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New Twitter Spam Scam Uses Fake Celebrity RTs

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Twitter

Earlier today CrunchGear reported on a new form of Twitter spam that was taking the service by storm.

What was happening was that a spam bot appears to be putting out thousands of tweets for a service that allows people to watch movies free, including Harry Potter, Ice Age 3 and the new Transformers movie. The problem being that, not only would such a service almost certainly be illegal, it doesn’t actually exist and the URLs just forwarded to what author John Biggs described as “essentially a phishing scam that eventually dumps out out into an opt-in survey scam.”

While that type of spam is not uncommon, what makes this case at least somewhat unique is that the tweets were sent in the format of fake retweets from Twitter celebrities. Such popular Twitter users as Penn Jillette, Stephen Fry and Perez Hilton have all had their names used.

It is unclear how many people are being taken in by the scam or how much risk there is to them, but it raises a lot of questions about Twitter and how safe it really is.

How the Scam Works

At this time, the tweets seemed to be fairly formulaic. If you are unsure if a tweet you’ve seen is part of this scam, see if it fits the template below:

RT @CELEBRITY-NAME (U can watch/I just watched/we just watched/etc)”MOVIE-NAME” Movie free online here YURL-LINK MOVIE-NAME

Pretty much anyone who sees these tweets should recognize that they are garbage and should be wary of the legality of watching recently released movies for free online.

Clicking the link, which I do not advise, takes you to a page that shows you a still of the movie and makes it appear you can play the film only to present you with a “survey” that you must complete before watching the film. However, according to others, filling out the survey does nothing as the process is never-ending and seems likely just an attempt to glean personal information.

In short, if the reports are correct, there’s no free movie at the end of the rainbow.

Concerns About Twitter

If the tweets, which appear to be coming from spammy usernames with many numbers at the end, would almost certainly be ignored if it were not for the fact that they were using the names of celebrities in order gain trust where, otherwise, none would exist. Combine this with the fact that many ware watching these movie titles on Twitter, it seems at least probably these tweets fooled a decent number of people.

However, as the CrunchGear article pointed out, it raises concerns about the reliability of Twitter. This spam attack, for example, puts users at the risk of identity theft and other issues while subjecting the impersonated celebrities to potential harm to their reputation.

Just like email spammers can spoof anyone else’s email address to send out their junk, any Twitter user can put words into any other Twitter user’s mouth with a fake retweet. Furthermore, they can direct other users to almost any site they want thanks to URL shortening services that make it easy to hide the real destination.

These factors make Twitter a big potential risk to both ones professional and computer security. Though anyone can always say something about you, on Twitter it is easy for others to say something as you and have other believe it. This is unlike email spam, which is very rarely seen and is almost never believed.

Though this isn’t enough to discourage me from using Twitter, the usefulness of the product has to be weighed against the potential harm, it will almost certainly give companies and celebrities some pause.

Bottom Line

The good news is that Twitter seems to finally be cleaning this mess up. As I was writing this story, the search I had open for the topic “free movie” seemed to stop working and, with a refresh, most of the spam tweets disappeared.

Still, it is only a matter of time before there is another spam attack like this one and there’s only so many times Twitter can clean up after the fact before people begin to get frustrated, annoyed and worried enough to leave.

Security seems to be a major issue for Twitter these days and this is just one facet of the problem. However, it is definitely one of the more public ones.

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Blogging

9 Blogging Communities You Can Join To Attract More Traffic To Your Blog

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Blogging is essentially building relationships between you and your readers. That’s why it is essential for any blogger to continuously find ways to increase blog traffic and attract a wider audience.

You have to have a substantial number of regular visitors or subscribers to your blog in order for the knowledge you share to gain relevance and authority.

Doing so can be a struggle, especially when you’re barely just starting a blog for the first time.

Don’t you fret. If blogging is about building relationships and sharing knowledge, joining blogging communities wil, help make the job easier for you.

Here are 9 blogging communities you can join to build your network and attract more traffic to your blog

1. Medium

This Twitter-created blogging community lets you connect with like-minded writers and industry professionals. If your blogging style is less formal and less business-like, this is a place that you just might feel comfortable in.

