How much does social media know about your business and its customers?

Whether used for marketing, direct communication with customers or even product delivery, social media is an invaluable part of today’s business landscape. A business needs to have a consistent online presence to grow. A business’ social media tells potential and current customers most of what they need to know after they are familiar with the product or service offered - the voice of a brand, what it stands for, and what they can expect from their interactions with it. So now the question stands - how much do major social media platforms know both about a business and about its customers?

First, there is the really basic information - the business’ name, the customer’s name, the addresses of both, the phone numbers of both, ages, photographs, and so on. This is all information the social media user puts online of their own volition, and only makes up a small portion of what the platform actually knows about them. Besides the data that the user inputs, social media platforms are tracking additional user information they may not be aware of. For a business, this is ideal- they are able to reach their desired customers from data like their IP address, what online stores they have been browsing and even their billing information. For a consumer however, social media tracking and selling of data can have both positives and negatives.

A positive side to tracking a user’s data is that social media platforms can show them content relevant to their lives and interests. Maybe a user “liked” a page on concerts in San Francisco, so they will receive targeted ads to relevant events. Or perhaps, a user’s address helps a business find who would be interested in their services based on the area. For personalization and individual attention, this approach of data tracking is great.

However, a lot of this tracking is information the user does not give the platform permission to track and sell, at least not to their knowledge. Thus, many users feel like this is an invasion of their privacy and want to opt out of this system. Below is an infographic created by Panda Security that details all the information social media collects and how to secure user profiles.

It is valuable information for consumers, but is also extremely relevant to a business’ online presence. Now more than ever, users are moving to secure their profiles, so it is important to know what their options are so you can find out how this affects your business. There might even be a revival of older advertising methods with this emphasis on privacy, and your business should be prepared for it.