It’s true. Social media sites provide a unique opportunity to connect with people that we would never have had the slightest chance of doing so with before, from Fortune 500 CEOs on sites like LinkedIn to Hollywood celebrities on Twitter. Check this out… an actual Twitter reply from the real Danny DeVito to a post from my son’s real girlfriend. How cool right?
Yes amazingly cool if it is Danny DeVito (which it is by the way), after all he has almost 1,200,000 Twitter followers. What awesome exposure for a comedic actress to be seen by all those eyes. On the other hand what if this wasn’t the “real” Danny DeVito and just a ploy to collect names for possibly a marketing campaign? How do you figure out if a profile is legit or fake? Here are 5 tips to help make sure your online relationships are keepin’ it real.
1. Smokin’ hot profile pic: Don’t believe someone is a boy, girl or celebrity just because their profile picture appears as such. Time to do a little research. Go to the person’s site and look around. Are they having legitimate conversations or just adding friends and followers? Even if they are conversing, evaluate what they are talking about. A scammer or con will tell you anything to get you to let your guard down. They will flirt with you, message you, poke you (virtually of course), etc. Trust your gut and if you have an ounce of doubt move on.
2. Personal pictures: Okay some people want to have some semblance of privacy. Facebook provides a setting where your photos can be viewed by only friends. Once you have taken the jump to friend someone, start looking around at his/her photos. If they don’t have any photos of themselves or if you do not recognize anyone else in their pictures. Be wary. Chances are they are not legit.
3. Verification: Twitter has a feature that helps sort out the wannabes from the real deal. In the following example the check mark in the blue circle signifies that Twitter has verified that this is Ashton Kutcher’s legitimate account.
A plus to this is that you have found the right account. A downside is that even though the account has been verified, it doesn’t mean it is updated by the celebrity. In Ashton’s case he is an avid tweeter that shares and talks with his audience. Some celebrities mix it up by doing a few postings while enlisting a social media assistant to do the rest. Some just leave it up to an assistant. It is best to keep in mind that you may not be chatting with the actual person, although you still are only one degree of separation from him or her. If your posts strikes a chord with whoever is managing the account, chances are you will get a shout out and be viewed by possibly thousands or millions of the celebrity’s followers.
4. Narcissism: Are your new friends or followers contributing to the relationship or are their posts always me, me, me focused? Maybe they are on a constant sales pitch, only talk about one company over and over, or pull the “my baby just took a poop” and I don’t have a life approach (disclaimer… I don’t hate children). My point is that social media is about communication and if the person on the other end is not engaging with you, they may be an actual person although how “real” is the relationship.
5. Get Direct: So you have done some research and are still not sure about your potential new friend’s sketchiness? Send this new person in your circle a direct message asking them how they found you, who you know in common, etc. Get personal and expect an answer. Have they listed an email or phone number? Go ahead and email or call them. It’s your life they are asking to enter, so get direct.
Fortunately in my experience with thousands of friends and followers, I have only run into a handful of fakes. They typically give themselves away in a short time. There are instances where people are duped by the promise of a shiny object. Ultimately, the responsibility falls upon each of us to be smart and not take candy from strangers. Slow your roll to friend the stud with the six pack or bikini babe. Monitor your relationships and if they go south don’t hesitate to end them abruptly.
What are your thoughts and experiences? Please share ;-)
P.S. I recommend renting and watching the movie Catfish – Enlightening.