Medium also gives you contributor profiles where you can include links to your website. People can follow you and get updates for every post you make.

2. Blog Engage

Blog Engage is a premium blogging community and social network. Despite the £4.99 monthly fee, the site still continues to grow with almost 3500 members to date.

As a member, once you submit a blog post, your content will be open for votes from all other members. The post that garners the most upvotes gets featured on the site’s homepage.

You can also add friends and join groups for greater community involvement.

3. Kingged

Why join Kingged? Well, there’s the friendly and extremely helpful community members, for one thing. Then, there’s more! Three words, actually. Giveaways, contests and rewards!!! Still need more motivation to join? Here you go:

You can submit fresh or already existing blog posts under any topic of your choice. Great feedback from members regarding immediate results after submitting a post. Plus, you can choose to subscribe to paid packages where your content can be distributed across huge sources such as Mashable, The Huffington Post, CNN, etc.

4. Triberr

Access an endless stream of fresh content from other influencers in your niche. Share your own content with them. If you need fresh ideas for your next blog post, you’ll find a lot of sources for inspiration on Triberr.

With Triberr, you can lookup and join Tribes of your choice via categories on their drop-down menu. Prior to joining, you’ll be able to see the number of members the tribe has and how far their reach is, based on where and how far their posts are being shared.

It’s a great platform to build relationships with because you can tell who shares your posts and how frequently they do. Users can view and share your posts directly to Twitter from the website.

5. DoSplash

Fast-growing and free to use, DoSplash is another blogging community where you can get upvotes upon submitting your content.

The most upvotes your blog post gets, the more natural exposure they receive. With DoSplash, it’s easy to get more engagement for your blog.

6. Google+ Communities

Maybe you don’t find Google+ that enticing as a social media platform compared to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. But as a blogger, you’ll definitely feel the advantages of joining Google+ communities.

It’s the best blogging community you can use to build millions of audiences. For one thing, almost everyone has a Google account these days.

I’m willing to wager 100% of people who have both android phones and internet access have a Gmail account. That’s potentially millions of people you can reach by joining different communities on Google+ and sharing your content!

7. Inbound

Newbie bloggers rejoice! Inbound.org is a community that you can go to if you want to do more than just connect and build relationships with other bloggers and writers.

Especially if Internet Marketing is what got you interested in creating a blog in the first place, Inbound.org is the place for you. It’s the community where you can learn at the same time as your content gets promoted. Aside from internet and content marketing knowledge, you’ll also be able to exchange other useful information, like suggestions for the best social media marketing software, for example. More traffic to your blog + more high-value internet marketing info for you = win-win!

8. BizSugar

One of the top recommended blogging communities, BizSugar is a meeting place for active small-business administrators and owners. But no worries, membership is still free even if you don’t have a business.

There’s no end to the things you can do with BizSugar. Submit your own posts and blog content, vote, and comment on what other members share, exchange business news and marketing tips.

With a bit of effort, you can make getting into BizSugar’s weekly Top 10 members your goal to maximize the potential for content promotion and engagement.

9. LinkedIn Groups

LinkedIn has continuously evolved throughout the years. It’s not just your online, ever-ready resume anymore.

Unlike the thousands of groups you can find on Facebook, LinkedIn Groups allows you to build a more professional and targeted network.

Share valuable insights in the group forums and share your content with thousands of members. Explore other topics of interest, like the qualities of successful bloggers, for example. That’s a good starting point for conversations and/or posts.

Your blog posts might even make it to LinkedIn Pulse. LinkedIn editors will then promote these for wider visibility and circulation.

Conclusion

There are three basic reasons why you’ll want to join blogging communities:

  1. build friendships and relationships
  2. get support whenever you need a boost
  3. get honest opinions, critiques and helpful suggestions that will go a long way into helping you become the blogger that you dream of becoming

Being a member of a blogging community is a rewarding experience. If you’re not yet one, try and join any of the communities listed above and find out for yourself exactly how beneficial being connected can be.

