t.

  • Mike Feuti

    If and when LinkedIn group membership is moderated properly, then this wouldn’t be an issue. Personally, I only join groups that are of personal/professional interest and every one of them required an admin to accept my request. Having setup a few groups in the past I had a group that was invite only and the other required my approval. Simple.

    Listen, we don’t need disposable coffee cups cautioning us that our coffee is hot and we wouldn’t have to worry about LinkedIn group spam if the group admins did 1 minute of the work they agreed to do (e.g. they are admins for a reason).

  • Mike Feuti

    If and when LinkedIn group membership is moderated properly, then this wouldn’t be an issue. Personally, I only join groups that are of personal/professional interest and every one of them required an admin to accept my request. Having setup a few groups in the past I had a group that was invite only and the other required my approval. Simple.

    Listen, we don’t need disposable coffee cups cautioning us that our coffee is hot and we wouldn’t have to worry about LinkedIn group spam if the group admins did 1 minute of the work they agreed to do (e.g. they are admins for a reason).

  • Shane Hogan

    Group admins need to manage their groups, but LinkedIn need to improve their functionality also. THere is no facility to report a group discussion as spam to the group owner. This is needed urgently.

  • Shane Hogan

    Group admins need to manage their groups, but LinkedIn need to improve their functionality also. THere is no facility to report a group discussion as spam to the group owner. This is needed urgently.

  • http://www.ianbrodie.com Ian Brodie

    I run a Linkedin group and moderation is quite time consuming – even with a small number of posts. A “mark as spam” button for users to use would be really handy.

    A number of groups I used to regularly read have become useless thanks to becoming filled with spam. And it’s not just from unconnected spam accounts – sometimes it’s from well connected people who just don’t realise that the fantastic offer they think all group members would love to hear about just becomes spam when many, many people are doing it.

    Ian

  • http://www.ianbrodie.com Ian Brodie

    I run a Linkedin group and moderation is quite time consuming – even with a small number of posts. A “mark as spam” button for users to use would be really handy.

    A number of groups I used to regularly read have become useless thanks to becoming filled with spam. And it’s not just from unconnected spam accounts – sometimes it’s from well connected people who just don’t realise that the fantastic offer they think all group members would love to hear about just becomes spam when many, many people are doing it.

    Ian

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