As social media and online shopping becomes increasingly popular, brand scams and fake accounts similarly grow on an unprecedented scale. These kinds of scams have especially made their way into the realm of ambassador marketing, where innocent social media users are targeted by fake accounts to endorse brands that they have no true affiliation with.
Fraudsters have become exceptionally skilled at creating entire websites that appear deceptively convincing. So deceptive in fact, that ordinary consumers can’t tell the difference in most cases. These same fraudsters even create social media pages claiming to be the voice of a brand as they lure you into handing over your personal information.
In order to avoid falling victim to a brand scam, we’ve compiled a list of what to look out for when contacted by a company for the purpose of ambassador marketing.
One of the first telltale signs of online identity theft or a brand scam is the appearance of any sort of formatting, spelling or grammatical errors. If you’ve received a message from a social media account that is riddled with unusual writing mistakes, then you’re well within reason to question the validity of that account. Poor quality images that look pixelated or are cropped in a strange manner often also indicate that the account is fake.
Look Out for an Official URL and Blue Tick
There’s no denying the alluring nature of a message from a brand asking you to become its ambassador, but if there’s no blue tick verifying the social media account then we’d recommend you proceed with caution. Social platforms like Instagram and Twitter developed the blue tick function specifically to combat the overwhelming amount of fake accounts made on a daily basis. If a brand seemingly contacts you, but there’s no blue tick beside their name, then all signs point towards it being a scam.
If you are redirected to the website of a brand, but the URL ends in something other than an internationally-recognised domain suffix (like ‘.com’ or ‘.co.uk’) then it may also be considered a fake account. Fraudsters use a tactic in which they slightly misspell the official URL of a brand so that it looks legitimate. Hence, if you’re redirected to a site claiming to be Adidas, but it’s spelt ‘Addidas,’ then the website is fake. Brands usually only have one website and it is normally listed on their official social media accounts. Always remember to go to their verified socials and check what their official website address is.
Be Wary of Sending Personal Details
Ambassador marketing coordinators rarely contact potential ambassadors requesting photographs or asking them to confirm personal information such as banking details right off the bat. Any account claiming to represent a well-known brand will not employ you as an ambassador in this way. If you’re asked to give away personal information so that they can confirm whether you are legitimate, view this as a giant red flag.
Extra tip: Help the brand by reporting the imposter account to their customer service team.
The Promise of Commission or Exposure
Influencer marketing expert Erica James warns social media users to watch out for companies asking you to buy the product upfront in exchange for exposure or commission. Speaking to Global News, Erica noted, “As an influencer, you’re putting in a lot of work to promote a brand and you absolutely deserve to be paid for that, so whenever a brand is asking you to pay, whether it’s just to pay for shipping, I always say don’t do it.”
Erica also advises social media users to question the authenticity of companies that comment on your photos to DM them, or if the companies bio says ‘DM to collab’. Additionally, she cautions users that they should certainly be sceptical if they’ve never heard of the brand before.
Quick Takeaway Points to Remember When Approached by a Brand for Ambassador Marketing:
- If you receive a message and it contains strange grammatical errors or formatting, then it’s very likely from a fake account.
- If you notice the profile that contacted you only uploaded photos in the last few months and the photos are of poor quality, then it is almost certainly an imposter account.
- Be aware that brands don’t comment ‘DM to work with us’ on photos. Instead, brands who take ambassador marketing seriously will have a page on their website that’s dedicated to recruiting ambassadors, like this one from Huel. Also be careful of social pages with ‘DM to collab’ in the bio.
- Legitimate brands will not ask you for personal details such as banking info and passwords or private photographs. Query these requests immediately.
- Brands asking you to pay upfront for items in exchange for exposure should be questioned. As an ambassador, you should be paid for your efforts, whether that’s in the form of a commission fee or receiving free products — not the other way around.
- If you’re contacted by a brand you’ve never heard of before, make sure you do a proper background check. Alternatively, if you are contacted by a popular brand, but the account is not verified by a blue tick, then it could be an imposter account. When in doubt, reach out to the verified brand directly to ask them if they intended to send you an invite to their ambassador programme.
- Dodgy URL’s that spell a renowned brand’s name slightly wrong are fake websites. Always check the correct spelling of a brand’s URL on their verified social pages.
Brandbassador is a reputable online platform through which we connect social media users with brands through brand ambassador campaigns and missions. Our aim is to connect companies with people that already genuinely love their products. Our work helps prevent fraudulent dealings by ensuring that real brands are connected with real people. If you’d like to learn more, book a demo with us today.