“ We’ve moved from a World that is private by default, public through effort to one that is public by default private-through-effort” W...

Social Scriptures 2012 Part 5: Respect Privacy


We’ve moved from a World that is private by default, public through effort to one that is public by default private-through-effort” WSJ Nov 2011

2011 was the year when privacy came roaring into the limelight with the scandal surrounding the actions of the New of the World reports, the demise of the paper and the subsequent findings of the Leveson inquiry. Although this was focused on illegal phone tapping and intrusion into the lives of celebs and those in the news the parallels between this and social media are going to become more evident in 2012 as people start to be more aware and in turn more guarded about their privacy.

Indeed in 2011 social had its fair share of privacy issues – from Zuckerberg’s admittance that Beacon was a mistake to the Dana Thornton’s fake Facebook account case and from Twitter super injunctions to the furore surrounding various data hacks as long as social remains free and open, and with the growth of single access sign-on, privacy is an area that will never go away.

There are 2 key areas of law that will have the biggest impact on privacy in 2012:

– Firstly only in January this year a common set of data protection laws across the European Union are set to be announced as part of an EU Directive on data privacy. Key to this is the “right to be forgotten” – essentially be able to ask for data about them to be deleted and firms will have to comply unless there are "legitimate" grounds to retain it.

- Secondly the EU Privacy and Communication Directive, which requires companies to gain permission before using “cookies”, came into force on 26th May 2011 with companies being given 1 year to comply – so make sure you are ready for 26th May 2012 !

Indeed Google have already laid down the gauntlet by announcing that it plans at the end January to consolidate more than 60 of its privacy policies into one main document, allowing it to unify customer data across most of its products and combine user information from one service with data linked to other services, if that user is logged in with a Google Account. Whilst it has been praised by some, such as European Commissioner Vivian Reding, who claimed that Google had been "transparent" and had outlined the changes in an "easily understandable language", others felt that Google should give users the choice to opt out of such a service.

So with this and services such as Spotify, Facebook and Twitter all facing up to similar issues 2012 will be an interesting year for privacy as companies must walk a fine line between respecting the privacy of their consumers and building trust by implementing privacy by default and bringing the magic that comes with elements such as localisation, personalisation and data enhancement.


Be careful, honest, upfront, open and consider these areas when dealing with data and privacy:

-       Default opt-in on sharing private info: Ensure basic profile information should be defaulted to opt out.  Default opt out should also be considered for user generated information such as messages, photos, audio, and video.

-       Transparency in how personal information is used: Social networking sites and other social business concerns should detail what information will be shared.  Users should know if their information will be sold and if so to whom.

-       Export provision for user generated data: Customers should own their data and take it with them as needed.  A mechanism to export user created information should be provided to the user. 

-       Deletion of all data upon a user request. Should a user request a hard delete, users should be granted this option for a permanent delete with all information removed from all files.

-       Keep abreast of what is going on – or at least ensure your agency does !

Achieving ‘ Social Zen’

Merely shifting money and plans is not enough, nor is thinking that toe dipping is the best route – 2012 has to be the year that you embrace the huge juggernaut that is social media and move to become a truly social business.

This should be reflected in everything that a company does and this means non silo’d thinking across customer service, new product development, sales, operations but most of all within your marketing plans.

We all know however this is not as easy as it appears given time and budget restrictions let alone the huge differences in understanding and appreciation of the benefits that social can bring. As such we always recommend that a focused plan is key hence providing 5 key areas to concentrate on – namely:

-       Development of a clear, relevant, involving and interesting brand story and consideration as to how this story is told across paid, owned, earned, promoted and shared media with the consumer at the heart and recognition of the non linear nature of brand interactions.

-       Development of a clear, achievable data strategy that considers not only existing data sources but also integrates and reviews ongoing social data – both brand related and more general to help develop, amongst other areas, brand messaging, targeting channel selection.

-       Consideration as to the best use of influencers and development of a plan to include identification, approach, courtship and relationship building and ultimately getting them to do your job for you !

-       Investigation of different social / mobile / facebook commerce platforms and development of a test and learn approach that integrates into your wider commercial mix

-       A clear plan for you are going to deal with the up and coming privacy laws and ongoing initiatives to ensure that your company proactively engenders trust from your consumers so they feel comfortable conversing and sharing with you across all social touchpoints.   

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