Friday, April 8, 2011

Will Your Social Media Expert's Advice Violate the FTC Advertising Regulations Part II

An idea attributed to Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels goes something along the lines, if you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually believe it. Unfortunately, there are some people who practice this philosophy in the social media marketing world.

Last week, I wrote about a self-described social media marketing expert ("Expert #1) who actively follows tens of thousands of people and then once he receives a follow back he un-follows them in order to increase his followers to following ratio so it looks like he is a rock star or professional athlete. This practice is known as Social Media Credential Fraud.

On January 13, 2011, this "social media expert" was following 4,417 people and had 41,049 followers. On April 1, 2011, this self-described social media marketing expert was following 7,000 people and had 41,009 followers. As of this writing, he is following 7,523 people and has only 41,040 followers. Therefore, in a week he has followed 523 more people and obtained only 31 followers in return. In almost 3 months, he has followed 3,106 more people and lost 9 followers. His Return on Follow (ROF) is not what I would call "expert like". If you extrapolate these findings over a year you may realize the depth of this deception.

There is another excellent example of Social Media Credential Fraud that I would like to share because a friend of mine recently told me I should follow another self described social media expert. As soon as I saw the name of this person I said to myself I think this person has played the "I will Follow You And As Soon As You Follow Me Back I Will Un-follow You" game with me.

I was right. On 2/16/10, another self described social media marketing expert, "Expert #2," had the following stats: 11,290 followers; and following 11,390. Therefore, he had to follow 100 more people than were following him back. On 6/5/2010, "Expert#2's stats were: 12,277 followers; and 12,748 following. He had to follow 471 more people than were following him back. As of this writing, "Expert #2's stats are: 14,424 followers, and 5,243 following. All of a sudden, "Expert #2" found his social media wings.

Expert #2 now has a Twitter account that he feels better reflects his persona so it may enable him to sell social media marketing services. Expert #2 recently advertised to law firms, "Blogging and Social Media Package Only $1,800 Per Month" and "This program has a value of $4,000 per month!" and "P.P.S. We only have room for 10 new clients in this program at this low price." "Expert #2's social media assistant also plays the "I will Follow You And As Soon As You Follow Me Back I Will Un-follow You" game. On 5/27/10, Expert #2's social media assistant's stats were: 9,458 followers, and 9,588 following. As of this writing, the social media assistant's stats are: 10,252 followers, and 5,535 following. What a great turnaround. How did this happen?

Oh, I forgot to tell you that Expert #1 and Expert #2 are good friends. How do I know this? Expert #1 has Tweeted that they are are good friends. Therefore, are they sharing with each other tips on how to perpetrate Social Media Credential Fraud?

To learn how to avoid violating the FTC Advertising Regulations you may contact me at

Copyright 2011 by the Law Office of Bradley S. Shear, LLC. All rights reserved.

ALM's Social Media Risks and Rewards Conference in San Francisco

ALM is hosting a conference focused on the legal risks inherent with Social Media. The conference will be held on April 12, 2011 at the Marines' Memorial Club & Hotel in San Francisco, CA. I have attended several of ALM's Social Media conferences and each time they have covered very timely topics and have had outstanding faculty.

Some of the topics that will be covered next week include: user generated content, brand protection, ethical issues, and privacy issues that social media users and content providers confront. To learn more about the conference here is the link.

[Full Disclosure-Shear on Social Media Law is part of ALM's Blog Network]

Copyright 2011 by the Law Office of Bradley S. Shear, LLC. All rights reserved.