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Do Not Click… Common Schemes to Look Out for Over the Holidays and Beyond

The holiday season is a time of joy, celebration, and unfortunately, increased cyber threats. As we exchange gifts and festive greetings online, cybercriminals are working diligently to exploit the holiday spirit for their own gain. It’s crucial to stay vigilant and informed about the common cyber schemes that tend to surge during this time of year and beyond. Here are some examples to help you navigate the digital landscape safely.

1. Phishing Scams: Naughty Emails in Disguise

Phishing scams are a perennial threat, but they often become more sophisticated during the holidays. Cybercriminals send emails that appear to be from reputable sources, such as shipping companies or online retailers, asking recipients to confirm personal information or track a package. Clicking on the links in these emails can lead to malware installation or credential theft.

Example: You receive an email or text message claiming to be from a well-known delivery service, asking you to click on a link to track a package. Before you click, verify the sender’s email address or phone number and double-check with the actual delivery service through their official website or customer service.

2. Can You Hear Me? The Phone Call Scam That Speaks Volumes

In this devious phone scam, scammers ask innocent-sounding questions like “Can you hear me?” or “Is this [your name]?” during a call. The twist? They’re recording your response with the sinister intent of using it against you later. A casual “Yes” from you becomes a voice recording in their hands, ready to be manipulated to make it seem like you’ve agreed to fraudulent charges or entered into a fake contract. Stay alert to these audio schemes during the holiday season!

Example: you receive a call from an unfamiliar number. The caller, using a friendly tone, asks, “Can you hear me okay?” Instead of responding with a straightforward “Yes,” respond with phrases like “I can hear you fine” or inquire about the caller’s identity before providing any affirmative answer.

3. Gift Card Scams: 'Tis Better to Receive Than Be Deceived

Gift cards are a popular and convenient present during the holiday season, but cybercriminals have found ways to exploit them. Scammers may impersonate friends or family, asking for gift card codes via email or social media, claiming they need help or are in a difficult situation.

Example: You receive a message from a friend urgently asking for gift card codes to help them out of a supposed tight spot. Always verify such requests through a separate means of communication before taking any action.

4. Facebook Business Account Removal Scam: Protecting Your Online Presence

Scammers are deploying a new tactic to exploit business owners on social media platforms. The Facebook Business Account Removal Scam is a scheme that preys on the fear of losing one’s online presence. 

Example: Business owners receive a Facebook message claiming to be from the platform’s support team. The message warns that their business account is at risk of removal due to policy violations or unauthorized activities. To rectify the supposed issue, the scammer instructs the user to click on a link or provide sensitive information.

Fear of losing access to a business account can prompt quick and unthinking reactions. Clicking on the provided link may lead to a phishing site designed to steal login credentials or inject malware into the user’s device. Alternatively, providing personal information directly to the scammer could result in identity theft or unauthorized access to business-related accounts.

Authentic communication from Facebook will generally come through official channels. Double-check the sender’s profile, and if in doubt, contact Facebook directly through their official support channels.

5. Social Media Scams: Festive Frauds in Your Feed

With the increased use of social media during the holidays, scammers leverage these platforms for various schemes. Be cautious of fake contests, giveaways, or friend requests from unfamiliar profiles.

Example: You come across a post claiming to offer a fantastic holiday giveaway, requiring you to input personal information. Always verify the legitimacy of such offers directly through the official channels of the alleged organizer.

Give The Gift of Cybersecurity Awareness

As the holiday season unfolds with joy and festivities, it also brings an unfortunate surge in cyber threats. In the spirit of giving and connecting online, cybercriminals are tirelessly working to exploit vulnerabilities. To navigate this digital landscape safely, arm yourself with knowledge about prevalent scams, from phishing emails to phone call schemes, gift card cons, and social media deceptions.

Click carefully, respond to calls wisely, and double-check before sharing sensitive info. Remember, the most wonderful time of the year should also be the most secure time in the digital realm.

