On May 25th, GDPR officially went into effect and overhauled privacy laws with new consumer protections. And while this is an EU law, all cross-border companies gathering and analyzing data must also be compliant.
Particularly in the current industry climate, businesses need to be hypervigilant and prepared for what may unleash both greater consumer concern and greater legislative scrutiny over the data collection practices of brands, agencies and publishers. Therefore, we need to proactively define best practices our industry can adhere to when it comes to social media measurement and insights.
First ask yourself: how are we conducting business and are we comfortable with both what is being collected and how it is being collected?
Just as many consumers want to know about the ingredients in their food and whether it's ethically sourced, they will also want to know the what and how of what we do.
Here are four recommendations:
1. Realize it’s not just a Facebook problem
According to Shareablee’s State of Social Media, consumers engaged with branded content 73 billion times across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram - and that’s only in the US in 2017 alone. So, the privacy focus is on Facebook these days, your social media strategy re-evaluation should not solely hinge on The Social Network.
What happened on Facebook could just as easily happen to Twitter, Instagram (owned by Facebook), YouTube or other platforms - and already is in some capacity.
2. Understand the difference between Counting Vs. Creating and the data related
A common mistake is to confuse the kind of data which counts things, with the kind of data that creates things.
These couldn’t be more different. In general, the Counting datasets will be anonymized, measurement focused, aggregated and less subject to the perils of personally identifiable information (although you still need to understand collection methodologies and be wary of non-compliant tactics such as scraping).
In the Counting bucket, there are two parts – the “How Many” and the “How Good”:
- The “How Many” defines things like how many people saw my brand’s campaign and how many times they saw it. This includes: unique engagements and total audience reach; total impressions, clicks or actions (Likes, Reactions, Shares, Retweets, Comments, Retweets); and measures of cross platform scale achieved in comparison to competitive benchmarks.
- The “How Good” is where we plug in attitudinal and behavioral metrics, which measure how effective all those impressions, views, interactions, etc. were in terms of achieving the brand's campaign objectives. Examples of this are whether the brand’s campaign reached the right people, whether it changed attitudes, increased awareness, solidified a position, created intent to purchase or doubt. Any of the true move-the-needle metrics.
Creating is where insights can really spring revolutionary ideas out of the box - these are the “Who I Am” and “What Drives Me” data points or non-demographic segmentation data that consist of values, attitudes and lifestyle information. This dataset is by far the more sensitive and prone to questionable practices and methodologies as was recently evidenced, so you need to:
3. Know where your data is coming from: Ethically sourcing
Brands need to be vigilant and transparent in their collection of data - and above all, stay consistent with their interactions with consumers.
How do you make sure your data is being collected honestly? Collect via publicly available or visible information - not from messaging, private pages or private conversations. Use data that's collected directly from an opt-in, like a panel (not a sign up for a game, which is unconnected). Stay away from having one consumer opt-in another consumer’s data, either directly or indirectly, and make sure that the reason a consumer has agreed to give you their data is in fact the way that you are using the data (if someone signs up for a health app, they can’t inadvertently be joining a research panel).
Normally consumers don't think about the usage of their data until after something breaks, and then the scrutiny unfolds. Be sure to check your methodologies regularly.
Think WWMCW: What would my customer want? And since every one of us is a customer, take off your brand hat and don your customer one. Would you be ok with what you are collecting, storing, asking and doing with the information?
4. Brush up on your Ts & Cs
We need to dive back in to those endless, but necessary, Terms and Conditions pages and actually read the fine print from a customer perspective.
Make sure you're acting for the collective good, and that you're not in danger of losing consumer trust through jargon or overly complicated language.
A recent study by the University of Pennsylvania, titled "The Tradeoff Fallacy", stated that consumers are “resigned to give away their information” because they feel powerless to stop the collection of it, but are not all right with losing control over their information. Large percentages of them disagree with trading information or shopping habits, even for discounts or other incentives.
Measure your success
Measure success not only by how your brand is performing, but also against your category competitors for optimal results. Measure content types - by platform and by market. Establish different times of day and week combinations to get a solid overview of how your data is trending at different points in time.
Brands who hold themselves to a higher standard in respect to data collection will earn greater trust from their customers. Research should be about quality and insight, not quick fixes.
If someone claims they have something no one else has, verify, verify, verify. Get involved in the data that powers your business decisions and represents your brand.
Social media gives us unparalleled access to new customers insights - but that’s a privilege, not a right. Let’s make sure we act accordingly.