I’ve been on LinkedIn for over three years and I’ve been amazed that spam related content has not been a huge issue. Rarely do I see, or maybe its that I haven’t recognized it, this type of activity. Compared to Twitter direct sales messages rarely work.
Today I received a message from a fellow group member that at first I assumed was legitimate. Now I’m not so sure. I’m going to leave the final decision up to you.
First here’s the message I received from Bradley Mitchell which included a note apparently sent to him from Mr. Brad Kenzie. It includes a link to http://www.moresocialleads.com which advertises a social media product called PMA Desk.
The message is pretty straight forward. Since I work with clients helping them with their social media strategies, and having written a blog for the past two years that discusses LinkedIn and social media, I was curious. I clicked on the link to check it out.
This is part of a screenshot to where the link directed me.
After looking at the site I was also curious about the person that sent me the message so I visited his profile as well. That’s when I started to have my suspicions. Here a screen shot of Bradley’s profile.
A couple of things stood out. First the photo doesn’t look like a real profile shot, rather something captured off of iStockphoto or Jupiter images. Second the number of connections caught my eye. Third the lack of web url’s. Fourth the lack of a customized profile url. And then the last part was the lack of information in the rest of the profile.
So I next did a search on Twitter for Bradley Mitchell and PMA Desk. No listings were found. So next I searched Google using the keyword search term “bradley mitchell” and sofcar. Here’s the result.
No listing found. So then I decided to search for the company, Sofcar. Per Bradley’s profile they are based out of Chicago. Here are the results.
There were lots of listings for “sofa” etc. but no listing for a company named Sofcar.
The last search I tried was on LinkedIn for a profile for Brad Kenzi. Here are the results.
Once again no luck in finding such a person listed on LinkedIn.
So once again here is what I’m wondering (but I’ll leave the final determination up to you). Did PMA Desk create a fictitious LinkedIn account, join groups, and then start sending out fake messages to spam people to drive traffic to the PMA Desk?
If so this is a major breach of social media protocol, and advertising ethics in general. At a minimum they are guilty of spam, even if all of the accounts were real. They sent me a sales message without my permission.
At worst they’ve sent me a spam message after going through the trouble to create a false profile in an attempt to generate credibility. In either case they failed. But obviously some people will click on the link thus driving traffic to their site.
If the account is false it also raises questions about some of the claims on their home page.
First are the claims of the product. If they did create a fake account how am I to believe the product claims stated on the site.
Second they have a banner claiming that the product was featured on Fox and Friends. Here’s the screen capture.
If they created a fake profile should I believe this? I decided to do a search on “PMA desk” and Fox and friends. Here are the results for that Google search.
That’s it. Seems like if I had a product or service featured on Fox and Friends you’d see press releases and article touting this success.
The third thing to question is the actual testimonials on the site. If they did create a fake profile how could I believe the validity of these claims. (I have been able to confirm that Mathew Sapaula is a real person)
You’ll have to make your own decision but something doesn’t jive.
Interestingly enough there is a company page on LinkedIn for PMA Desk that lists four employees on LinkedIn. The page claims that there are 87 employees total. A small percentage of employees with LinkedIn accounts for a company that sells a product geared to creating a social media plan.
Here are the screen shots of the four employees profiles.
The first three unfortunately raise the question of whether or not they are real accounts are bogus profiles. The last is possibly the person behind PMA Desk.
Is PMA Desk a real product that can help you with your online social media efforts, I don’t know. I do know that from a credibility perspective there are some glaring questions that have been raised.
Here’s the thing about this social networking world that we are all exploring and participating in. Its easy to create a presence online. It’s easy to build an apparent history and track record. Most people are going to initially take you at your word, or at least believe what’s on the page.
But its also a community that when it feels its been misused or its trust violated that will immediately respond by ignoring, disconnecting, and sharing what its learned with others. Your online brand can takes years to build but be destroyed instantly by actions that cross the community threshold of decency.
Spamming is one of those no-no’s that will tear down your brand. Creating fake accounts to engage in false discussions is another.
Using social media to connect and engage in conversations to drive business is a good thing. It doesn’t matter if it is a corporate account or an individual account, as long as the conversations are legitimate.
What do you think?
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