EXPOSED! LinkedIn Spammers using fake profiles.

Posted on December 9, 2013. Filed under: linkedin advice, News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

3564334635_108d9e7a05_bWe all get spam, I guess it’s just one of those things we have to put up with as we get more active and become more visible on the Internet, LinkedIn is not immune to spammers and I often receive direct messages from people offering me various products and services. Irritating though it is I tend to view these messages as mildly irritating distractions from the ill-informed. What really annoys me is when I receive Spam from people who have not even got the guts to reveal who they really are!

A Tale of Two F’s and a Bunny!

This particular example happened in October when I received the message below;

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this is a message sent directly to me from someone whom I share a group with and not a connection. What got me immediately suspicious was that the individual had spelt her name in a rather unusual way, I figured it was possible to spell Jennifer with two f’s, if somewhat unusual but you will note (below) that the message is signed from ‘Jennifer’ spelt correctly!

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If you had an unusual spelling of a name, surely the last thing you are going to do is make an error and spell it the normal way in a message!

This seemed very suspicious to me so I got interested and investigated further. The message from Jennifer included a link promoting a webinar, that link was as follows;

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At this point it is worth mentioning that Andy Whitehead may have simply outsourced the promotion of his webinar and may not be aware of the unethical methodology employed by his service provider.

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I have investigated ‘Jenniffer’ in some detail and can find no trace of anyone of this name on the internet. I have performed an image search and her profile picture appears to be unique as well (the quality of the photo is not great so I am betting that it is a tight crop of a group picture)

She was (her profile has strangely disappeared recently) a second tier connection via two people so I contacted both of them and asked if they knew her…..neither did!

Jenniffer’s Profile

(more…)

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10 Mistakes that drive other LinkedIn Users mad!

Posted on July 15, 2013. Filed under: linkedin advice | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Frustrated1. Inviting a complete stranger to connect.

Whilst I’m not a fan of LinkedIn’s mantra “only connect with people you know well” it is even worse to invite people with whom you have had no contact. This is the equivalent of going to a networking event and walking around the room shoving your business cards into people’s hands without even saying hello or introducing who you are! The key to successfully growing a network is to always engage in some manner before connecting.

2. Failing to personalise an invitation to connect.

There is nothing worse than receiving an invitation to connect (even from someone you know) that reads “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”. Everyone knows that this is the default message and therefore the person sending it has not bothered to give it any thought or consideration. A personalised message takes literally seconds to write and to not do so is just plain lazy!

3. Profile picture.

It is shocking to see how many people use inappropriate photographs for what is a professional networking site. Your picture is effectively your personal brand logo and is a critical part of your LinkedIn profile, It is almost certainly the first thing people notice and therefore creates that all-important first impression. Your photo should be an up-to-date close-up headshot, period. We do not need to see your partner, kids, pets or a slice of the face of the person next to you who you have attempted to crop out! Do not wear a hat or sunglasses and make sure the quality is clear. Avoid using ridiculous avatars or cartoons, they lack credibility and LinkedIn may suspend your account as this breaches the user agreement . The worst mistake of all however is to not have a profile picture at all, this will result in less profile views and more importantly it significantly damages your authenticity.

4. Anonymous visibility.

This is one privacy setting that everyone should change from the default. You can either be fully visible, largely anonymous (the default setting) or completely anonymous. The default setting makes no sense because you either want people to see that you have viewed their profile or you don’t, tempting their curiosity with a loose description such as “someone in the X function of the Y industry” is pointless! Deciding to be completely anonymous is also a strange decision, this is a networking environment so choosing this setting is effectively the same as going to an off-line event wearing a hoodie and mask! I can accept that there may be a rare occasion where it is clearly commercially unwise to reveal that you have viewed someone’s profile, in which case you can change your settings prior to viewing the profile and then change them back to fully visible again afterwards.