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Blogging

Qoruz – Removing the Influencer Brand Vacuum

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Qoruz Brand Engagement

The role of online social influencers as an opinion leader and consumer decision influencer has been increasingly recognized and leveraged by brands in the last few years. Brands proactively seek these influential social media power users to promote their products on platforms like a blog, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter.

When brands perform outreach marketing with a specific objective such as strengthening their social media followership, driving traffic to their website, or brand engagement effectiveness with reference to earlier branding campaigns, bloggers usually find it difficult to present the data and statistics in a meaningful and an effective manner.

If you are a blogger and have faced this scenario before, there’s a solution for you – Qoruz. Qoruz is a new-age social intelligence platform that enables brand-influencer collaborations in the smartest and simplest ways.

What is Qoruz?

Qoruz has been developed by the India-based firm Datrux Systems Pvt. Ltd. The unique search, discovery, and outreach platform aims to create the largest database of influencers on the planet along with their quantified online social influence, and to connect brands and influencers in a single, easy-to-use and monitor interface, all in an effort to make influencer marketing more prominent and the mainstay for branding efforts.

Once you create an account on Qoruz, the platform synchronizes all your selected social accounts and blog statistics and shows real-time metrics to an interested brand. I like that they call it a blogger’s media kit; the term media kit is something that every brand, advertising/media, and PR agency understand and the term implies that it holds all the information a brand needs to decide whether to engage with the blogger or not.

Qoruz Bloggers Media Kit

Creating the media kit takes a couple of minutes. Sign up for free, here. You can sign up with a social media account, and Qoruz retrieves the details that you can further edit.

Step 1:

Your basic profile details are collected.

Qoruz Media Kit

Step 2:

You move on to synchronize other social accounts. You can choose to skip the step and add these accounts later. Tip: Adding a brief introduction in the ‘About’ section and choosing your category of influence helps brands know exactly who you are and what’s your area of expertise, and accordingly only the most relevant opportunities come your way.

Once done, Qoruz will send an update to the registered email id with a link to your media kit page. For reference, you can see mine here.

Step 3:

Qoruz also integrates a work portfolio equivalent into your media kit. You can add previous brand collaborations from the profile editing page. The Featured In, Contributed In, and Brands Worked With sections are good ways to categorize your work and help a brand understand your work profile in a better way.

As of now, you can connect Twitter, Facebook Page, YouTube, Instagram, and Blog accounts.

To make it easy to spread your profile, you have a media kit link to share with potential clientele.

Points to Note

A couple of things to keep in mind. Note that these factors could change in future; therefore, do your due diligence.

#1 Adding a Blog

Qoruz offers the following three options:

Qoruz Connections

My experience says that brands might not be really interested to associate with bloggers running blogs on the free WordPress and BlogSpot channels. Authoritative and influential bloggers usually don’t run a blog on a free WordPress setup, and BlogSpot doesn’t even come into consideration.

Alternatively, you can synchronize the blogs through Google Analytics API. It will give Qoruz access to the data of the intended blog.

#2 Restrictive Brand Linking

Maybe because Qoruz is new, I couldn’t add many of the brands I worked with in the profile because their automated brand fetching system wouldn’t show the name.

I tried adding Business2Community.com in the section for Contributed In but I couldn’t. Unless they keep updating their database for names, it will be tough for bloggers to present a comprehensive profile influence to an intended brand and vice versa.

Influencer Opportunities

Once your media kit is setup, you can expect to receive opportunities basis your influence and relevance. Since the platform is completely democratized and data-driven, your work and profile will speak for themselves, and bring the most relevant brands to your doorstep. There are six kinds of opportunities to avail:

  1. Event Invitations
  2. Product Reviews
  3. Sponsored Content
  4. Exclusive Passes
  5. Press Release
  6. Gifts & Rewards

Brand Connect

Whenever a brand comes to your Qoruz media page, there is a prompt to Connect. Qoruz offers a unique communication portal called Messenger that helps brands and influencers get in touch and stay connected easily and consistently.

