Thursday, September 15, 2011

The FTC May Soon Crack Down On Social Media Credential Fraud

The FTC may soon crack down on Social Media Credential Fraud because it is a growing problem that will drastically harm monetization opportunities in the social media industry. Social Media Credential Fraud may occur when someone utilizes social media to create a false impression that they are an expert in their profession for commercial gain. Under the FTC's Advertising Regulations, it is crystal clear that engaging in unfair or deceptive acts or practices is unlawful.

This past summer the FTC sought input for revising its guidance to business about disclosures for online advertising. I submitted a comment requesting that the FTC take action against those who are practicing Social Media Credential Fraud.

On April 18, 2011, I stated that non-practicing attorney/self-described social media evangelist Adrian Dayton has a Twitter account that appears to indicate that he has a rock star like Twitter following to follower ratio. In this post, I discussed how Mr. Dayton had previously talked about why he un-followed 47,000 people on Twitter. The reason he gave for un-following almost 50,000 people went something along the lines he no longer could focus on new followers or qualified prospects because they were lost in the noise.

At that time I stated: "Having to follow at least 54,533 people in order to receive only 41,026 followers in return is not very "expert like." Mr. Dayton's Twitter activity demonstrates that he is a social media expert at one thing: following tens of thousands of people on Twitter and un-following tens of thousands of people on Twitter. That is it."

On January 13, 2011, Mr. Dayton was following 4,417 and had 41,049 followers.



On September 13, 2011, Mr. Dayton was following 8,613 but only had 41,203 followers in return.



During an 8 month period, it appears that Mr. Dayton increased the number of people he followed on Twitter from 4,417 to 8,613 (an increase of 4,196). However, during this time frame it appears that Mr. Dayton's number of followers has only gone up from 41,049 to 41,203. This is a net plus of a paltry 154 new followers. Are these the numbers of a bona fide social media strategist or evangelist?

Why would Mr. Dayton want to follow 4,000+ more people when he previously stated that he un-followed thousands of people because [he] was following so many people that [his] Twitter stream was filled with content that was at best irrelevant and at worse distracting? Could part of the answer be that Mr. Dayton is trying to keep at least 41,000 followers?

If you divide 4,196 by 154 it appears that Mr. Dayton may need to follow 27.25 people before 1 person will follow him in return. If you multiply 41,203 by 27.25 that equals 1,122,782. Therefore, it is possible that Mr. Dayton has had to follow 1 million plus people in order to receive only 41,000+ followers in return. Since Mr. Dayton's Twitter popularity is presumably at an all-time high now he may have previously needed to follow 30, 40, or 50 people before 1 person followed him back.

As I stated on April 18, 2011, I challenge Mr. Dayton to dispute my findings. If I was previously wrong Mr. Dayton would have publicly disputed me and/or threatened to sue me in the same manner that it appears he previously threatened lawyer Brian Tannebaum who pointed out some issues with Mr. Dayton's background.

Therefore, I want to reiterate, caveat emptor when hiring "experts". Don't be a sucker. At least perform a Google search to learn more about an "expert's" credentials. Just because someone calls himself/herself an expert and/or has a social media profile that appears "expert like" that does not make it so. As Malcolm Gladwell states, it takes at least 10,000 hours to master a craft.

To learn how to avoid violating the FTC Advertising Regulations you may contact me at www.shearlaw.com.

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