5. Direct selling.

Whilst it could be said that everyone is selling something on LinkedIn (even if it’s just themselves for that next career move), that doesn’t mean that this is a place to directly sell. There is nothing worse than accepting an invitation from somebody only to find that this is swiftly followed by numerous direct messages selling you the latest thing! This may be irritating for the recipient but it is far worse for the sender who is damaging their personal reputation as well as the company they work for and their chances of succeeding to sell anything this way are remote at best.

6. Inappropriate contact having not read somebody’s profile.

This is similar to the above but may not involve selling as such, receiving a direct message informing me about something that is not relevant to what I do or where I am based merely proves that the sender is blindly sending this message to many people without having read their profiles. I often hear from users who are tired of constant approaches by recruiters so they amend their headline to state that they are not interested in job opportunities…..and it doesn’t make the slightest difference, they still get as many approaches!

7. Lack of background information in profile.

We live in an information rich world and we expect to find it easy to gather information about people, places, products etc. When somebody views your profile they are doing so because they want to see more information about you (including your back story). So why would you deny them that opportunity by revealing little about yourself? LinkedIn is not a one way street, if you view somebody’s profile they are likely to view yours and this presents a great opportunity for you to be open and authentic and show them that you are the kind of person that they would wish to do business with. The more you reveal about your background the more likely it is that they will see you have something in common and this can only work in your favour.

8. Inactivity.

This is one of the most common mistakes I come across. Many users sign up, create a basic profile and maybe join a group or two and then…… nothing! This is the equivalent to going to a networking event and sitting in the corner with a cup of tea and not speaking to anyone! LinkedIn is a live and active community of business professionals throughout the world and this presents you with such an exciting opportunity to widen your network, engage with more people and ultimately achieve greater success.

9. Posting links without comment (especially in groups)

This is usually an innocent mistake made by people with the best intentions. They read an article online and decide to share this with their connections and/or fellow group members, the problem is that an article without a comment just becomes noise in a stream that people tend to ignore and the more this happens the more people become disengaged. This can also be as a result of one of the worst things you can do with social media…….. automation! Social media is supposed to be social (strangely enough!) and it is only effective when people talk to each other, not when automated processes fire countless streams of information/articles at people. The solution is very simple, read the article and take a view then post the article with a comment expressing your view and asking for feedback. This works, automation doesn’t.

10. Dodgy Recommendations.

Many online businesses have learnt that customer reviews are an incredibly powerful marketing tool (Amazon, Tripadvisor etc) and LinkedIn provides you with a similar opportunity via recommendations. The problem is that people obtain recommendations from the wrong people. A recommendation will only influence the reader if it is written by somebody that they consider to be credible and credibility comes from you knowing the person well and by them being in a position of authority i.e. a satisfied customer, and ex-boss etc. Too many recommendations on LinkedIn are from colleagues, family members or worst of all, complete strangers! One dodgy recommendation can ruin a profile, so be careful to only seek testimonials from the right people.

What other LinkedIn behaviours drive you mad?  please feel free to comment below.

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The Great LinkedIn SWAM!

Posted on May 9, 2013. Filed under: linkedin advice, News | Tags: , , |

LinkedIn groups and other online forums are full of it, LinkedIn users are outraged and LinkedIn Group Managers are tearing their hair out….so what is all the fuss about this new thing called SWAM?

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For those of you who haven’t come across it yet, SWAM stands for ‘Site Wide Auto Moderation’ a relatively new LinkedIn feature designed to block spammers from LinkedIn groups.
Here is how it works;
A member of a group behaves in such a way that the manager of that group decides to ‘block & delete’ them from their group. This decision is purely made by the manager/owner of that group and LinkedIn are not involved in any way.
The result of this action is that the blocked individual is automatically moderated in every other group of which they are a member (up to 49). Moderated simply means that every post (creation of discussion, comment, promotion or job post) has to be approved by the manager of the group before it is published.
LinkedIn brought in this function to help group managers deal with the ever-increasing amount of spammers infiltrating their groups. The idea was that a group manager would only delete and block someone they believed to be a genuine spammer and this would therefore be doing a favour to every other group manager who had been unfortunate enough to have attracted the said individual as a member.
I think LinkedIn genuinely thought this would be widely welcomed by everyone (except those nasty spammers) but it has caused a massive outcry from just about everyone.
The problem is that this decision is based on the following assumptions;

  1. All group managers are responsible, credible members of the LinkedIn community.
  2. The definition of spam is uniform.

