Your brand’s presence and reputation that you built over years of hard work are sacred to you. People trust you because of it and develop a sense of brand loyalty. But because the internet has many fickle elements, it is easy to ruin this reputation with one fake social media account.
Fake social media accounts can close down companies because of the dire consequences. In 2021, more than one in four people reported losing money because of fraudsters, and their initial interactions started on social media through ads, posts, or messages.
These fake accounts are only increasing, and from 2017 to 2021, Facebook claimed that there were 17.6 billion fake accounts. With this surge in fake accounts, you must be vigilant to ensure you don’t become a headline for a scam through a fake account.
In this blog, we will address how to prevent such accounts from hampering your brand.
What are fake social media accounts?
Fake social media accounts are profiles created maliciously to deceive or mislead people by pretending to be someone else. They can mimic individuals or brands and, in the process, spread false information and engage in activities that could land your brand in trouble.
Fake accounts impersonating brands also cause distress by trolling the original account’s audience and scamming them through activities such as fake giveaways.
Such accounts can have lasting effects on a brand’s presence on social media and across platforms. Therefore, you have to stay vigilant in identifying them and taking action on the issue.
How can fake social media accounts hurt your brand?
Fake accounts on social media are designed to tarnish your brand and cause repercussions while often trying to scam your audience in the process. Here are how they can do it:
1. Scam your followers
Several individual accounts and brands host giveaways and contests to increase their account’s reach and create more buzz about their products and services. Scammers use such opportunities to either engage with the customer’s profiles in comments and invite them to DM for more information or even create new social media accounts with names very similar to the brand.
The consequences can be chaotic, and this was the case for a Twitter user who fell for a scam through Elon Musk’s tweet.
Below is an example: a Twitter user saw a message to click on a link for a Bitcoin giveaway. The user believed both the tweets were from Elon and participated in the giveaway and sent 10 of his Bitcoin for maximum returns. Only to realize this was a scam and, unfortunately, lost his money.
2. Spread misinformation
When people assume the online identity of brands, they can also stir up nuisance by spreading false information in their name. During the COVID-19 lockdown, many fake social media accounts were set up to spread false news about the disease and vaccines, leading to many scares among the public.
While the general public needs to be aware of the consequences of consuming information on social media and providing their sensitive data – often, it is an impulsive decision.
One retweet and share could blow up the fake account’s post. Such information could potentially harm people and, therefore, a brand losing its credibility.
3. Brings a negative perception
Fake accounts are also created to cause damage to a brand’s reputation. They could comment negatively, engage with your audience and harass them online or even post inappropriate content on fake accounts. To most people, it would appear as if you are posting it all, which leads to a dent in how people perceive your brand.
4. Damage your relationship with customers
Often fake accounts mislead and confuse customers with false promises, scams, and negative posts. This leads to customers losing trust in the brand without even realizing it is fake.
Even after your account finds out and clears the air about such incidents, it strains your relationships with customers who now don’t trust you enough. Negative experiences associated with your brand can lead to loss of customer loyalty, negative word-of-mouth, and significant difficulty rebuilding trust.
5. Cause legal implications
When fake accounts on social media engage in activities such as phishing, and copyright infringement, they open up your brand to legal risks.
Even though these activities would not have involved you, once your brand name is involved with such incidents, you are immediately in trouble. Even getting out of it is a time-consuming process to clear your name and do damage control, and the legal fees become an added expense.
6. Tank your stocks
The stock market can be volatile, but when your brand’s name comes up negatively in the media, your stock prices will suffer too. In a recent example, when Twitter made blue tick easy access,
Another account impersonated the Aerospace company Lockheed Martin with the name @LockheedMartini. The extra i was the giveaway but also how they created false names and claimed they would halt weapon sales to Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the US. The tweet had the ripple effect of their stocks tanking by 5.30%.
Tips to protect your brand from fake social media accounts
We discussed the effects of fake social media accounts, but you don’t have to go through it all. You can take several proactive steps to avoid being in bad situations.
1. Implement a social monitoring system
A social monitoring system will help identify fake accounts created in your brand’s name. This includes looking for different accounts using names similar to yours with some changes and misspellings. It’s tedious, but you might never find out about these accounts before the damage is done. Social monitoring automates the task and keeps an eye on these accounts and their verification.
2. Report fake accounts immediately
Whenever you encounter a fake account impersonating your brand, report it to the respective social media platform. Immediately flag any fake accounts that attempt to mimic your brand and provide the social platform with the necessary information and evidence to support your case. Additionally, inform your audience about the impersonation and advise them to report and block the fake account. When multiple people report the same issue, the chances of immediate action are high.
