Facebook privacy vs publicity debate

Facebook is at the epicenter of issues surrounding “publicity vs privacy” as marketers seek to leverage the social web to engage existing and new consumers. This CNET article is a really good summary of issues swirling around the latest changes Facebook has made to its data sharing policies. Here are the salient take-aways:

  • Facebook marketing “partners” (e.g., shopping sites, news sites, etc) have seen huge jumps in referral traffic after implementing Facebook’s “social plug-ins”
  • Despite the success Facebook marketing partners may experience, security issues have emerged with the implementation of these social plug-ins
  • Facebook’s brand image is rising with adults 18-34 but dropping with adults 35+

Brands appear to benefit by tightly integrating Facebook into their customer outreach efforts. For example, this MediaWeek article (thanks @ReggieRPR for the heads-up) reports that Starbuck’s Facebook page is valued at $20 million. Nevertheless, the CNET article points out interesting issues that could impact Facebook’s marketer outreach efforts. The core of the issue is the inherent tension between publicity vs privacy; that is, just because someone makes something public does not mean they necessarily want it publicized. Danah Boyd in her keynote address at the 2010 SXSW Interactive made this latter point, as well as the following observations:

  • Technologists’ have a mantra that “privacy is dead”, but this is not true
  • People still care about privacy and the “public by default” “private through effort” dichotomy represents an inherent tension for individuals wanting to navigate online social worlds (Danah was referencing the fact that in many social networks users’ personally identifiable information and activities conducted through these social networks are rendered “public” by default and that users have to proactively change their privacy settings to make such information and activities less public or wholly private)
  • Marketers should remember that just because you can “see” someone does not mean they want to be “seen” by you
  • A Pew study showed that most adult social network users are privacy conscious (see related Pew study here showing that younger adults seem to be exerting even more control over their digital reputations)
  • Product developers need to think through publicity-vs-privacy-vs-control issues if they want to develop and launch successful products that tap the inherent benefits of the online social world

It will be interesting to see whether consumers will or will not readily use Facebook’s social plug-ins as privacy issues continue to gain mainstream media attention. What are your views?

Photo: alancleaver_2000

Leveraging data analytics for competitive advantage

Two articles recently caught my interest. The first article from the Financial Times, Smarter leaders are betting big on data (registration required) focuses on how companies use data analytics for business intelligence purposes. The best quote from this article:

Data is the new plastics

The second article from the Los Angeles Times, He’s start-ups’ best friend, profiled angel investor Ron Conway and his theories about investing in start-ups. The most telling quote from this article:

His current focus is “real-time data” companies that help people share what they’re doing instantly – using text, photos and video. “This sector is going to be huge,” he said.

As real-time data begins to inundate firms more and more by virtue of their forays into the social web and mobile world, data analytics offers a way for firms to utilize this data in novel ways to deliver more engaging and relevant experiences to their customers. For example, a firm could use data analytics in a predictive manner to dynamically deliver more relevant web pages based on consumers’ behavior throughout a firm’s website. Similarly, firms can use a service like Flowtown in conjunction with a service like First American Core Logic’s lead qualification services to gain insight into a registrant by combining their social persona with their transactional persona and then deliver relevant data and content based on this combined persona. Firms that begin to leverage data analytics will have distinct advantages over their competition in the near and long-term future.