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November 25, 2007

Social Advertising

From business's point of view social ads are the holy grail of marketing.  Being able to give ads to people based-on their previous behavior, not only from shopping with your company but with others, is the Fort Knox of personal data.  This information potentially allows marketers to give consumers marketing messages through the most influential marketing channel, social networks, and based-on the users profile, giving away their preferences.

But it's also the holy thorn of marketing.  When someone posts information on a social networking site, they expect their information to not be shared outside of the privacy controls they've set.  When this data becomes shared, people feel violated, lowering their trust in the service that is rendered.  Privacy rights groups then storm the gates of the government demanding greater protections for consumers and for federal investigations of the service providers.  The EU, with it's stronger privacy protections, will already be on its way to analyzing the security and privacy implications of the services, make recommendations, then get ready for its next set of legal battles.

They say there's no such thing as bad pr, but when the consumers trust in a set of dominant services is on the line, it is bad pr.  Companies should be careful when treading in the territory of personal privacy concerns.  Maximum transparency about one's policies and allowing for people to control the disclosure of their information will create maximum trust.  Trust is the glue of relationships and commerce.  It's not meant to be abused.

"It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently." - Warren Buffett


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Facebook is really doing a stellar job failing to keep peoples trust right now. I'm eager to see what comes of it.

Great tie-in with that quote there.

It is so very easy to lose trust but when can you say you have "lost trust"? People's idea of what privacy expectations to have on the social web are becoming more and more liberal every day and people like Facebook are, arguably, in a great position to make huge changes that possibly violate people's trust while still holding onto their user base. This may not be the exact example you were alluding to but while it is traditionally encouraged to be cautious with people's trust, people like Facebook are conditioning people to be more leanient with what they allow websites and corporations to do with their privacy and data. It's scary.

Good question on when can you say you've lost trust. I'd like to take the easy out of saying it's when you don't interact with the service, but that's not always the case.

I would say for certain segments people are becoming more liberal with their definition of privacy, but considering how often privacy controls are used on Facebook and other sites, a lot of people still value privacy.

It will be interesting to see how their pr evolves as the rhetoric and heat on them increases, especially from the EU next session.

It is my honor and privileged to found and read your post. It made me learn a lot of different ideas. Keep up the good work.

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