Consumers are used to sharing personal data with brands, but as distrust towards social media grows, questions are being raised about how this content is managed and policed. The data privacy debate…

A recent international report reveals a clear lack of trust from people who want social media platforms to take much more responsibility for the way their data is used and for brands to take more care around their own online reputations.

The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer Global Report canvassed the views of 9,000 consumers in nine countries – and found that most were unhappy with the way brands use and police social media platforms, including their own consumer data.

One of the biggest areas of concern has developed in response to digital marketing. A majority, 54% of those asked, say they are uncomfortable with marketers tracking in-store purchases for targeting purposes. As a result, 49% are no longer willing to sacrifice some of their data privacy in return for a more personalised shopping experience, while 39% would like buying personal information from other companies, to be made illegal.

At Igniyte we know only too well the importance of helping brands control the way they are perceived by the public – their existing and prospective customers, stakeholders, investors and employees online. How they use data is as important as what content they create and share with people – perception is everything.

Key findings

So, what’s troubling consumers – and what do they want to see happen next?

According to The Edelman Report, an overwhelming 71% of people said they wanted brands to do more to safeguard their personal data. 70% would like them to curb the spread of fake news and 68% would like them to work harder to shield them from offensive content.

Interestingly, roughly half of the study’s 9,000 respondents see brands as complicit in other social media ills. Almost half (48%) say a brand should be held responsible if their advertising appears next to hate speech, violent or sexually inappropriate content. A further 47% feels that if content appears close to a brand’s advertising/marketing then it might reflect that brand’s values.

The trust conundrum – data privacy

The effect of this mis-trust is to challenge the way data is currently being used by marketers and brand teams. While consumers used to be relatively happy to exchange data for perks and discounts that balance of power is changing.

Marketing push-back

Almost half (49%) say they are no longer willing to sacrifice some of their data privacy in return for a more personalised shopping experience. More than half (54%) have become uncomfortable with the way marketers track in-store purchases for targeting purposes and a worried 39% think it should be illegal for a brand to buy personal information from another company a consumer has interacted with.

Developing new strategies

What can brands do to ensure they continue to make the most of the opportunities presented by social media platforms and digital marketing – without alienating loyal customers?

Finding a better data privacy deal

Leaving online behind simply isn’t an option. Social media is the thread that weaves through all modern digital campaigns; offering advantages for brand and consumer.

The Edelman Report found that 40% of us admit we’re less likely to form a close emotional attachment to a brand, unless we can engage with them via effective social media.

We all need social media but, against this backdrop of mis-trust, brands must redefine their relationship with consumers, via more thoughtful marketing and social media campaigns, offering more in exchange for their valuable data. They need to take more responsibility for managing the way their content and consumers’ data is displayed and shared.

In the post-GDPR world (enforced across the EU since 25 May 2018) customers have more power over their own data. They can ask companies to reveal or delete data – with those who fail to comply facing legal action and financial penalties.

Managing personal data is something all businesses have to take seriously, coupled with the need to curate other online activity and it can seem an overwhelming task.

The impact of negative sentiment about brands

Developing a clear online data and reputation management strategy – underpinned by a thorough reputation audit – is a must.

Our own Igniyte Reputation Report 2018 for example, found growing concern about the impact of negative content on brands, with one in 20 of the businesses questioned revealing that negative content has cost them more than £500,000. And you really don’t want your company ‘slammed’ across social media and the press for handling consumer data poorly.

The Edelman Report adds to this sense of unease – demonstrating clearly how failing to be open and transparent about data use and maintain a positive reputation can alienate customers and undermine even the most considered marketing campaigns.

Managing reviews, taking control of social media postings and positioning and using data responsibly will all help restore faith – building a more positive social media landscape and stronger, more resilient brands consumers can trust with their data.



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