Has Your Facebook Really Been Hacked or Cloned?

facebook cloning

Two different viral warnings are spreading on Facebook in the past week. One is about a rash of “cloned” accounts and bogus friend requests. It is mostly fake, say security experts, who ask people to stop forwarding it. The other is about a security breach resulting in 50 million Facebook users accounts being hacked. Let’s look at both below and see if your Facebook has really been cloned or hacked.

FACEBOOK CLONING WARNING


I have received a few Facebook messages from friends warning me that my account has been hacked or cloned. A couple of examples are:

“Hi….I actually got another friend request from you which I ignored so you may want to check your account. Hold your finger on the message until the forward button appears…then hit forward and all the people you want to forward too….I had to do the people individually. PLEASE DO NOT ACCEPT A NEW friendship FROM ME AT THIS TIME.”

“Almost every account is being cloned. Your picture and your name are used to create a new face book account (they don’t need your password to do this this). They want your friends to add them to their Facebook account. Your friends will think that it’s you and accept your request. From that point on they can write what they want under your name. I have NO plans to open a new account. Please DO NOT accept a 2nd friend request from “me”. please forward to all your contacts.”

Now my account wasn’t really cloned or hacked, but this was the end result of someone sending the canned message to all friends.

Warning people that you’ve received a second friend request from their account is only helpful IF you’ve actually received one. And encouraging people to forward the message to their entire friends list, well that’s just pointless.

HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOUR FACEBOOK HAS REALLY BEEN CLONED

One easy way to check to see whether your account has really been cloned is to search your name on Facebook. If more than one account with your photo and details shows up, your account may have been cloned.

Simply contact Facebook using the “report this profile” link on the bogus account, and it will be removed. Most of the time, this is resolved within 24 hours, but could take longer to be removed.

FACEBOOK SECURITY BREACH


The reality is that Facebook announced last week that about 50 million users were recently hacked. The hacking was the result of a flaw in Facebook’s “View As” feature. The “View As” allows you to see your profile as others do. Users can type in a person’s name to get an understanding of what can be seen when a particular person is viewing their page.

Affected access tokens, which are like digital keys that allow a person to access their account without having to log in each time, were reset, forcing millions of users to manually log back into their accounts. So if you were automatically logged out on all of your devices on the morning of Friday, September 28th, then there’s reason to believe your account was susceptible to the vulnerability.

Currently, the “View As” feature is not available while Facebook works to rectify the problem, those who try to use this feature should see an error message.

HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOUR FACEBOOK ACCOUNT WAS ONE THAT WAS BREACHED?
When Facebook announced the attack on its blog last Friday, it said affected users would receive a notification at the top of their News Feed when logging back into their account explaining what happened and what steps to take moving forward.

If you received this notification, you can select “Learn More” to get an understanding of how this breach will affect you. If you did not receive a notification at the top of your News Feed, your account was probably not affected by this security issue.

If you want to be extra safe, go to Settings– Security and Login– Where You’re Logged In to see if there are any unfamiliar devices attached to your account.

Eliminating Google Click Fraud

click fraud

Are You Running a Google AdWords Campaign?

You may find yourself the victim of click fraud. Click fraud is a black-hat technique of falsely inflating the number of clicks on a pay-per-click ad. Most of the time my clients experience an attack by a competitor. It is the competitor business itself or the competitor’s unscrupulous third party marketing service who click away at an ad to drive up the PPC cost and eat up my client’s budget.

According to Google, they employ advanced algorithms to detect and filter out invalid clicks in real time, before advertisers are even charged. Since these filters cannot possibly catch all fraudulent clicks, Google’s “Ad Traffic Quality Team” also conducts manual analysis and removes any clicks that they deem to be invalid before advertisers are actually charged. Google also launches investigations based on advertisers’ reports of suspicious activity. Anytime malicious clicks are detected, they are labeled as “invalid” and credits are issued to the account. That said, none of this has ever helped any of my clients experiencing click fraud even when reported to Google with factual evidence. And believe me, it happens to a lot of my clients.

What can you do to protect yourself from click fraud?

