How to Spot Social Spammers

By Lolly Spindler

Running Crea’s social media profiles has put me in contact with a larger and more diverse group of people than I would have connected with via a personal account. This is partially because the social profiles are that of a business brand, providing a bit of anonymity. Not only have I found some awesome like-minded individuals and businesses on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+, I’ve also been followed by some pretty spammy accounts.

Knowing when to follow someone back who’s already following you is a tricky business. You don’t want to lose any business, but you don’t want to follow accounts that may not post content related to your field or content that all points to the same site (a.k.a. spam accounts).

Therefore, here are some factors I’ve noticed are characteristic of spam accounts to help you better spot them.

Twitter Spam Red Flags


Photo by Andreas Eldh

  • In the description section under the person’s name and photo, be wary if you see “Please Retweet” followed by a URL. Here are some examples: A and B.
  • Personal or brand descriptions that ask you to download an eBook or give you some other call to action can be signs of spam accounts. In other words, the description isn’t even a description of the person or business but a blatant advertisement or click bait.
  • The header photo and main “profile” photo are the same or very similar. Here are some Twitter accounts matching this description: C, D, E and F. Usually people tend to use a photo of themselves for their main profile photo and a photo that represents their brand or their interests as a header photo. As you’ll see, not only do all of these profiles ask people to “please retweet” something, but both profiles C and D point to the same business Twitter account (@EntreprePro).
  • The English is garbled. This can mean that the creator of the profile speaks English as a second language. Some examples: “Be a Part of My Tweet” and “Spread Word.” This could mean that the person in the picture is not the person who created the account.
  • One spam account is constantly retweeting another spam account, trying to push the same content and promoting the same business. For example, profile E constantly retweets profile A and F. In fact, “she” retweeted profile A seven times on September 16th alone.

**Note: When following the “please retweet” links of these six profiles, two of the short links lead to Entrepreneurs Pro’s website, and three lead to LinkedInfluence’s page (a majority, if not all of the links to content on these profiles also lead to these sites). It’s quite likely these are only a few of the spam Twitter accounts pointing to these sites.

Another Spammy Encounter


Photo by Janet Galore

Another experience I had with a social spammer involved an email from someone asking to write a guest blog post. Before accepting this person’s request right away (and I wanted to—one thing off of the to-do list would’ve been nice!) I did a little research. I looked up this individual’s social profiles and found out that s/he was using a young woman’s picture for his/her main Twitter picture and linking to a company’s website. It turned out whoever created the account had lifted this young woman’s picture from another social media site and used it for his/her Twitter account. The company was using this woman’s identity to get its content, in the form of guest posts, on other businesses’ websites.

Lesson learned: if and when you’re contacted by someone wanting to guest post on your site, make sure s/he is a reputable source! Of course a few links back to his/her website are ok if s/he is in a similar field and has similar content (which s/he should), but s/he should never be posing as someone else!

The Takeaway 

Getting your content and your company’s name out there is important in today’s online world, but you should never result to using questionable tactics to do so. Being socially moral is as important as being socially engaged.

If you think someone may be using another’s photo to promote his/her business without consent, use Google Image Search to plug in the photo and see what’s returned. If you think it appropriate, email him/her or contact the person via another social media profile s/he owns to let him/her know about the situation.

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