Resorting to this

There was no coincidence in the timing (again) of a number of social media posts I woke up to today, the so-called “Freedom Day”. The hot weather here in the UK has seen hundreds of thousands of Brits head to the beach as the “staycation” as taken over from the “vacation”. Many prospective holiday makers will not risk booking an overseas trip just yet whilst the destinations list remains so fluid in terms of restrictions going out and coming back in. So most of us will stay right here in the beautiful British Isles.

With restrictions being eased, then bookings at some of the most popular locations have understandably gone through the roof. One of the most popular family destinations is Center Parcs, who have a number of parks across the UK, with plenty of outdoor activities for all as well as restaurants and their spa facilities. Such is the demand for accommodation in their parks that it is often hard to find any free spaces. But fear not because they are offering a free break for four people, plus spending money and all travel paid. And it couldn’t be easier to enter the competition – just share the competition page on Facebook, comment and like it. Who wouldn’t enter that with it being so easy.

Except we all know that because it is too easy there should be a red flag being frantically waved in our heads. Let’s take a look at what can be found on Facebook.

Picture 1 is a genuine Center Parcs UK post – a news story about a location for a new site being found in West Sussex. There isn’t a call to action, the spelling and grammar are spot on, the logo is correct, the name of the company is also correct and they have been verified with the blue tick.

Picture 2 is the first attempt at trying to pretend to be Center Parcs. As you can see they have made a terrible attempt at spelling the company name plus there is some poor grammar in the text. Picture 3 is better, at least the name is correct but the logo isn’t. The pictures are taken direct from the Center Parcs website.

Irrespective if they are genuine-looking, why would Center Parcs have any reason or motivation to give away such a prize? They are turning people away such is the demand for staycations. Why would they need you to “Like”, “Share” and “Comment” on the post?

Because this is all about collecting as much personal data from social media users as possible which can be used or sold on at a later date. When I first saw the “competition” on Facebook, over 33,000 had shared it, even more had liked it. Who is to say that a significant percentage may be contacted because they have “won” the holiday? What is the next step? An admin fee payable, which requires bank details to be shared?

I know the last 18 months have been tough on us all, and the thought of a holiday is incredibly tempting which is why we all need to be extra vigilant and really think before we are tempted to act. If you see similar offers, take a step back and ask “what’s in it for them”? Big brands rarely give away anything so cheaply, yet thousands of social media users will.

Pop Quiz

“The name of your first pet + your mother’s maiden name is your stripper name”

I’m sure we have all seen similar questions on Social Media that are designed “just for a laugh” and when we read some of the responses they can be quite amusing. But they are also very revealing. Too revealing in all honesty.

Mother’s maiden name is a frequent question that is part of identification and verification used by many banks and institutions that keep our personal and financial information secure. Whilst we may feel the question is harmless, if a criminal is trying to build a profile of someone, then it is another piece in the jigsaw. Questions about people’s first cars, favourite teachers and best holidays can easily be neatly packaged into something that looks fun on Social Media but is designed to gather valuable information.

Whilst “Speedy McGraw” may mean nothing to anyone else, to a criminal it is two pieces of valuable information they can use in the future not just to try to trick you into revealing more information by pretending to be from a bank or other official institute that needs to urgently discuss important matters with you, but can be very valuable to resell onto more hardened criminals whose intentions are certainly not whimsical.

A large number of people seem to think because someone is asking a question on Social Media then their identity and intentions are known and well meaning. Few of us would respond to a random email asking such questions as “Can I just ask what is your Mother’s maiden name?” nor would we give that information to a stranger who approached us in the street, but on Social Media, as part of a “bit of fun” then many people share away.

For those who are active on Social Media, it is important to ensure your have the right levels of privacy on your profiles and limit who can see that information. Is it really necessary to have your full date of birth on there for instance? All your family members? First School? Pet Names? And so on. Cyber criminals can build profiles in a matter of minutes for some people and then put in place sophisticated attacks that can be devasting.

We all have a part to play in keeping ourselves and those around us safe – a good starting point is just to think what you are sharing and who with.

Daisy May – April 2021, Milton Keynes

Nordic Football Clubs using Social Media is the go to place for stats on how football clubs are using Social Media.  Today they have published an excellent study on the state of Social Media in the Nordic football region.

“As most of European club football comes to a close this month, some areas of the continent are only just in the middle of their fixture list. In particular, the Nordic countries of Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland continue to fight it out whilst the weather isn’t so bad. With this in mind, this week we take a look at how Nordic Football Clubs are using Football Social Media to engage with their fans.

The Nordic nations are most certainly early adopters of new technology and social media. For example, the Swedish population presence in social media has massively grown in the past few years. The percentage of Internet users who visit social networks has grown from 10% to 62% over five years. The main factor for the surge in growth is down to access to computers, Internet and broadband.

The breakdown for how many of the different generations who visit social networks has shown that men aged 16-45 are the largest group. While the older generation, 46-75 years now growing the faster than any other demographic. So, with this in mind it’s no wonder that football has been one of the most popular topics on social media channels.”

Read the full report over at

Unlike Facebook, Apple actually makes something.

“Unlike Facebook, Apple actually makes something”, words uttered by myself in the office here in New York yesterday in response to the dismal Facebook IPO (which one Wall Street veteran is calling a disgraceful fiasco: “In all my years on Wall Street this is the most outrageous and egregious deal I have ever seen.”)

The debate about the social media economy built on the quicksand of advertising and the potentially bursting social media bubble will have to be the subject of another post, because the point of this post was to highlight some good ol’ fashioned manufacturing economy numbers – OK, Apple is hardly mining or automotive but you get my drift – those numbers belonging to Apple.

Image courtesy of Mashable and Sortable:

Social Networking Bill of Rights

On Thursday I will be presenting on internet usage trends at a seminar in West Hollywood, California. One of the core themes is the explosion of social media. With a giant Facebook ‘Like’ thumb on the big screen I am going to ask the audience if they all like Facebook? But not just as a social users but as concerned employers. I will then segue into recent US stories that claim some would be employers are asking (some might say, naive) interview candidates for their Facebook username and password login credentials.

(I have yet to hear if this is affecting the UK, perhaps @theballisround can enlighten readers)

Yep, let me repeat that for you:

… some would be employers are asking candidates for their Facebook username and password login credentials.

Presumably so they can mark you down for those Spring Break photos from when you just graduated, and you know, had a healthy (non) work/life balance. And those repeated photos of bachelor parties and stag do’s mean you are bound to be untrustworthy counting the company beans.

This had me wondering what the law might be? And here is a Social Media Bill of Rights to answer such questions:

Social Networking Bill of Rights
Via: Online Background Check Resource

60% of companies ignore social media enquiries!

According to a startling Cap Gemini statistic, 60% of companies ignore customers who choose to communicate via social media. We all know social media engagement is a two way street, but quite frankly this number does not surprise me. And I am most certainly firmly in the camp with the 71% of 16-24 year olds who would prefer to engage with companies online rather than in person or by phone: companies need to be aware that many of their customers do not want to talk to them, rather they wish to engage on the go via twitter, forums and the like. Many of you might have read @theballisround‘s frustrated tweets to an increasingly mute London railway operator, @NRE_SEastern of an evening; social media engagement that leaves a lot to be desired.

Read more about ‘the confusing rise of social customer service’ here.