  1. Use a Click Fraud Protection Service: ClickGUARD™ or clickCease are a few of the providers who offer click fraud monitoring and protection services.
  2. Add IP Exclusions in AdWords: If you’ve done your research and know the IP address associated with fraudulent clicks, you can block your ad from being served to that IP in the future. To set up an exclusion, all you need to do is go to the Settings tab and scroll down to the IP Exclusions setting. From there, you just plug in the offending addresses and you’re covered.
  3. Tweak Your Ad Targeting: If you suspect that a competitor is committing click fraud, you can exclude their zip code, city, etc. Of course, it is imperative that you are not eliminating valid traffic as you do this. Only set these exclusions if you believe that the majority of the clicks generated in these areas are truly fraudulent. If you suspect click fraud is coming from a specific geographic region, it may be worthwhile to exclude these locations and their respective languages. Sometimes your competitors will employ third party SEO or online marketing services that are based in other countries with low labor rates who will use the “click farm” tactic.

Alternatively you can use social media ad campaigns. The great thing about utilizing Facebook and Twitter ad platforms for instance, is that your ads will show exclusively on these platforms. There are no third-party publishers involved thus cutting out a significant source of click fraud. But what about malicious competitors’ clicks? Good news! This version of click fraud is less prevalent on paid social networks because of their specific ad targeting. Since ad placement is based on a keyword search, it’s much more difficult for competitors to even find your ads.

Facebook Boost Versus Facebook Ad

facebook ads oklahoma city

Many times, clients ask me what is the difference between a Facebook ad and a Boost. Understanding that these not only work differently but have different results, will help you make a decision on which would serve your business goal.

Boosted Posts

Boosting one of the posts on your business page is a simple and relatively low-cost way to get your content in front of more people. And to initiate the boosted post feature, just post something as usual. Then once it’s posted, click the blue “Boost Post” button in the lower right corner of your post.

The goal here would be to receive more views, likes, comments and shares. You have an option to either boost your post so more of your page followers see it, or you can boost a post to those that are not a follower of your page to reach a new audience using target demographics.

Boosts are a great tool for a new business page to help you attract a following by letting people know that your page exists. With a boosted post you can target age, gender, location, and interests specific to your business.

Let’s say I have a new restaurant client. They are going to have live music and $10 off any entrée on a particular night. We could boost that post for as little as $30 the day before the event to generate new reservations. This really works, but obviously, the more you pay, the greater your audience potential.

Facebook Ads

Facebook ads are a more complex way of advertising for businesses. Compared to a simple “boosted post”, you would need to first create a Facebook Ads Manager account. With that account you can set up different campaigns with unique goals in mind. Campaigns could include: more page likes, website clicks and/or conversions, event responses, video views, offer claims, app installs and/or engagements.

You could do this on any budget. And it works on the same premise as the boost in that the more you pay, the more people you will reach. Similar to boosted posts you can target by age, gender, location and interests. Unlike boosted posts, you will have additional more advanced targeting options. Your Facebook ads have a call to action button that can say “shop now, sign up, contact us, etc.” They can also be shown on Instagram (which is owned by Facebook).

Your Facebook ads will not be shown on your own Facebook business page. The ad is only sent to your targeted audience. The Facebook Ads Manager walks you through the steps of creating an ad with pre-made templates. It’s very intuitive and user-friendly.

Another option with Facebook ads is running your message on Facebook’s ‘audience network.’ Your message can appear on multiple websites and apps, as well as Facebook and Instagram. Because people have their devices and computers tied into Facebook, you can still use the same targeting to get your message outside of Facebook. This gives you more bang for your buck.

The bottom line is if you need more engagement, likes and follows, boost a post. The result is more brand awareness. If you want to send leads to your website, sell a product, or get conversions or sign-ups, then create a Facebook Ad. The result is actual leads or sales.

