How To Hijack Facebook Likes, and Other Social Engineering

The Pinterest Giveaway Scam got pretty big today; at one point about 10% of Pinterest homepage pins were scam pins. In addition to the Starbucks offer, I counted at least three others -- for H&M, iPhone (of course), and GAP.

What fascinates me about the scam is the authors' crafty use of recognizable social media symbols to create an illusion of authenticity, and -- more importantly -- an illusion of endorsement. In other words, exploitation of cognitive biases, also known as social engineering.

Let's take a closer look at the "Starbucks" page (now available at but likely not for long). What do we see?

The Illustrated Anatomy of a Viral Pinterest Scam

Update: Part II - How The Scammers Hijacked Facebook Likes

It started with a tweet from a friend:

Never one to pass a scam, I dutifully clicked and landed on a page with this URL:

Instead Of Sales, They Seek Applause

From a book about which David Ogilvy is quoted as saying: "Nobody, at any level, should be allowed to have anything to do with advertising until he has read this book seven times":

 "Advertising is salesmanship. Its principles are the principles of salesmanship. Successes and failures in both lines are due to like causes. Thus every advertising question should be answered by the salesman's standards.

Let us emphasize that point. The only purpose of advertising is to make sales. It is profitable or unprofitable according to its actual sales. It is not for general effect. It is not to keep your name before the people. It is not primarily to aid your other salesmen. Treat it as a salesman. Force it to justify itself. Compare it with other salesmen. Figure its cost and result. Accept no excuses which good salesmen do not make. Then you will not go far wrong. The difference is only in degree. Advertising is multiplied salesmanship. It may appeal to thousands while the salesman talks to one. It involves a corresponding cost. Some people spend $10 per word on an average advertisement. Therefore every ad should be a super-salesman.

Why Facebook Will Do Search And Why Google Needs Social

Mark Zuckerberg posted a picture of himself in front of his computer, and an eagle-eyed blogger noticed that his version of Facebook sports a larger-than-usual search box. An unintended leak or not, Facebook competing in search is only a matter of time just as, in retrospect, it was inevitable that Google would integrate social elements deeper into its main product.

This is why.

Convert Your RSS Into Email Newsletters With Ads

This is a sponsored post.

RevResponse, a company that helps bloggers make money by selling and giving away white papers and magazine subscriptions, has a new nifty tool that converts a blog's RSS feed into an email with automatically inserted promo offers.

RevResponse's aptly named RSS to Email Tool is a welcome addition to the pretty small group of  RSS converters. A field once teeming with start-ups, it is now the domain of a few email newsletter providers, notably MailChimp,  and Feedburner,  a once innovative product that has become stale after its sale to Google and the departure of Dick Costolo to the greener pastures of Twitter.

Like other similar tools out there, RSS to Email takes your most recent posts and packages them into a template of your choice. The templates come in a range of colors, and while they are not likely to win any beauty pageants the tool does come with a fairly flexible scheduling system that allows you to send digests of your brilliance either once a month, once a week, or on any combination of days of your choice.

Importantly -- and uniquely -- the tool adds rather unobtrusive ads for contextually chosen whitepapers or other publications right into your blogomail: either a set of text links or an ad with a thumbnail of the publication's cover. If you run a marketing blog, advertised publications could range from HubSpot's white papers and something called Chief Social Marketer to the awesomely esoteric niche B2B pubs such as Perishables Buyer and Archery Business.