Share this information with friends and family to ensure a safe and secure online experience this season.

5 Secret Ingredients: A Recipe for Social Media Marketing Success in 2023

In the fast-moving world of the internet, social media marketing has grown into a crucial tool for businesses to connect with their audiences. It wasn’t too long ago when these platforms were just for talking to friends and family. But things have changed a lot. In a recent survey, over 90% of marketers said that social media has greatly boosted their brand’s visibility. This means that if you’re not using social media for your business, you’re missing out on a big opportunity.

In this article, we’ll uncover the hidden treasures of social media marketing, just like a chef reveals the secret sauce that makes a dish extraordinary. 

1. Social Media and SEO: Serving Up Important Content

You might wonder what social media has to do with making your website show up on search engines.

The idea is simple: search engines know which pages on your website get visitors. When your content gets shared on social media, it sends people to your website. This tells search engines that your website is still important, and it helps your site stay high up in search results. Obviously, more individuals are exposed to your content when more individuals share it.

It’s like having a secret spice that makes your dish unforgettable. When your website consistently receives traffic from social media referrals, search engines interpret it as a signal of relevance and credibility. Consequently, they prioritize displaying your website in search results, increasing its visibility to a wider audience.

This effect can make your website’s online presence much stronger and bring in even more free traffic. 

2. Know Your Audience's Taste

Social media is a bit like a detective tool. By paying attention to the people who follow you, you can learn a lot about your target audience. Just by checking out their profiles and the other pages they like, you can figure out what they like to buy, what they enjoy doing, and which brands they prefer.

Understanding your audience’s preferences and interests allows you to tailor your content and marketing strategies to effectively engage with them. By leveraging this knowledge, you can create personalized experiences that resonate with your target audience, fostering stronger connections and increasing customer loyalty.

Ultimately, this invaluable insight enables you to stay ahead of the competition and deliver exceptional value to your customers. The more you know about your audience, the better you can make your products or services fit their tastes. 

3. Creating the Best Flavor for a Strong Brand and Relationships

People don’t visit social media to look at ads. They go there to chat and have fun. So, when you talk to your audience and make friends with them, it helps you build a strong brand and connections.

Social media is not just about keeping your old customers happy but also about finding new ones. By engaging with your audience on social media, you can be the one who brings the best dish to the party.

Showcase your brand’s personality and values, and make it easier for potential customers to connect with you. Additionally, by actively participating in conversations and sharing valuable content, you can attract new customers who may not have been aware of your business before. 

4. Stirring Up Your Message for a Second Chance

What if you could cook up a winning meal that hits the spot every time?

On social media, you can! You can choose who gets to see your ads, making sure they’re the right people. 

And here’s the fun part – if someone almost became your customer but didn’t quite make it, you can give them a second chance. It’s like having a secret cooking technique that never fails. 

By targeting specific demographics and interests, you can ensure that your message reaches the right audience, which is more likely to be interested in your products or services. Additionally, by retargeting those who have shown interest but didn’t convert, you can remind them of what they missed out on and entice them to give your business another try.

5. Affordably Appetizing

You might have thought that you needed a lot of money to do marketing on social media. But it’s not true! Making a business profile is free, and so is chatting with your fans. 

If you decide to advertise on social media, you can start small if you want. The great thing about social media is that it’s fair. Big brands might have more money for ads, but anyone can make a social media account for free and talk to their audience. Social media platforms also offer affordable advertising options, allowing you to reach a wider audience without breaking the bank. 

With targeted ads and analytics, you can ensure that your marketing efforts are reaching the right people and generating a positive return on investment. 

So don’t let budget constraints hold you back from leveraging the power of social media for your business. You can have your marketing cake and eat it, too!

In a nutshell, social media marketing is no longer just a choice for businesses; it’s a necessity. 