Transparency in Marketing Is Key

Why Transparency in Marketing Is Key

 

Say goodbye to gotcha marketing
One of my long-time dentist clients recently received an email from what appeared to be a staff member of a dental practice in another state. The email gave him props on his blog articles and offered to let him use a dental health-related infographic that their practice had developed. He forwarded this offer to me to check out, and while the English looked a bit odd (smacking of a possible SPAM email), there was no doubt that the attached infographic was informative about gum disease. I reached out to the author of the email offer, “Victoria”, to let her know we were writing a blog that Friday and would like to take her up on the offer to use the infographic. When I received her reply the next day, again it was written awkwardly as though maybe it was coming from another country and not the actual dentist’s office. Oh and there was an embed code to add with the graphic pointing to the dental practice who supposedly developed the graphic. As a routine part of our vetting process, I called the dental practice shown in “Victoria’s” email domain since there was no actual contact information in her email, another indicator we should probably validate the offer. When I called the practice, the front desk had never heard of “Victoria” nor the infographic.

The story goes on straight down a spiraling rabbit hole. The front desk asked me to forward Victoria’s email to them. Then start the psychotic emails from “Victoria” asking why we accused her of all sorts of crimes against humanity. Turns out that “Victoria” is just a fictitious name used by a third party marketing firm hired by the dental practice. Also turns out that in fact “Victoria” is European and while the dentist nor his office knew the tactics this third party marketing service was employing, they seemed to be okay with it once we spilled the beans.

This is trick marketing. The SEO marketer who came up with this marketing strategy knows this. While their defense was “no webmaster would return their emails if they thought they were dealing with a third-party marketing firm versus the actual dental practice”, it’s still deceptive.

Today customers have more choices than ever, and customers choose to do business with companies that are honest and transparent. We’ll pay more to do business with companies who refrain from gotcha-marketing. No one likes to feel like they’ve been bamboozled–whether that’s not being upfront about the actual person sending the offer, offering marketing tactics that don’t deliver any value, or sending out offers that make a customer look bad.

The marketer is faced with two roads. One road is paved with gimmicks and tricks that confuse customers into clicking or taking action. The other road is lined with a value-added service. We would have used that infographic and given a backlink and credit to the other dental practice had the marketer been transparent.

Moral to the story—when selecting a marketing firm, ensure they are upfront and transparent because after all, they represent YOU.

SSL Certificates

internet security

You Need an SSL Certificate for your Website Now

Does your current web hosting plan allow you to enable HTTPS?

In the Introduction to WordPress Security article in the Wordfence Learning Center, they explain why it is crucial to only log into your website via a secure connection. If you aren’t currently logging into your site securely, drop everything you are doing and go fix that right away. The cost of an SSL certificate is minimal (for instance Go Daddy’s annual SSL certificate is about $70). An attacker who is listening to your network traffic can steal your username and password, taking control of your website if it is not secured. The cost of restoring your site after a hack is expensive and depending upon the severity, could cost thousands given downtime, reinstalling software, restoring backup, etc.

There are additional benefits to running https. It will improve your SEO rankings and it will protect any other data you are capturing via forms and payment screens on the rest of your site.

We strongly recommend that you run an https-only website. If you need help purchasing and implementing an SSL certificate for your site, please email us at info@kristieakindesign.com.

Email + Social = Engagement

Social Media Consulting OKCDeploying Social Tactics to Deepen Your Subscriber Relationship

In the ever-evolving landscape of email marketing, social media is playing a more integral role in the subscriber relationship. It’s critical that we as marketers learn to use our email marketing programs to deploy effective social tactics that respond to the customer life cycle and engage beyond the first click. In this whitepaper, we will outline five tactics to leverage in your email strategy today to drive impact from the basics of social sharing to advanced mechanics such as social shopping.

Whether it’s implementing social content in your email marketing or utilizing social channels to deepen the breadth of your customer service, it’s important to identify how your customers and prospects identify with your brand and drive tactics that facilitate immediate engagement.

Is Social Necessary?

The reality is that implementing social media tactics into your email marketing mix shouldn’t be done simply because everyone else is doing it. Depending on your business objectives, deciding how and when you will use this mix is critical. In addition, it’s imperative to ensure you have the appropriate resources. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

1. Do we have “share-worthy” content?
2. Can we measure the impact?
3. What kind of content/offers should we develop that give subscribers value?

After you’ve answered these questions and believe that social tactics will deepen the subscriber relationship, it’s time to begin defining how you will integrate social into your email marketing mix.

 

Read the full article at iContact.com here.

