Digital Marketing and Social Media Strategy

How To Stop Spam

Photo by: lyzadanger

A few weeks ago at Gnomedex one of the speakers sparked a thought in my head. Admitted ex-black hat spammer, Todd Friesen spoke to the crowd about how he use to spam blog and forum comments and create splogs for money. I should add here that he seems like a good guy now, so give him a break. It took him a lot of courage to get up on stage and admit to what he use to do.

During the Question & Answer period I challenged him to connect with Ronni Bennett, a self-titled “elder blogger”. I met Ronni at Gnomedex three years ago when she spoke about browser and content design for our elders. Ronni’s blog has a big audience of older folks as subscribers and contributors. Her blog seemed like a perfect place for Todd to write a post about how spammers operate.

I’ve been thinking about how we can help educate our parents and grandparents on how to identify spam and phishing schemes. The truth is that online scams would not exist if they did not work. The very young would be naive enough to fall for spam online, but they do not have bank accounts. This leaves me assuming that the majority of victims are the older people in our lives.

How can we teach our elders to spot a scam online?

Photo by: lyzadanger

Dave

http://www.davemadethat.com

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  • dbstewart

    First, you must answer the question: “How do we teach elders?” The key hurdle will be recognizing and adjusting to the generational differences. That may be more difficult for Gen-X and Gen-Y. The differences force you to slow down and relate to things you may not have experienced in a pre-electronic world. You may have to let go of things you take for granted in order to reach out.

    Adjust terminology, examples, and experience to the listeners level. Relate to similar concepts in the typewritten, hand-filed, brick and mortar world. You may have to do some historical research to learn those older concepts. Learn before you teach!

    Older folk are often wiser, wilier, and more aware than some younger presenters may expect or accept. Expect to learn something and adapt your training to what you learn (it may change with every group!).

    Another hurdle will be informing without terrorizing. You must instill the need to embrace e-access while truthfully communicating the fact that electronic data isn't terribly secure (it's not, so learn that now if you think otherwise) in the first place as its access relies on other personal information, much of which is already publicly available.

    Focus on the rate at which information is globally avaialble. Microseconds. That may be difficult for some to wrap their heads around. The crook is gone before you knew he was there. There's no one to describe to the cop, no one to chase down and slam to the pavement. You must rely on yourself more than ever.

    That nuggets of accessibility and speed of dissemination may be the crux of the training. In many cases, it doesn't take much for a black hat to compromise your world. Once compromised, the loss may be transmitted globally. Pay attention to the little things. That's hard to do at any age.

    Also, consider i-Safe training content. It's age-appropriate safety courseware for all.

  • dbstewart

    I forgot to mention: KNOW AND LEARN YOUR AUDIENCE. You need to be prepared for the knowledge and experience level of the target audience. That's not always possible, but listening is. LISTEN to the audience and adjust your approach as needed. Active listening bonds you with the group and opens other channels to acceptance and learning for all involved.

  • Offline – absolutely. The issue is targetting a primarily offline mindset. You can utilize online presentation tools and examples, but real touch is good and will reinforce risk and direction to specific online resources.

    Online marketing and training is less effective, in my thinking. i-SAFE is online for material delivery and initial instructor training, but their focus is on personal, peer training. I’m a boomer, but also a career technologist. I’m also a writer (technical and creative) with a former bent on multimedia journalism. I’ve even developed and performed training in the past. I currently manage SM and publicity for a local writer’s group (cww-writers.org). Our base group is an age mix, but leans heavily to boomer and pre-boomer.

    IMNSHO – Adwords (et al) are over-hyped clutter. If I’m searching for a bargain at a store or a website, I’m focused on the bargain – not the clutter. I generally ignore fliers, too. Fliers work well as additional information following the “hook”. Occasionally I may get distracted by something shiny and take another look, but not often. TMI to parse, so the excess gets filtered. Maybe I’m an odd-ball, but I doubt it.

    So, how do you hook the desired group? How about supplementing fliers and newsletters from groups the targets already belong to? The supplement should schedule a meet-up. Peer with their organizations and help the organizations communicate. Meet with those organizations that already focus on and trusted by seniors (community, church, retirement planning, insurance).

    Then, feed the seed. Don’t just cast to the wind and move on. Something may or may not grow out of those communications. Seek the new sprouts. Be transparent and accessible for them and follow up. Of course, that’s all easily said. ;-)

  • This is a great comment, thanks. You make some great points.
    I think the education portion might have to occur offline as well as online.
    A flier at the grocery store or doctor's office would help.

    I'm a marketing person, so I always think in the *what's in it for me *mindset.
    So, the grocery store chain could have a link on the flier to a Stop Spam
    page on their site. This way it will drive traffic so visitors will be able
    to see daily specials, etc.