This smorgasbord of hidden secrets about social media marketing shows how it can boost your SEO, help you understand your audience, create strong brand connections, allow for targeting the right people, and not cost a fortune. 

If you need help with your social media journey or want professionals to assist you, feel free to contact us at IFTS! 

Boosting Your House Painting Business Revenue: Four Proven Ways to Improve Google Ads Results

Are you a house painting business owner who wants to save money on Google Ads and get more customers? 

We’ve got four simple tips to help you do just that. 

In this blog post, we’ll show you how to make Google Ads work better for your painting business, and it’s not as hard as you might think.

Tip 1 - Make a Special Page For Your Google Ads (Your Landing Page)

To get better results with Google Ads, you need a special page on your website, called a landing page, just for the people who click on your ads. This page should make it easy for them to contact you. 

Be sure that you include your phone number in the upper-right hand side and have a form that they can fill out.  You may also want to consider having a way to directly schedule the appointment, like a calendar or a chat function for the people that cannot wait to get started.

Don’t worry about making it show up on Google.  It doesn’t have to be optimized for SEO (search engine optimization) because you are sending paid traffic to it. 

Instead, make it all about getting people to contact you or leave the page. 

This simple change can make a big difference.

Tip 2 – Make Sure That Your Ads and Page Match (Ad Congruity)

If your ad talks about a specific service or benefit, make sure the page it leads to talks about the same thing. If your ad is about painting a room, the page should be too. If it’s about fixing a ceiling, the page should be all about that. This way, people won’t get confused, and more of them will contact you.

You will also want to use similar fonts, colors and images.

This technique is called “ad congruity” and it helps potential clients make the connection from your ad to your landing page in their mind.  The more they can look alike, the better. 

If your website hasn’t been updated in a while, this article will help!

Tip 3 - Focus on What People Want (Focus on the Client’s What’s In It For Me?)

Instead of talking about what you do, focus on what people want. 

People who need painting services want their homes to look great. So, tell them how your painting services will make their homes look amazing. Talk about the results and benefits they’ll get. This will get more people interested in what you offer.

People always want to know, “What’s in it for me?”

So, answer them in a way that will elevate their status, but will highlight what you can do.  It’s a win-win for everyone.

Tip 4 - Show You're Trustworthy

People like to see that others have been happy with your services. In fact, 46% of consumers feel that online business reviews are as trustworthy as personal recommendations from friends or family according to BrightLocal.

Add reviews from past customers to your landing page. These can be written reviews and even short videos where your happy customers talk about their experience. You can even use widgets to embed the latest reviews from Google into your Website if you are using WordPress.

By making it easy to see what people are saying, it helps people trust you and decide to contact you.

Sometimes, people don’t leave reviews because they don’t know what to write.  To make it easy to leave a review, send your client some variation of the following email:

“Mrs. Smith – 

We hope that you found our service to be extraordinary.  If that is the case, we would love for you to leave us a review.

To help you get started (and avoid writer’s block), we have found that the most impactful reviews answer these questions:

  • What work did we do for you and where are you located?
  • Was it done well?
  • Why did you pick our company?
  • What was the best thing about working with our company?
  • Would you recommend us to family and friends?

Please click here and it will take you directly to our Google Review Page: [Link]

Thank you for choosing us and we really appreciate you taking the time to leave a review.” 

We recommend asking for a review after your final walkthrough, which is when your client should be the happiest.

By asking these questions, you help guide them to use the words and phrases that will make your reviews relevant to most searchers looking for companies like yours. In addition, they will leave reviews that look non-spammy and well thought out.

Where To Go From Here

Improving your Google Ads results is doable, even if you’re running a house painting business by yourself. 

By following these simple steps, you can save money on advertising and get more customers. Just make a special landing page, match your ads to it, focus on what people want, and show that you’re trustworthy. These changes can help your business grow. 

If you need more help, feel free to reach out to IFTS. Good luck with your house painting business!