Quality Content Helps SEO

seoWe have heard a lot of buzz recently such as, “you should be blogging or you should be posting on social media to get your search rankings high,” as if it’s some sort of magical thing that makes all of Google suddenly adore your website. Even though it’s not “magical”, it is useful information, and here’s why:

Blogging alone won’t help with SEO

The only difference between a blog and every other page on your website is that a blog tends to be published in the form of individual posts in reverse chronological order with the option for users to leave comments on each post. And when most people talk about blogging, they’re usually just talking about adding content to a website on a regular basis. Most low budget SEO providers say, “You have to have a blog and you have to write x number of posts per month.” You hire them and they pump out barely researched content that is loosely related to your industry. Please beware because this won’t help much with your SEO effort.

Quality content will help with SEO

After the changes Google’s made over the past few years, creating quality content and publishing it on your website is the only way to get ranked for anything worthwhile. Whether you publish that content on an existing page of your website or on a blog does not matter a hill of beans. Just as long as you’re creating quality content and doing it rather frequently.

What is quality content you may ask?

It depends on your goals of course–the type of content you write, and the type that constitutes “quality content” will vary dramatically depending on your goals. I’m going to make a big assumption that since you are reading this article, your goal is to drive more qualified organic search traffic with the intent of converting that traffic into customers. So if the goal is driving organic search traffic, then quality content is content that matches the searcher’s intent as closely as possible, and does so better than your competition.

Searcher’s intent

What I mean by “searcher’s intent is the ultimate goal of the searcher when he or she types something into the search engine.

To give you an example, SEO is one of the major things we do. But when someone types, “SEO”, they might be looking for an SEO firm, or they might want an explanation of the term, or they might want to get a job in SEO, or about a hundred other possibilities. Sometimes it may be too difficult to determine the intent of a search query, so you can start more specific. “SEO jobs” for example.

When it comes to creating quality content, there’s a happy medium in there where you get specific enough to understand the searcher’s intent, but not so specific that your content doesn’t bring in any traffic.

Better than the competition

To recap, quality content is content that matches the searcher’s intent as closely as possible, and does it better than the competition. In the end, we’re competing against everyone else for traffic in the search engines. In order to do better than your competition you need to create better content.

Pick a search query you want to rank for, then search it on Google. Does the ranking competition seem to understand the true intent behind that particular search query? Does their content match that intent? Could you do it better? If so, you may just be able to make some headway on that keyword.

The bottom line is that blogging alone won’t help you with SEO. But spending time to figure out the keywords your prospective customers use to find you, the true intent behind those keywords, and how well the competition is matching that intent will help you determine what kind of content you should create and whether it will have a chance of driving quality organic traffic to your website.

If you then create that content, and you do it well, then your SEO will improve.

Email Marketing Tips from Constant Contact

email-frustrationConstant Contact came out with a very clever video about what drives your email readers crazy! We’ve all had one of ‘those’ emails drop into our inboxes—the kind that make steam start to come out of your ears! Well, you may be unintentionally causing the same reaction in your readers because of a few mistakes, BUT the good news is that they’re easy to correct!They narrowed it down to a top five list entitled “5 Things Your Email Readers Hate”. Must of these are common sense, but you’d be surprised how many of my own clients commit these infractions. Click on the video to watch and learn or read their blog article below.

I’ve picked out 5 of the top things that email newsletter readers hate, and how to avoid or fix the issues:

1. Receiving unsolicited emails

No one likes to find out that they’ve been added to a mailing list ‘by surprise’, and atConstant Contact we take ‘permission only’ list building very seriously.

However, sometimes even properly opted-in subscribers can forget or misunderstand why an email is being sent to them.

To prevent this make sure you do the following:

  • Use a “from” name & sending address that your audience recognises. Include your name and your brand name if you can.
  • Always use the SAME from name and email address so they know who you are.
  • Include a permission reminder and tell them why they are getting your emails. This will reduce your unsubscribe rate AND the number of spam reports you receive.
  • Use your logo and branding, so that readers instantly realise that it’s you.
  • Most importantly—always ask permission to email them.

2. Not being able to read your email on their mobile

The majority of smartphone owners read emails on their mobiles these days, so your readers need to be able to read your newsletter on their phone.