    D

  • This is great advice too. Chatting with family might be a good place to
    start, if you don't have direct contact with elders.

    Thanks again!
    D

  • dbstewart

    Offline – absolutely. The issue is targetting a primarily offline mindset. You can utilize online presentation tools and examples, but real touch is good and will reinforce risk and direction to specific online resources.

    Online marketing and training is less effective, in my thinking. i-SAFE is online for material delivery and initial instructor training, but their focus is on personal, peer training. I'm a boomer, but also a career technologist. I'm also a writer (technical and creative) with a former bent on multimedia journalism. I've even developed and performed training in the past. I currently manage SM and publicity for a local writer's group (cww-writers.org). Our base group is an age mix, but leans heavily to boomer and pre-boomer.

    IMNSHO – Adwords (et al) are over-hyped clutter. If I'm searching for a bargain at a store or a website, I'm focused on the bargain – not the clutter. I generally ignore fliers, too. Fliers work well as additional information following the “hook”. Occasionally I may get distracted by something shiny and take another look, but not often. TMI to parse, so the excess gets filtered. Maybe I'm an odd-ball, but I doubt it.

    So, how do you hook the desired group? How about supplementing fliers and newsletters from groups the targets already belong to? The supplement should schedule a meet-up. Peer with their organizations and help the organizations communicate. Meet with those organizations that already focus on and trusted by seniors (community, church, retirement planning, insurance, neighborhood watch).

    Then, feed the seed. Don't just cast to the wind and move on. Something may grow out of those communications. Seek the new sprouts. Be transparent and accessible for them and follow up. Of course, that's all easily said. ;-)

  • rodneymccarthy

    Dave,

    Great post.

    As one who works with the Medicare crowd on a daily basis (I sell home medical equipment), I can tell you it is true – more seniors are turning to the internet(or internets as they call it) for there information and transactions.

    If there's one suggestion I might add, it would be to keep your message simple.

    When phone scams became popular, we educated our parents and grandparents with basic rules such as “never give out your personal info over the phone.” The same can be true for the internet.

    Think about the basic rules of etiquette and translate them to 3 basic rules.

    Rodney

  • Great to hear from you Rodney. Good example too.

    What should those simple rules be?

    D

  • rodneymccarthy

    hmmm…

    I probably need help from those in the online community to craft the perfect 3 rules.

    I would say:

    1. If anyone sends you an online communication asking for personal information, it's probably a scam.

    2. Learn how to identify spam and assign it to the spam folder (like junk mail via traditional mail)

    3. If it's too good to be true, it's a scam.

    ?????

    I don't know, what do think?

  • I think those are great rules. Especially #3.

    I also think that companies like banks never require you to log in to
    anything from your email.

    D

  • joandunard

    Tell that that if it sounds too good to be true it most likely is and don't send that Money to get the Christian Princess to America. I visited my banker at Wells Fargo recently and he says that almost daily they have older people asking about sending thousands of dollars off – sometimes after the fact and their bank account is bare. I just couldn't believe people are still falling for scams.

    The other thing to teach them is how not to forward emails (with the addresses of all their friends) when they get those “cute Maxine” cartoons, etc. I somehow cannot get my mother-in-law of 91 to “get this!”

    Lastly, the phishing is probably the worst – their bank sent it right? There is a spam filter on AOL so it must be OK and it says Bank of America or whatever on it. Call you bank or log in to your account – don't just give information over the internet. Your bank won't ask for your ss# over the internet!!

    I think we need to send it via snail mail – with some authority they respect such as via the US Post Office or their local county administration or utility.

    Thanks!

  • Agreed. I also love http://www.bccplease.com.

    D

  • I think those are great rules. Especially #3.

    I also think that companies like banks never require you to log in to
    anything from your email.

    D

  • joandunard

    Tell that that if it sounds too good to be true it most likely is and don't send that Money to get the Christian Princess to America. I visited my banker at Wells Fargo recently and he says that almost daily they have older people asking about sending thousands of dollars off – sometimes after the fact and their bank account is bare. I just couldn't believe people are still falling for scams.

    The other thing to teach them is how not to forward emails (with the addresses of all their friends) when they get those “cute Maxine” cartoons, etc. I somehow cannot get my mother-in-law of 91 to “get this!”

    Lastly, the phishing is probably the worst – their bank sent it right? There is a spam filter on AOL so it must be OK and it says Bank of America or whatever on it. Call you bank or log in to your account – don't just give information over the internet. Your bank won't ask for your ss# over the internet!!

    I think we need to send it via snail mail – with some authority they respect such as via the US Post Office or their local county administration or utility.

    Thanks!

  • Agreed. I also love http://www.bccplease.com.

    D