Guest contribution by Dana Flannery Small Business SEO and Social Media Consultant. Dana’s six years in digital marketing has taught her to identify a Facebook scammer from a mile off. She’s offered to share her knowledge to help protect our business community.

Facebook scammers used to simply make false promises about profits/ donations / competitions and the savvy user learned to spot their scams a mile off. But the new generation of Facebook Scammer is targeting small business owners and their scams will cost you a whole lot more than a like!

The social media management scammer
This is someone who sells social media marketing services on Facebook. Chances are they had their own small biz back in the day and built up a pretty good Facebook following, but now they’ve reinvented themselves as a marketer. First alarm bell: If you did so well with your marketing, why don’t you have your small business anymore? The thing is, growing a Facebook business page is one thing, converting it to sales is a whole other job. That is the ACTUAL job of a social media marketer. Having 100,000 fans doesn’t mean a thing if you can’t monetise them. A pro-Social Media Marketer will be talking in terms of conversion tactics and cost of sale, not likes and reach.

How to identify this Facebook scammer:

  • Ask about their Facebook-driven sales
  • Ask for actual Google Analytics data on social performance and conversion attribution
  • Talk to them about tactics for your kind of business
  • Set clear KPIs and ask them for the tactics they’ll use to hit them

The big fat Facebook liar
If you’re about to invest in a business you’ve found on Facebook, you need to be sure that the seller is everything s/he claims to be. It’s easy to change your name on Facebook and create a new identity for yourself, reworking your real life into an idealised life is de regur for plenty of Facebook users but when it comes to business on Facebook, it can have very serious consequences. A “Facebook expert” selling you a “Facebook opportunity” needs to be checked thoroughly.

How to identify this Facebook scammer:

  • Check their Linkedin Page to be sure it’s consistent with what they’ve told you.
  • If it’s a serious amount you’re investing, ring the employers and confirm what they say.
  • When you’ve crossed checked do their name and additional details match up?
  • Check the length of their ABN registration and how long they’ve been registered for GST.
  • Ask in business groups for tips about buying from them. If you’ve suddenly got 50 private messages warning you – beware
  • If it looks like an MLM business, markets using hard sell techniques and is one of hundreds of MLM businesses selling in that niche, really, think very, very hard about whether it’s a good idea to invest or not!

The fake page flipper:
Buying Facebook pages is technically against the Facebook terms of service and if anything goes wrong, you haven’t a legal leg to stand on! In saying that, Facebook page flipping is a hot business and one that has ethical sellers, and not so ethical sellers.

Basically, you’re buying a well-established Facebook page with tens of thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of fans. The idea is to rebrand it with your business and then have an instant leads funnel.

There are three ways to flip a Facebook page:

The idea is to rebrand it with your business and then have an instant leads funnel. There are three ways to flip a Facebook page:

Business Driven. An established business has worked very hard to build up highly targeted and engaged page fans. This business was talking to your ideal customer but is no longer in need of their Facebook page (there are various reasons for this – mostly that Facebook can be a real jerk!) This is the ideal page to buy. It’s good to go, highly qualified and if it’s in the right niche, most likely to send you sales leads.

Community Driven. A large community or business owner segments off part of its audience and then gives them incentive to like a new page. They own a community of hundreds of thousands of fans. They target posts to one segment (say all the women in Melbourne) and offer them an incentive to go like a new page. Once tens of thousands of women have liked the page, they sell it to a Melbourne based business that targets women.

This can be worthwhile buying provided you can make sure that the page is both engaged and targeting your ideal market. Remember that the moment that flipper sells you the page, you’re on your own and you will not be able to rely on them to send you new fans. You need to be ready to step up and run the page well from the get-go. Chances are this audience will be raised on funny pictures and cute kittens. Ask the seller to demonstrate engagement on promotional articles before you buy – or your brand new (and expensive) audience may jump ship the minute you take over.

Scammer Driven. It takes about fifteen minutes to set up a Facebook page and about $200 to fill it with 10,000 fake fans. These “fans” are profiles set up by computers with “scraped” images from the internet as profile pictures. These “likes” are sold in bundles of 1000 though dodgy freelance sites. If you see a Facebook page for sale that has 100,000 fans but no engagement at all, this is probably a scammer driven page. Run. Run screaming. Don’t pass go. Don’t give them your credit card number.

The Facebook jerk who wants to work with you:
There are so many impressive people who are actually total jerks on social media. The culture of business on Facebook is one of generosity, authenticity and friendliness. This is why so many “corporates” fail as they rely too much on the old-school ruthless and professional stance in business. People who spam groups with hard-sell advertising, people who see a quick, relevant opportunity to share knowledge but won’t “give it up for free”, people who rip off or piss off other business owners… they’re all more dangerous than you might think. These people are the ones who ruin your chances of ever succeeding on Facebook.

Your brand instantly becomes associated with them and therefore untouchable. They’re everywhere. Beware.

How to identify this Facebook scammer:

  • Check their profile and make a list of groups they belong to
  • Join those groups and use the looking glass button to find their posts.
  • Are they being helpful or spamming the group?

Facebook is largely a high school cafeteria. There are factions and groups and businesses are in “cliques”. Look for the “frequent” supporters of your potential partner. You are getting into bed with all of them. Make sure they’re all on board with your approach to doing business.

Facebook, despite all its faults and frustrations, is still an excellent way to market your business. Avoiding Facebook scammers is a minefield, especially for small businesses new to the platform and unfamiliar with how it all works. The best way to avoid Facebook business scammers is to get a feel for the culture before you hand over money.


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