Where there’s social media, there’s spam. That’s a simple fact of the Internet. Just as companies turn to websites like Facebook and Twitter to learn more about their customers, how their customers see them, and promote themselves, some sketchier groups hijack the names of those companies, as well as celebrity names, to lure unsuspecting users. Twitter is one of the worst places for this too, with spam accounting for 9.3% of its content.
It’s no secret that huge brands use Twitter as the world’s biggest focus group. Companies keep their ears pressed up against the wall via social media, determined to suss out what their customers think of them. It’s also no secret that social media data is full of “noise”—messy, useless, irrelevant data. Now, a new study finds that much of that “noise” is generated by links to coupon sites and celebrity retweets. Networked Insights, a Chicago-based analytics firm, recently released a report claiming many of the world’s best-known brands are primarily mentioned on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms in the form of spam, coupons, or adult content—essentially, their brands are hijacked to lure unsuspecting users to click through to unrelated material. According to Networked Insights’ research, 95% of the mentions of Rite Aid on social media are spam messages, as are mentions of Elizabeth Arden. Visa has an impressive 81% spam rate, as does rival MasterCard, with 76%. Seventy percent of mentions of Fisher-Price toys on social media are spam, while 68% of the mentions of cosmetics firm Lancome have nothing to do with consumers actually discussing the cosmetics.