Along with the two action items for you, here are some tips to fight fake social media accounts:
3. Imbibe social listening for security
One way to learn about conversations about your brand is through social listening. Whenever someone mentions your brand or is impersonating you, you can get alerted about the discussion surrounding the situation.
When you monitor these alerts, you can quickly check and understand in what context you mentioned. If there is false information about your brand or someone is talking about an experience with you in poor taste, you can quickly fix this issue and report the accounts involved. Radarr can help with social media listening that can provide real-time alerts and audience insights so you remain on top of such problems constantly.
4. Set up Google alerts for your brand
While you can use social listening tools to learn about social media conversations, you can broaden your security by setting up Google alerts. These alerts notify you every time your brand is mentioned on the internet.
You can set up brand-related alerts using your name, possible variations and misspelling of the name, keywords related to your brand, and more.
Additionally, to narrow down your alerts, you can set up alerts for phrases like “fake [your brand name] account” or “[your brand name] scam,” you can be notified of such instances and take appropriate action. Fake accounts could use your brand’s content without permission. To know when such things happen, set up alerts for key phrases or copyrighted content. They can help you identify content misuse and take appropriate action to protect your brand’s intellectual property.
5. Buy domain names that could represent your brand
Secure domain names that closely resemble your own to prevent impersonation. Fake accounts can use this to buy domain names similar to yours and redirect your audience to scam them.
Therefore investing in website names that sound or are spelled like your brand is one of the most effective ways to protect your brand. This will deter hackers from purchasing and misusing them.
In addition, register your domain name on relevant extensions, for example, www.apple.store for Apple’s commercial website or www.amazon.tech for Amazon’s primary webpage. They all redirect to the same original site.
6. Develop a strong sense of brand identity
Your brand identity is beyond a name and logo. When you invest in building a solid virtual presence, it helps your audience identify you. This way, when an impersonating account posts something, your audience can tell the difference.
- Create guidelines that define your brand’s visual identity – logo usage, color palette, typography, and design elements. Use them consistently in all your social media posts, stories, and ads.
- Use consistent tone and voice in your posts and interactions on social media. So whenever an account pretending to be you try to engage with your audience, they will know something is off.
- Engage with your audience regularly on social media. This includes responding to their comments, DMs and reaching out when they tag you. Doing this also enables them to let you know if they find any suspicious accounts.
7. Curate a social media crisis management plan
Despite all the steps you take to avoid fake accounts from impersonating you, sometimes you just might not catch them on time. This can cause frustration to customers, long-term damage to your reputation, and also revenue loss depending on the severity of the issue.
Whatever the case may be, you need to develop a plan for every case, you don’t want to scramble for a strategy when you are in the middle of the situation.
Identify the type of instances that could occur and list the possible scenarios. A fake giveaway, asking for sensitive information, posting false news, posting lewd images or videos, or even abusing your customers online – whatever the case, create corresponding plans to deal with each of them.
Decide what kind of emails you want to send, what social media post you want to create, and how you want to let your audience know about the issue.
Some issues could be resolved by a simple post, while others require intervention from the higher management. And you want to be prepared for both. Remember, quick responses can save you from fake accounts damaging your reputation and causing financial losses to you and your customers.
8. Get verified on your social media handles
If you want to prevent brand impersonation on social media, there’s no better way than getting verified. With a blue checkmark or similar badge next to your brand’s name, users will know your account is genuine. This sets you apart from any fraudulent or imitative accounts and establishes credibility with your followers.
Follow the instructions provided by each social media platform to submit a verification request. This typically involves completing a form or providing the necessary information to prove your brand’s authenticity.
9. Educate your audience
If you see a pattern of fake accounts in your brand’s name or users have reported such issues, then educating your audience about it is essential.
The people who already follow you are most likely to fall for fake account scam attempts, so when you create awareness among them, you will minimize such chances. Show them examples of fake accounts and how to identify and report them.
Additionally, let them know that your brand would only ask them for sensitive information or payments with appropriate steps. Encourage your audience to be vigilant and rely only on your official accounts for accurate details.
Don’t let fake social media accounts hold you back!
It is stressful to deal with fake accounts on social media, especially if you are still building your brand. However, by taking the proper steps to deal with them, you can safeguard your brand’s reputation.
Actively monitoring your social media accounts through the right tools can help you stay prepared for any such scenario and react quickly for minimal effect. Preempting such attempts can help you create strong crisis management narratives as well.
Now that you know the lasting effects of fake social profiles and how to combat them, schedule a demo with Radarr today.