Facebook Scams in the UK
by Jo Shaer, on March 21, 2012
August 2013 update. This article about Facebook scams in the UK was originally published in March 2012 but, as is shown in the comment below, there are still scammers around.
Having said that, for the last few months, Facebook themselves have set up a European marketing division which makes a habit of calling up business owners to help with their Facebook marketing. In most cases, you are required to spend a minimum amount each month in order to qualify for their help. Business owners need to be careful not to be persuaded to engage in a campaign that might be beyond their budget.
As in all cases where the big internet advertising companies are offering to help you spend your money, you need to be aware that their advice may not always have your best interests at heart.
For advertising assistance, the best course of action is to find a local company that you can meet face to face and who comes recommended for their performance by other business owners that you trust.
"Hello, I'm John from Facebook and [name of my client] asked me to call you."
"No you're not!"
"Yes, I'm John from Facebook!"
"Don't be ridiculous! Are you saying that you are a legal representative of Facebook? Who are you really from?"
"Well, *mumbles something to do with clicks*... but we're licensed by Facebook"
"OK, so what do you want?"
"Well, if you buy an ad through us you can be the only company in your area that will show up in the four ads on Facebook for complementary therapies and massage."
"No, that can't possibly be true. Facebook need the money. There is no way they are going to offer exclusivity for niches and locations in ads."
A few more searching questions revealed that the exclusive nature of this offer was restricted to that particular company for that niche and I'm still not sure how they could guarantee that.
Apparently, they will produce a picture and the advertising copy and I can get unlimited clicks and impressions for £178/month but with a special offer for the first month of £142 inc VAT.
Naturally, I wanted to know more and asked where the ads would click through to?
"Your website or your Facebook Page"
"You mean my Facebook wall?"
"Your website or your Facebook Page"
"So you would do a dedicated landing page for the ad included in the price?"
John went quiet as I explained that to run an effective Facebook ad campaign you needed a dedicated landing page to give any interested parties the information they needed in one place rather than having to search the wall for it.
"Well, we do have designers so I guess we could do that" he fumbled reluctantly.
From this it became apparent that this was not an offer I would be taking up since they clearly had very little idea of how to run a successful Facebook ad campaign.
And then I remembered how the man had come to call me in the first place. He had actually telephoned one of my clients who didn't have a clue what he was talking about but knows that he can pass such people on to me if they won't leave him alone.
And this salesman was going through some form of business directory, shamelessly picking out local business owners to tempt into what is little short of a scam by purporting to be from Facebook itself.
I'm afraid he got the benefit of both barrels.
I told him that what he was doing was shameful and misrepresentation. He was wrongly identifying himself to vulnerable local business owners who might really believe that he was from Facebook and would not understand what he was offering them or have the skills and experience to ask the questions that I had to fully get to grips with what they were getting - or not getting for their money. As I said it out loud, I realised what a nice little earner he was on to.
John went very quiet for a moment... and then tried frantically to move me on to somewhere that he felt more comfortable. But I was on a roll...
"And," I said. "if I was to take you up on this offer, how will you be measuring the success of this campaign so that I can ascertain my return on any investment?"
"Well, we will be able to tell you how many impressions, how many clicks and where they have come from."
Bearing in mind the paucity of the metrics that had been forthcoming from our own experience, I have asked to be emailed a full schedule of the metrics that will be produced so I can ascertain my ROI, along with a full quote for the exact offer that they are making.
I will let you know if any such email is forthcoming because somehow I think John's card has been marked to the extent that he won't be wanting to work with me.
But that doesn't mean that he won't have acquired an awful lot of £142s from local business owners who don't understand the nature of such Facebook scams.
One of our operatives actually tried one of these services on your behalf and it was found wanting to the extent that it cost £300 for 2 likes on Facebook. We have no idea how many clicks materialised because they would only ever show us metrics for impressions. But do the math - it was a very unsuccessful campaign.
And actually cancelling it proved to be very difficult as well. Each time he rang them to give notice, they would insist that he had to give a month but somehow the cancellation did not happen and the payments kept being taken.
Eventually the bank and credit card company had to be brought in to reimburse our man for the amounts that continued to be taken from his account long after he thought the arrangement had been cancelled.
You have been warned.
For advice on using Facebook for your business, see our Welcome To Facebook page.
If you're looking to use a variety of social media platforms in your marketing, find out about the need to develop a proper social media strategy.