- Posted August 28, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Facebook "farming" Scams. Preying on your sympathy
Viral marketing carries an immense amount of weight for web marketing. Ever since social networks became popular, the need to engage websites to the social network's activity has become a must-have. Even if it means to spread the wrong information just to get the attention of fans and followers and eventually direct them to the website of interest. This gave birth to a wave of "Missing Persons" ads in Facebook and other social networks. But are they really missing? Do they exist? Or are they simply fabricated stories to take advantage of people's sympathies and collect their traffic?
Why is traffic so important?
Every business must market their products and services one way or another. The days of door to door are long gone and quite frankly, they were very bothersome. Marketers needed a better way to spread the word. And with that, print marketing became popular. However, even prints were limited to how many people it was given to and whether they had any interest in what it was given to them. Most people turned around and threw the papers in the trash.
With the increasing computer literacy and the birth of Search Engine Optimization, the way business marketed their business took a wide turn. Now, businesses can make their websites visible in Google when the interested visitor is searching for their product. But ranking in the first pages of Google is not easy. You must first build a favorable reputation so that Google credits you as a reliable source of information. This comes with many factors, including backlinking, explained more in depth here.
Backlinking, in laymen terms, is the way Google sees other websites referring to yours. In Google's eyes, this means..."If they are referring you, then you must be a great source". Social networks are a great venue for backlinks.
How is using fake missing persons ads in Facebook helping increase SEO?
Social networks are a community of friendship. Most importantly, is a great place to spread information and with the help of the share button, it travels form a circle of friends to another and to another and so on. This can happen with a funny picture or MEME, a sad story, latest news, and case in point, missing persons ads.
The problem is, knowing how sympathetic people will be to a missing persons case, some SEO viral schemes consists of fabricating false missing persons ads. They spread like wild fire, and in many cases, a link is included that leads to a non-related website.
This form of false traffic is not yet controlled and penalized by Google. It is almost impossible to detect the true identity and relationship between the ad and the website content in question.
What to do?
Simply educate yourself in the missing person case in question. Please, by all means, share it and contribute, but not without making a little research first. These entities are more often than not, implanting phishing bugs in the code that will read information you are bringing along with the click. This can result in a series of problem from unwanted emails to identity theft.
Share away, but be sure to know its organization and purpose first. Other than that, stay away from the share and like button. It is not as safe as you'd think.