Posts tagged social media

Data Hoarders Threaten Privacy

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Data Hoarders Threaten Privacy: Why People View Facebook as a Threat, but Not Amazon

The fact is big business is collecting a ton of data on us. It’s also a well-known rumor (or fact) that the US government is at the top of the list when it comes to watching our every move online. Social networking, however, often has the worst reputation when it comes to privacy. Why? Much if has to do not so much with the data collected as the way that is it being used.

Surveys have revealed which companies are viewed as the largest threats to privacy. Facebook and Twitter, two of the biggest social networking sites, seem to always be high on the list. Additionally, while Google (perhaps the largest data collector of them all) has only seen people grow in concern over their data collection in the past two years, those concerns have nearly doubled recently.

On the flip side, we find Amazon. People rate it as among one of the safest sites with a mere one in 15 people being concerned over privacy and nearly half of consumers admiring their privacy policy. So, why the discrepancy? Doesn’t Amazon collect a ton of data on everyone and use it to solicit sales? Of course they do! Here’s the difference.

Big companies like Google and Facebook seem to collect data just for the sake of having it all. Amazon has a specific purpose: They want to sell us stuff. Internet-dependent companies that collect data with no apparent purpose can drum some scary ideas into people’s heads and have us wondering what they’re doing with all that information. With Amazon, we associate data collection with recommended products and targeted emails. That’s actually a convenience.

The trend is understandable. People have no problem giving up their personal data if they know why you want it. We trust Amazon. They’re a business with a great reputation. We don’t worry about personal information being sold to the highest bidder, relinquished to the government, or locked away forever for some secret future plan. Amazon just wants our money, and they are nice enough to use personal data they collect on us to recommend what we should give it to them for.

So if you want to collect data, make the purpose clear. Don’t be ambiguous about hanging on to it for some unexplained reason that might involve future sales to third parties, anti-terrorism intel collection, or just a belief that the company with the most data wins. Data hoarders threaten privacy. Consumers want transparency, and they want tangible returns on the data that gets collected on them.

Consumer Reporting Website

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Yelp’s Shakedown of Small Business Continues

Over the past six years, thousands of complaints have been filed against the popular consumer reporting web site Yelp. This number is surprisingly low considering every week there is a large number of unofficial complaints expressed against Yelp. These complaints can be found on other internet sites, and they usually accuse Yelp of keeping all the positive reviews a business receives out of sight unless the business spends money on advertising with them.

After reviewing these complaints, a reporter from the Wall Street Journal said that most of the complaints were from small business owners who claimed that when they turned down an offer to advertise with Yelp, suddenly they had unjust, or even outright false, reviews posted on their page. One business owner even said that when he decided not to advertise with them, Yelp contacted him and told him the bad reviews would go away if he advertised with them. Of course, Yelp denied all accusations and claims of bad business behavior.

In an effort to validate these accusations, in January 2014 the Court of Appeals of Virginia requested the names of the users who left negative anonymous comments about small businesses. Having these names could have proven whether Yelp was fabricating negative reviews in an attempt to bully small business owners to spend money with them, but the consumer reporting website refused to provide the information.

Unfavorable comments generated online can have a devastating effect on businesses, even causing layoffs. This is not the first time Yelp was taken to court to obtain names of reviewers. Every month, legal requests are made, and still no names. In addition, whenever a new charge is brought against the consumer reporting website, the negative reviews seem to magically disappear.

This mob-style approach of intimidation to acquire revenue leaves many upset. Some have even considered their tactics to be frighteningly close to extortion. Even though these claims have yet to be proven, there have been too many to ignore.

Social Media Training Is Imperative for Employees

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Why We Need to Train Employees in Proper Social Media Usage

Sad but true: It only takes one employee to say one wrong thing on the Internet to get an entire company in trouble. This therefore behooves each company to ensure their employees know the proper way of navigating around social media pitfalls. Whether it’s left to the I.T. department or some other agency within the company to do so, training has to be undergone before a potential public relations or legal disaster strikes.

Everything from CEOs speaking out against same-sex marriage to employees accidentally posting political propaganda on the corporate profile instead of on their private accounts has resulted in negative PR for major corporations in recent years. It seems like every week another company falls victim to these social media missteps. Bad PR isn’t the only side effect when employees are careless, either: It also leaves the company vulnerable, security-wise.

So what’s the best solution? Should companies ban employees from having any type of social media account of their own? That isn’t very realistic, and the real solution has to rely on airtight social media training for employees.

One particular aspect of training is in the sharing of data. If you give out your birth date, pet names, school names and all sorts of other personal info on a social media site, you leave yourself open to phishing attacks. Emails containing actual personal data retrieved from social media networks can convince readers and urge people to click on certain links, which can then infect a corporation’s entire internal network. The problem is aggravated even more when employees use the same device for work and personal use.

Some other basic safety measures involve not reusing the same passwords for everything, and not clicking on a link in an email unless you both trust its source and can tell where it redirects to. Businesses, in the meantime, also need to beef up their own security firewalls and protect against data loss.

Social Media Marketing Is Losing Its Clout

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Social Marketing: In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb?

A recent survey conducted showed how companies across the United States and Canada felt about their presence on social media this past year. Results have shown that while social media elicited a strong response from marketers at first, much of it now seems to be treated as a chore for companies.

It can be tough for companies to keep consumers engaged across the myriad of social networks in an effort to gain, and in some cases retain, patrons. Social media marketing became a method for keeping customers plugged in to campaigns.

More than half of the companies in the survey couldn’t clearly see the connection on a consistent basis. Others also had much to say on the true value of their income versus the cost involved in bringing it in. A small portion (about 1 in 19) of companies was new on the scene. While social media marketing is by no means a new strategy, startup companies are just recently getting into it and there are still a few other businesses out there that have resisted the tide until now.

The more shocking figure is that fewer than 10 percent are happy with the results garnered from their social media site usage. In fact, a little over 10 percent are tired of the social media game and are about to pull out altogether to increase their efforts elsewhere. Over one-fifth are unhappy with how things are going, but are determined to stick it out.

So what about the others, those that make up more than half the number of participants in the survey? For them it’s a waiting game: They’ve put enough into it and now want to see if things can keep going as they are. They aren’t retreating just yet, but they aren’t looking to sink themselves into social media as they have in the past, either.

Is social media marketing falling apart as quickly as it came together? 2014 may not be the year that we find out for sure, but many companies are looking to do far less this year, and most seem to be dissatisfied with the experience thus far.

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