A report from the Wall Street Journal suggests that social spam is becoming a threat to marketing efforts on the channel; businesses must invest in quality social content to avoid being marked as spam by users.

As hackers increasingly target Facebook and Twitter, the social sites are being more vigilant in defending their networks against cyber attacks. Marketers will want to make sure their social content campaigns can instantly set them apart from the new wave of social spammers.

According to the Wall Street Journal, social has become a more popular target than email among spammers because it’s easier to spread their viruses due to the instant nature of the technology. On Facebook, Like-jacking, the process of posting content that tricks a user into clicking an image that then registers it as a Like, has become a popular spamming tactic, while Twitter lends itself to phony offers of free iPads or humorous videos.

As is the case with other forms of cyber attacks, social media attacks are used to steal information and infect users’ computers.

For marketers, the presence of social spam can make social media marketing challenging. To start, businesses will want to ensure that their social content is clearly safe to click; avoiding overtly promotional Tweets and posts in favor of branded insights and transparent URLs to site content may help. Additionally, marketers will want to be on the lookout for account hacking that could ruin their business’ reputations.

Since cyber criminals hack passwords and spread the messages from legitimate accounts, as well as fake ones, security is a must. When a user receives a spam message from an account they follow or Like, they’re likely to block and report that user.

Currently, social media marketing is a critical component of web strategies for countless businesses. It’s likely that the amount of companies using the channel and the importance of it will grow in 2012. Brafton recently reported that a study from Borrell and Associates predicts local social spending will surpass $8 billion by 2016. 

Joe Meloni is Brafton's former Executive News and Content Writer. He studied journalism at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and has written for a number of print and web-based publications.