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Customers’ Public Social Data Isn’t Yours

Customers may post rafts of personal information on social media, but that doesn’t mean they want companies using it.

Social media has revolutionized the way people share information. Social media users are posting information about themselves on a plethora of networks, creating a record of their likes and dislikes, their habits and interests, places they visit, and more. And according to Nielsen research, four out of every five active Internet users visit social networks and blogs. That adds up to a bounty of customer insight waiting to be harvested.

Increasingly companies are doing just that: using social networking sites to learn more about customers and prospects, so they can deliver more targeted marketing. However, these firms must tread carefully and respect customers’ privacy, or risk a customer backlash.

Recent surveys reveal:

  • 70 percent of U.S. Facebook users are comfortable with the personal information they share on the network.
  • 50 percent of social media users in 21 countries are unhappy with Facebook’s privacy controls.
  • 30 percentof respondents are displeased with the privacy controls on Twitter and Google+, respectively.

Companies should take precautions to ensure that they don’t overstep their bounds when using customer information available via social media. The goal is for marketers to balance customers’ expectations for privacy with the availability of data for relevant marketing.

Mary Shaw