Digital Marketing Insights

I’m sorry to say this, but gone are the days of anonymity when your online behaviour was only your business. Social media platforms now have the privilege to divorce you from your privacy and track your online foot prints for corporate benefits.

The last time I checked, about 85% of Saskatoon was on Facebook with more than half of those people logging in on a daily basis. Twitter is on the rise too, which is astounding really as not too long ago Twitter in Saskatoon was the not-so-popular social media platform. Even Google+ has overcome its slightly rocky start to its launch and is beginning to garner more traction. So let’s face it head on. Online social platforms are, no, HAVE taken over our lives.

They now represent how we communicate; how we express our thoughts; and the way we connect with friends. These platforms have become a powerful extension of our identity and whether we like it or not, each one of us taking part in social media is developing a personal brand online.

Online Footprint

As an online socialite your profile is evaluated on many different levels, but primarily it’s by the content you like, share and post. Have you ever wondered why, when you’re online and searching for a trip abroad, that after a few moments adverts appear on the page related to your destination? This is because your online activity “footprint” is systematically tracked and then fed in to complex algorithms that evaluate your interests. What is then presented (or spewed out) to you is highly targeted advertising. So if you start posting, sharing or liking content related to Barbie dolls on Facebook, you will very likely start seeing ads pertaining to Barbie dolls.

I am sure that many business owners would view and understand how this kind of specific user data can be a goldmine. After all, businesses want to attract and advertise to their target markets. However, just a few years ago such a high level of precision was not possible. Now, with the ever increasing advancements in technology and how we communicate with one another, social media tools have processed user data in to a valuable resource for businesses to take advantage of. This transition has taken engagement marketing to a whole new, and somewhat, dubious level.

We all live in a highly commercialized society. Each and every one of us is either selling or being sold to. As a user we have to be careful with what we post. Although it may feel like the content that you post is, well yours, that might not necessarily be the case.

Debbie Douez

A classic example is the recent lawsuit by Debbie Douez from Vancouver, BC. Ms. Douez sued Facebook after she found out that her image was used in a Facebook “Sponsored Stories” Ad. After liking the page, “Cool Entrepreneurs”, her image began to appear with the caption “Debbie Douez likes Cool Entrepreneurs.”

What she claimed was that Facebook had no right to use her picture in these Ads. Unfortunately, Facebook does clearly state in their privacy policy that they can do this, and honestly, how many of us have actually read through or taken notice of this privacy policy? Like lambs to the slaughter, we all just accept it (and tick the box).

So what lessons can be learnt from this? For one, make sure you have a good profile picture in case you are featured in an Ad. At least that way you can look good when being violated!

The Internet is going nowhere

I know I might be stating the obvious here but the Internet is not going away, which means that social media platforms are here to stay. Businesses have to wake up and realize this. You have to realize the potential that social media has when it comes to brand development and its use as a customer engagement tool. Businesses need to go where the customers are and they’re online doing research and engaging in discussions!

So let me ask you this:

Why not become a part of those discussions and become known in your industry as an expert?

Becoming an industry leader takes time and with time you build relationships and communities. We all know how communities can be powerful when it comes to brand loyalty.

The reality is that every piece of content online is a commercial opportunity. Content is what powers the Internet. The posts and updates to your online profile are treated as content and therefore a valuable commercial tool. You might not be for sale but your online activity certainly is!

This article was originally published in the June/July 2012 edition of Business View.

Mouneeb is an experienced digital marketing strategist with a passion for helping clients achieve their goals online. With over 15 years of experience in designing, developing, and managing a team that develops top-notch web projects, he brings a wealth of information to the teams that he leads and the leaders that he follows.

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