A few key factors will make all the difference:

  • Use a single column template for your email. This approach makes your content much more flexible for all screen sizes (Consulting Card and Consulting Newsletter are two good Constant Contact templates for this purpose).
  • Use fewer images in your email. No one wants to see a whole email full of big red Xs, so only use a couple of key images essential to your email.
  • Don’t embed text in images. If you have text overlaid on an image, and that image doesn’t show, then the text is lost too. So make sure that you keep images and text separate wherever possible.
  • Keep it shorty-short-short! People have short attention spans online—when they are reading on a tiny mobile phone screen, it gets even shorter! Don’t make them scroll, just share the bare essentials. It may help to think in sound-bites!

3. When it’s hard to find your contact details

I get your email and I want to take advantage of your product or offer, but wait! I can’t find your phone number or website address to go and find out more or place an order. Make sure that your contact details are included clearly on your email, so that your readers can get in touch.

4. Stupid spelling mistakes

Now that spell check is a normal part of everyday business life, readers have an even lower tolerance of spelling errors than they did before. Spelling mistakes make it look like you don’t pay attention to detail, and that’s not a good message to send to a potential customer!

Spelling is super-easy to fix though. Just run a spell check on your newsletter before you send it out (Constant Contact has one built in!)

If you want to make doubly sure—have a friend or colleague (who can spell!) proofread your newsletter before you hit send.

5. Not finding the content valuable

Your readers subscribe to your emails because they want to know what you have to say—whether that’s info about your latest offers, useful tips, or expert insight into your industry. So, you just have to remember to give them what they signed up for!

This is not hard, I promise, and the easiest way to stay on track is to ask your readers if they are getting what they want from your emails.

On a month-to-month basis, you can also keep on top of this potential issue by asking yourself two questions before you send:

  • Would my average subscriber read right to the end of this email?
  • What’s the one big thing that my reader will take away from this?

It’s not hard to avoid these problems

So go ahead and put the above tips into practice. I’m sure it will make a difference.

 

 

Protect Your Site from Hackers

cyber-crimeIn the last year, more and more of my clients have gotten their website hacked.  There are a few simple steps you can take to help prevent cyber-criminals from accessing your website:

  • Software Updates.  Old software makes it easy for cyber-criminals to compromise your site by using widely available exploits. If you have a WordPress site, keep the software and Plug ins current. 
  • Change Passwords and Make Them STRONG. I recommend that my clients change the passwords for their FTP, WordPress dashboard, etc. routinely. Don’t use your name, company name or any easy to figure out combination.
  • Limit Access. Make sure you know who has access to your servers, and that only those people are accessing your servers. If you allow someone access to your FTP temporarily, be sure to cancel that user login once the task is complete.
  • Check Your Server Frequently.  If you have a WordPress site, check your Theme Functions and Header for malware. An unexpected spike in traffic will help alert you that your simple webserver has been turned into a costly spam site.

Just because your company may not store customer credit card data on their server, doesn’t mean it’s not a target. Criminals will use your servers to attack others or to market items like Viagra or Pay Day loans. Taking the time to follow the simple steps above could save you a lot of time and money in the long run.

10 Last Minute Holiday Marketing Ideas

holiday-marketing2013December is a crunch time for retailers and many B2B businesses. Salespeople push to fill their quotas, wholesalers rush to get shipments out and retailers seek enough sales to achieve a profitable year.  Maybe you’ve been focused on the short term. But it’s November and your holiday marketing plan needs work.  It’s time to act quickly to help customers find you.  You can still reach them before they make their purchasing decisions. According to Google, for example, 70 percent of consumers wait to make holiday purchases until Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.

There’s also a lasting benefit to holiday marketing.

With the right tactics, holiday growth can be a long-term deal, rather than a quarterly bump. It’s an opportunity to get customers in the door (or onto your site), and then keep them coming back.  By leveraging coupons, discounts or special bonus items during the holidays, you can become a regular destination for your new customers, generating long-term repeat business that pays for the discounts or promotions you create.
Ready to start? Your friends at Vocus, along with some industry experts, are here to pitch some tactics, tips and ideas for holiday marketing success.

Read and download the full article here by Vocus.  It’s awesome!