Closing Note

Qoruz is a brand and influencer collaboration platform, with the potential to redefine the way influencer marketing is considered and implemented in India right now. I will recommend it for two reasons:

  1. Concise and updated media kit that is shareable and updates in real-time.
  2. Global exposure to brands.

If you try out Qoruz or have already tried it, tell us about your experience in the comments section below.

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Blogging

How Is The Online Travel Market Connecting With Consumers?

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The digital transformation of the travel and tourism industry has enabled companies and bloggers to connect with customers via a number of different platforms. Gone are the days when the only way to book a holiday was by entering a brick and mortar store, consumers can now inform their decisions with a wealth of online information and connect and engage with travel brands directly. Travel bloggers are in a unique position as they can cultivate more personal and ongoing relationships with their readership using high-quality content, guest posts, competitions, social media and networking.

Travel Bloggers

Travel brand consumers and readers are currently among the best to target as they are constantly producing their own content. There are scores of adventure videos on YouTube, resort recommendations on Twitter and vacation images and photos on Instagram and Pinterest. Tapping into this user-generated content via an effective social media strategy can help bloggers to engage and influence their readers and reach a wider audience. Launching hashtag and photo sharing competitions, for example, is a great way to generate additional social content and boost search engine optimization (SEO). This type of ‘word of mouth’ content is powerful as research shows that 92% of consumers trust personal recommendations more than any other form of advertising.

Finding a niche

Travel blogs cannot be all things to all people so try to concentrate on a particular niche, such as practical advice, city breaks, world food, celebrity travel gossip, budget tips or luxury and market to a target audience and readership within the travel industry. However, while content is likely to be generally focused, marketing can be aimed at outside the niche so posts on finance or life-hack sites, for example, might help to reach new outside audiences aligned with that particular niche.

Attracting readers is the number one priority and this requires consistent, high-quality content and a great marketing strategy. The biggest companies in the travel industry now understand the importance of connecting and engaging with consumers on a daily basis. It is important to be visible through as many channels as possible so join networking groups and connect with other bloggers and try to leave comments and share posts. Building personal relationships with readers is incredibly important so make sure to share content through every social media channel available. The rise of mobile devices is also changing how consumers interact with travel brands with recent research showing that 65% of same-day hotel reservations are made by smartphone. Tailoring content for mobile is now incredibly important so bloggers should begin to adopt a ‘mobile first’ mindset for content to improve marketing and SEO.

World Escape

Travel website World Escape is a leading example of how high-quality content can increase customer engagement. It uses social media channels including Facebook, Google+, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram to help people to “find the perfect place to stay”. World Escape posts regular content on these platforms and shares informative tips from across the web to appeal to its readership. Its core website also uses real accommodation photos and location maps to provide an incredibly accurate representation of Dubai vacation apartments and other hotels while live help and comments enable them to connect with customers and answer their questions and queries.

Social success

Many of the world’s biggest airlines use social media to improve their brand image, communicate with customers and gain popularity. Singapore Airlines uses Twitter as a key tool for branding by posting gorgeous photos of picturesque hotels and settings complete with the company logo in the bottom right-hand corner, which dovetails with its reputation as an affordable, luxury brand. Meanwhile, Turkish Airlines uses hashtags in order to build authenticity, focusing on ‘genuine relevance’ when posting key phrases to gain more engagement. This is what sets it apart from the many overused hashtags on the Twitter platform. Emirates is another airline that uses images to engage readers with its own unique ‘theme’ on Instagram, which involves showing people holding up an Emirates flag in different locations across the globe. This is incredibly effective as it is a long-term, evergreen marketing strategy which ties in with the airlines ability to transport people to all four corners of the globe.

Social media is now the cornerstone of an effective marketing strategy for bloggers as it transforms networking activities. To boost social media management, try to offer current information and news to remain relevant, use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and similar platforms as branding tools. It is also important to be a ‘social listener’ so retweet and share insightful posts and use hashtags and content to get people involved and increase audience interaction. Social media can be supplemented other online marketing methods such as banner ads, Google ads and video for the best results.

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