Happy Monday, my friends!!!
The big news over the weekend was that on Friday Facebook announced another data breach – this time affecting over 50 Million users. An unknown hacker, using a combination of 3 bugs was able to exploit a feature in Facebook’s code for user accounts and gained access to sensitive account information, and potentially some third party application account information as well.
In light of this recent security breach, the response has been bad for Facebook and for those of us, who are trying to run Social Media Management for our customers.
Sen. Mark Warner [D., VA.], vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee said, ” This is another sobering indicator that Congress needs to step up and take action to protect the privacy and security of social media users. As I’ve said before – the era of the Wild West in social media is over.”
On the EU front, Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) commented that the manner in which Facebook notified the public “lacked detail”. They said, ” The DPC is concerned at the fact that this breach was discovered on Tuesday and affects many millions of user accounts, but Facebook is unable to clarify the nature of the breach and the risk for users at this point.” Facebook is facing a potential fine from the EU in relation to this breach.
As marketing professionals, the ramifications of Facebook being breached are not positive for our industry as well.
Is Facebook a viable platform to market through anymore:
Given the Cambridge Analytics breach and now this most recent event, Facebook has made it difficult for businesses to effectively market and promote their brands. I can tell you that in the last month – I’ve seen my twitter and Instagram followers increase by over 1,000 and my Facebook followers – by 1. Even with my content linked when I post, the reach that FB allows organically for business pages is limited. If you want to increase your reach, they force you to pay for post boosting, which is ineffective at best.
As a company, Facebook has gone to the extreme in protecting their users from receiving content that they feel may offend or disturb them. This inherently is not a bad thing, in fact it’s great. However, when you are promoting your own brand or that of your clients, you need to be able to organically find users who will be interested in what is being offered. As Facebook becomes more selective and their algorithms more restrictive, it’s viability for business use seems to be diminishing.
I recommend focusing more on Instagram, Twitter, Pintrest, Venmo and Tumblr to build your follower audience. While these algorithms are protective of user data and preferences, they seem to be growing faster and reaching more potential customers.
Large firms being hacked leads to customer confidence about how well their data is being protected. As customers/prospects become more wary of sharing information with marketers, this has a palpable effect on how well we can do our jobs.
The goal of any marketer is to collect customer information when they visit your web page. On www.bedforstmarketing.com, we have a multiple contact forms that ask a visitors email address, name and other information. In all cases, the sign up from landing pages or on websites are always double-verification, which gives the consumer the option to opt-out twice!!!!
When Facebook is hacked, it makes potential leads weary of sharing this information. Our goal as marketers is to convert website visitors into customers and to build lasting relationships with them. If our prospects do not feel comfortable sharing personal information, we have to A) limit what we capture on our landing pages/ websites and B) deal with an increase in customer complaints about how their information was acquired.
The danger in breaches like this are that smaller marketers will not be able to effectively market their own brands or our client’s offerings because the people we want to convert are distrustful of the industry in general and not likely to share contact information with us.
Another fallout could potentially be the innovative ways we can prospect for new clients. As we all know, off-line postal data is very powerful. If you can acquire a targeted prospect file or want to leverage a customer file to find prospects, will Facebook and other social media channels allow us to upload these lists for Social Media matching purposes, in light of these breaches ?
The matching is done in a blind portal, meaning you only ever know the number of names that matched – not who matched. For instance, if upload 100M names to Facebook – you will get a report back telling you that 50M matched, but not who from that list matched. So, the protection is in place to keep the consumer’s data safe.
However, given that the Social Media sites themselves cannot protect user data – will they eventually not allow marketers to use their platforms to find look-a-like prospects to their customers or new prospects? That stark reality is facing our industry, in light of these data breaches.
In general, I am not opposed to regulations in place to make sure that business is conducted in a moral and proper manner. Certain industries like banking and credit card companies need regulation to protect against bubbles forming that crash economies and protecting consumers from APR rates looking more like usury rates!!!
But when Mark Warner says “the era of the Wild West is over in social media” and the EU may potentially fine Facebook for this breach – these regulations will trickle down to us and our clients.
A large part of why Direct Mail and Email marketing has taken a hit is due to over-regulation. Things like the DMA Do Not Pander list to Can-Spam compliance make prospect marketing very challenging. Again, I am not advocating anarchy and no rules – but marketers must be extra careful in the more traditional channels when it comes to prospect marketing. I have seen first hand large marketers and their internal compliance managers shy away from marketing to new movers or newly weds, because they felt it was too exclusionary. Not only is that not good marketing strategy… it’s illogical!!!!
The slippery slope of Government regulation is that sometimes it leads to an over correction, which undermine the creativity that Direct Marketers need to be successful.
Social Media has been a bit like the Wild West for marketers and I hope that this recent data breach doesn’t lead to an over correction by government agencies. We need to be able to be creative and also respectful of consumer privacy – but in a logical way.
As always, I’d love to hear your feedback and thoughts on these topics. firstname.lastname@example.org or leave us a comment!!!