Clearly these assumptions are completely wrong and this has been the route of the problem. I have heard countless examples of professional, credible individuals who have never even considered spamming anyone getting hit by SWAM. This could be for a variety of reasons;

  • They have had a disagreement with the manager of a group
  • They have had a public ‘falling out’ with another member of a group (groups are after all debating forums)
  • The manager of a group blocked & deleted them by accident
  • The manager of a group is a competitor
  • The manager had a bad day and decided to ‘cull’ some members to make themselves feel better!!

Quite often the reason someone gets banned from a group is because they continually post links to articles, this is very annoying for most group managers who have set up their group to be a discussion forum and links without commentary to stimulate debate just clog up the discussion timeline and are considered spam by many managers. This problem however has largely been created by LinkedIn themselves with their ‘Share on LinkedIn’ buttons that appear in most internet articles, these buttons allow the reader to ‘share’ the article to multiple groups and this is often the cause of the problem.
Innocent group members are suddenly finding they are effectively subject to some gagging order in all of their groups, if they are a member of many groups it can even take them some time to figure out which group they have been deleted from!

To make the situation worse, it is not easy to get yourself ‘de-SWAMed’ LinkedIn customer services want nothing to do with it and advise contacting every group manager individually and ‘pleading your case’ to get the moderation lifted. The problem is that the group manager may well believe that there is ‘no smoke without fire’ and decide to ignore your appeal (this seems to be the most common response).

Interestingly some of the most vocal opponents of SWAM are the group managers themselves! The result of SWAM to decent, credible group managers is an increased workload (significant increases in moderation) and more hassle from disgruntled members asking them to lift their moderation status.

It seems that no-one is happy.

So what do LinkedIn have to say about it?
………Nothing!
So far there has been a wall of silence from LinkedIn on this matter, despite the deafening volume of protest.

So come on LinkedIn, its time to eat some humble pie and accept this was a well-meaning but ill-judged action.
Nobody is suggesting we should just accept spam and everyone wants to find a solution but SWAM is clearly a very blunt edged sword that is doing far more harm than good.
In the meantime I would suggest everyone is extra careful with their behaviour in groups….oh and steer well clear of groups managed by your competitors!

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The Mystery of the Anonymous LinkedIn Spammer!

Posted on June 15, 2012. Filed under: linkedin advice, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

I’m stumped!

I wonder if you can help. I have been spending too much time trying to figure out this mystery on my own and I need your help to solve it.

I hate spamming on LinkedIn, I don’t mind receiving the odd promotional message from a connection, after all I agreed to connect with them and if they overdo it I will just disconnect. The same goes for group members, I can either leave the group or report them to the group owner/manager. Spammers are often simply those who are desperate to win more business and just havent thought through the consequence of their actions, you see on LinkedIn they can’t really hide because if they send me spam I can report them and (most importantly) I can see who they are and where they work – On LinkedIn you are visible so bad behaviour = bad reputation (as it should).

But this week I received the following message;

The link is to a video selling some amazing investment in stocks which probably don’t even exist! I am not connected to the mysterious Mr Lee nor do I share a group with him (despite what the message says) because when I click on his name to reveal his true identity this is what I see;

So how can this happen? The only way you can receive a direct message from someone on LinkedIn is one of the following

  • They are a connection (1st tier)
  • You share a group with them
  • They send an Inmail message to you

This is not an Inmail, they look different to this and give you the option of reporting it as spam and grading it as inappropriate (and they appear on your home page as well as your inbox).

Am I missing something here?

If I’m not then this is either some kind of glitch or a worrying new feature/workaround. To be able to send someone a message and not allow them to see your profile is totally wrong, it means you are not accountable for your actions and your reputation is not damaged through this unacceptable behaviour.

Any help in solving this mystery would be most appreciated…..over to you

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