Thanks to the low barrier to entry and the propensity for "black hat" Internet marketers to stop at nothing to make money online, any social network that has significant traction is going to be a magnet for spam and brandjacking. Pinterest is the latest to suffer from hackers, joining Twitter and Facebook.
There are 2 main ways spammers infiltrate social networks:
Squatting Creating accounts in the name of a person or brand, unauthorized. These accounts may be used to distribute affiliate links for the brand in question, or just general spam links.
Link Spamming Hacking a brand's account to distribute links, or just dropping links on Facebook brand pages and the like.
Image credit SocialTimes
Here's an example of the garbage appearing on Pinterest. Spammer pins bogus offer:
If you click on the link to "get a free gift card," you are instructed to repin the image to access the deal, only to find the offer has sold out, but there are more offers to be claimed -- provided you fill out the questionnaire, of course.
Social spam hurts users and brands, as web users may not understand the spamming is not being performed by the brand itself. So what can you do about it? David Naffziger from BrandVerity shared some tips at the Affiliate Management Days conference:
1. Educate your social media team
Train your social media managers to be diligent in reviewing comments, and to be proactive in searching for fake accounts and coupon offers. One trick is to use the command "site:facebook.com [your brand name here] coupons" in Google.
2. Clearly spell out the rules for affiliates in your terms and conditions
Make it clear that affiliates aren’t allowed to post affiliate links on official social media brand pages, or to pose as your brand.
I'll add, don't forget to protect your account from hackers by creating a strong password.