It happened like this. At last count I had over thirty five thousand fans on my Facebook page. Because of this, my page was officially verified. Woohoo! Yeah, no. The reason I had the verification and so many fans is because I advertised. Well, I hired someone to advertise. Wait... more accurately, another musician I knew opened up an advertising side business and asked me to help him build his portfolio. Let’s call him Sam.
It would be a win/win situation Sam said. He wouldn’t charge me near what he was planning to charge once his business got going and I would get the benefit of all his research on placing ads. His strategy was to target other countries who were hungry for American talent first (so he said), then target US markets. I was clueless about the process so, sure, that sounded reasonable. 🤷🏻♀️
All I know is it seemed to be working and people were liking the page and even the posts. It was all fine and dandy until the bizarre messages started coming in. Men were sending me their pictures, along with detailed descriptions about their lives and earning potential and, strangely, their measurements. I messaged Sam: “What’s going on? What do the ads even say? Am I a mail order bride?” Previously he’d told me they would be “If you like this artist, you’ll love Laura Marie” type ads and he insisted that’s what they were so I asked which artists he was comparing me to and he said, “Taylor Swift”. *sigh*
Ok, well, I explained to him that, in the first place, I wasn’t a “Taylor Swift” (this was when she was country) and didn’t think that was a good comparison. He said it was because we were both female songwriters. And, since I didn’t have a lot of advertising expertise, I ignored the “all female songwriters are the same” perspective and told myself that he knew more. Even though I was cringing on the inside (no offense to Swift. I just didn’t get the comparison), I kept telling myself that I had to stop trying to control every little thing and trust people who knew what they were doing or who convinced me they knew what they were doing and maybe convinced themselves as well.
So, 35 thousand fans and a blue checkmark later I started realizing that these “fans” were not much interested in my music. A few were. A few are still pretty loyal followers to this day actually. But, and not to discount the few thousand fans I had before the ads started, I had a problem. I had thousands of fans and comparatively little engagement. Then the music biz articles started coming out about these things called “click farms” and “fake followers” and I started to realize I’d been sold numbers and very little else.
That was years ago. More recently, I had very little interest in the page because, as many page owners know, you have to spend a fair amount on advertising your content to enable any of your fans to see it. Add to that Facebook’s lack of concern about their responsibility in the spread of misinformation over the past several years and I wasn’t exactly motivated to give them my money. I struggled with what to do with the page so I let it sit.
This year, after the shock of 2020 started wearing off, I started coming up with all kinds of ideas about where to go with my music. As I started moving forward with plans, it seemed as if some energetic floodgate had opened and I started receiving offers left and right for some great opportunities. Some were absolutely legit and some were outright scams. And then there was this one ad company that I now believe had already tried a number of ways to target me and finally found one that worked. They went to the trouble of spoofing a legit and reputable company and, during a time when I had spread myself thin with new projects, I simply walked past a field of red flags, followed an instruction on how to set up FB add on what turned out to be a spoofed page of Facebook’s “business suite”, and inadvertently handed my fan page over to a scammer who had a number of verified pages under his control already. All I did was simply verify my own email address. What the hell?
I know. These people may have been thorough but, I was also ... UGH! You know, I’m not a dumb person. I do dumb things from time to time but I won’t call myself dumb or stupid. I was fooled and I know how I was fooled and I know why I was fooled. I know my part in it and I know why I was targeted. And it sucked. But, because I was already at odds with the page, I wasn’t angry about losing it. Weeks before I’d considered deleting it and starting over but the musicians in my accountability group (yes, I belong to one and they are all brilliant and super supportive) talked me out of it. No, what I was really angry about was having been so distracted that I fell for something I warn people about all the time. And, I was beyond angry that someone was speaking on my behalf and potentially scamming people in my name. I was pretty much inconsolable about that. I raged.
And once I got over my ego and my embarrassment about admitting what happened and looking “stupid”, I took the sage advice of my husband, Pete, and asked my friends who follow my personal social media accounts to help.
Facebook was not helpful. They don’t have a good way for page owner’s to correct such problems and, I suspect, unless you spend a lot of money on page ads or have a big legal team, they will remain unconcerned. I’m fortunate enough to know someone who does have an in with their legal department but that takes weeks or months and the scammers were already posting and maybe even messaging people on my behalf.
I put out a post asking friends to help stop them from using my page to scam people and this was the response.
"Thank you, scam commenters! You did a great thing!"
Squad goals. This is it. I’ve never felt more supported on my Facebook page than when my friends answered the call and commented “SCAM” on it. I’m still smiling about it.
Screw the numbers. All I care about is having the people who want and care about the music to have it whatever that number may be. And, whatever you do, don’t get all high and mighty about how no one could ever scam you because we all have our weak points, we all have our “upper limit problems”*.
*for an in-depth exploration of what an upper limit problem is and how we self-sabotage, read The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks.
** visit the new merch store for some sweet lyric wall art