Facebook Profiles: Public or Private?

Data security, privacy, and ethical issues of collecting data online are the themes of this week’s class session. I think this is a pretty salient topic for our class whose participants all have several social media profiles. I think it’s even safe to say that we probably have more than the average person given our affinity for online communication (the focus of our master’s program) and the fact that classmates regularly share new social networking platforms (glossi.com and flavors.me ring a bell?).

While we are all eager to post the latest photo of party shenanigans or a status update on what we thought about a political debate, we don’t often think about the repercussions. That’s because, for the most part, our social media profiles are limited to the people we share information with. However, according to this week’s readings, found here and here, employers are actually asking applicants for their Facebook account passwords or requesting that they open their profiles there on the spot. I’ve never been in this type of situation but would not even know how to respond if I was asked to share my social networking profiles to strangers who might actually employ me. Not to say that my profiles’ content is alarming, but it’s certainly not something I’d like to share with an HR recruiter.

On the other hand, what about mobile applications that mine data of users surreptitiously? Some of the apps I’ve downloaded actually have asked me to “agree to” certain conditions. They can be apps that can determine my location, mine data from my social networks, and track my online behavior—all while I’m using the application’s function. Our reading on mobile privacy sensing took a closer look at this emerging technology and its implications. The authors of the study pointed out that developing a lay public understanding of mobile sensing privacy, security and risk is critical to a vision of participatory privacy regulation. But casual technology users often underestimate or misunderstand data sharing and security risks, which I believe affects many of us users.

Questions to readers:

-Have you ever had to share your social networking profiles to an employer or potential employer?

-What measures have you taken if any to protect your reputation online?

The Evolution of Marketing Data

Marketers are in an ideal position to benefit from today’s data-rich environment. Not only do they have an opportunity to capitalize on the availability of more consumer buying channels but they have easy access to growing data about consumers.  Thanks to the Internet and mobile technology, marketers have a pathway to consumer behavior like never before. They now have a clearer glimpse of consumer behavior and their habits and preferences. With this knowledge, marketers can tailor advertising campaigns and ensure maximum impact.

Yet while marketers seem to have it easy, they actually have a plethora of information to analyze when determining the direction of their marketing and advertising efforts. In fact, according to this week’s reading, From Information to Audiences: The Emerging Marketing Data Use Cases, in 2009 the world produced 5 exabytes, or the equivalent of 25 quadrillion Tweets, every two days. Without even seeing more current research, I think it’s safe to assume that today that number is much higher.

Indeed, marketers have endless data at their fingertips but in order to make the most of this fortuitous situation they will have to develop the right capabilities. In particular, according to the organizations that produced the aforementioned reading, Winterberry Group LLC and the Interactive Advertising Bureau, marketing organizations need to focus on five areas to succeed in this rapidly changing environment: rules-driven integration of disparate data sets; improve their operating infrastructures; build a strong network of data-centric technology and service partners; and establish marketing data governance.

The most interesting part of the reading was within the audience optimization section, where an organization called Catalina Marketing is highlighted as claiming to collect and analyze in-store purchase data covering 80 percent of the U.S. population. This is an incredible feat—hundreds of millions of peoples’ purchased are being studied, including perhaps, yours and mine! Also, this organization is now combining offline and online sales data to help its consumer goods make better choices on their promotional offers—ultimately to improve optimization of their audience.

 Questions to readers:

 -What marketing practices look like they will become standard in the near future (based on technology and growing data about consumers)?

 -How do you use marketing data (whether in your work or for research)?   

Message Testing: Are You Getting Your Message Across?

Have you ever visited a horrible website and wondered about its purpose? Have you ever been turned off by a website’s color, music, or design? Chances are the company didn’t employ message testing. Message testing for online media allows companies to understand who is reading their content and how people are reacting to it. Indeed, this tool is critical to creating a successful media campaign and strong identity online. Further, how a company markets itself online is extremely important, especially for attracting new customers, and keeping current ones, so message testing is something that all companies should consider.

Survey research can help companies understand precisely how its message is being received by users. It involves deciding on a range of different ideas for how to market a company and helps them to dwindle it down to one that best gets the message across.

Message testing can be conducted several ways, however, there are a few key goals. The first aim of message testing is to ensure that the message is sticking with users. Is it memorable? Next, message testing should help companies understand if it stands out among competitors. If the company doesn’t stand out, it then knows where it needs to improve. The third goal of message testing is to help companies decide on a message that is an accurate reflection of its vision. The message should be all encompassing and broad enough target all potential audiences. Lastly, message testing should help companies develop a message that makes customers react positively—whether it’s a call to action or a conversion of some sort (buying a product or service).

While I haven’t had the opportunity to carry out message testing research on a grand scale, I can agree that it has the potential to help companies create campaigns or an online identity that will help them accomplish their goals. I think that one company that consistently has the same strong message each time I visit its website is Apple. The message is consistent, clear, and attractive and I always leave the website wishing I could upgrade to the latest iPhone or iPad (I’d say the message is a success!).

Questions to readers:

-What website has a strong message? 

-Have you carried out message testing? If so, how did it help improve your message?

-When is message testing most appropriate?