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Brand impersonation on social media & its growing impact on businesses’ revenue
Social Media
3 mins

Brand impersonation on social media & its growing impact on businesses’ revenue

Table of Contents:

    Twitter Blue’s recent implementation has led to an increase in fake profiles on the platform, reopening the debate over the risk of social media brand impersonation and its direct impact on brands’ revenue.

    Just a few days after the $8-a-month charge for ‘blue tick’ was launched one brand lost billions, and others, credibility. At the time, all you needed was an Apple ID and a phone number to sign up for the monthly subscription that would award your profile with a blue check. Previously, the blue check was only awarded to public figures and brands whose identities had been verified by Twitter, but from December 12th onward, it has become available to anyone

    Though brand impersonation is nothing new on social media, the Twitter case is a reminder of why brands must have a plan of action to safeguard their revenue on social media networks. 

    And it’s not just Twitter: despite several brand protection programs, all social media platforms are exploited by impersonators and scammers. Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook, for instance, are major social media targets for impersonation fraud. And this issue shows no sign of slowing down. 

    Of course, by signing up to any social media platform, brands open themselves up to enormous brand-building opportunities, too—as long as they take proactive actions to stay protected from impersonators and other scammers

    In the current economic climate, increased monitoring of social media to find and report fraudulent accounts will come a long way to help your brand recover revenue that’s rightfully yours. 

    The cost of doing nothing: Examples of brands who lost revenue and credibility through social media impersonation scams

    Eli Lilly

    The pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Co., lost about 5% of its share price at the stock exchange on the day that a tweet from an impersonated account with the new Twitter Blue check went viral. The tweet, by @EliLillyandCo, read: “We are excited to announce insulin is now free,” and it was shared 3,000 times after remaining online for several hours. 

    The real Eli Lilly account, @LillyPad, contacted Twitter to get the Tweet taken down, but Twitter didn’t react for hours. The next day, the company’s stock share price tumbled by 4.37%, taking billions off of Eli Lilly’s value in one fell swoop, as political activist Rafael Shimunov pointed out. 

    Lockheed Martin

    Similarly to Eli Lilly, Lockheed Martin was another victim of the impersonation scams that multiplied during Twitter Blue’s short foray. A handle with the name @LocheedMartini used the IP of the US-based weapons maker to create a lookalike account. 

    The tweet said: “We will begin halting all weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the United States until further investigation into their record of human rights abuses.” That day, the New York Stock Exchange recorded a 5% fall in value for the weapons maker. 

    Cryptocurrency scams

    NFT marketplaces are suffering due to the sheer volume of cryptocurrency, NFT-related scams that are rife on Twitter. @Imaginary_Ones, a legitimate, growing NFT platform, was recently impersonated by accounts such as @_Imaginry_Ones and @Imaginry_Ones_, all claiming to offer to mint new NFTs for free. 

    This not only depletes the value of the NFTs themselves, but negatively affects the brand reputation and trust rating of online businesses selling NFTs, for example. 

    Why brands should start protecting their digital revenue on social media 

    According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), impersonation attacks have caused global losses upwards of $5.3 billion. The recent Twitter Blue scheme’s failure is just one example among many of how important protecting brands’ digital revenue has become. 

    An account can easily impersonate a brand on social media by stealing its photos, using a similar brand name, and copying its content. Copyright infringements are also hard to detect, raising concerns about social media’s ability to police malicious actors on the site. 

    Monitoring for infringements across social media can be extremely time-consuming, that’s why leading brands often chose to automate the process altogether. Red Points’ Revenue Recovery Platform helps brands monitor and report impersonation attacks with machine learning tools, such as keyword generation and image recognition. This means we are able to process the information retrieved across over 500 online marketplaces including Twitter to detect fakes, piracy, or impersonation and allow our customers to take scalable enforcement actions. 

    Red Points’ software automates your intellectual property enforcement by keeping a constant monitor of social media for infringements and sending takedown notices as soon as they’re identified. This technology has helped thousands of brands protect their brand reputation and revenue across the web. 

    As a brand, you simply can’t afford to risk missing out on revenue by letting infringements stay up.

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