Ethical Issues With Brands’ Social Media Targeting Methods

One of the major ethical issues in social media includes the proper use of consumers’ personal data. This begins with how social networks inform users of what their privacy levels are, how the settings can be customized and how much of their information is actually deemed “public.” A common ethical concern social media data being used for brand marketing; targeting audiences based on relevant associations or unethically through what can be considered intrusive data mining.

A positive to brand targeting through social media can be the consumer receiving messaging that they actually do want. Social media allows marketers to go beyond the normal demographics and psychographics data and access exactly what a consumer likes, is interested in, what they are affiliated with and how they interact/engage with people and products. They truly can understand who their audience is with such specific information.

Social media enables marketers to have a direct channel for their brand to reach the proper target audience. Engagement with the consumer becomes interactive; no longer “top-down” message sending. Brands can listen to their consumers and return information and products through campaigns that are entertaining, caused-based or even political. Social media allows for the traditional communication process to be reversed; creating a win-win for both consumers and the brand. Consumers are able to determine their marketing experience which increases their ability to receive desired messages. Marketers are able to build brand loyalty with the goal to increase sales.

 

However, major concerns come into play when consumers feel like their privacy has been breached by social media. Internet users can opt-in or opt-out of behavioral targeting on legitimate sites; however some companies websites utilize malicious software to collect sensitive data without the user knowing. Consumers can be exposed to spam, data tracking, malware, identity theft and defamation.

Most browsers can block third-party cookies with privacy protection programs to increase security and reduce tracking by marketers. The battle over consumer privacy issues is strong and websites are obligated to give users the option to revoke contextual and behavioral targeting. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission proposed a “do not track” mechanism to allow internet users to opt-out of behavioral targeting in 2011. However, some sites attach malware to consumers’ computers. Malware is an application or add-on to software that alters system settings. It spawns pop-ups, inserts advertisements and mask activities by providing services such as weather reports. Malware makes users vulnerable to identity theft of social security numbers, credit cards and more. It is hard for users to remove; it requires anti-virus programs and sometimes more advanced treatments which non computer-savvy individuals will have difficulty completing.

 

Social media networks are known as public sites where people can share freely. They have comment boxes, wall posts, “like” buttons and widgets all which are trackable. These allow marketers to monitor and analyze consumer behavior on social media. Brands can use that information to adjust behavioral and contextual targeting as well as encourage word-of-mouth and viral advertising.

Privacy issues will arise in his new-age of consumers willing to share and post brand-related content. Companies that use social media marketing strategies must be aware of their increased exposure to litigation on social media channels. In conclusion, I think it is ethical to use social media to target advertising as long as it is done legally and at the consent of a willing consumer.

*References:
Mateo Gutierrez
Boundless

Current Marketing Trends, Influencers and Targets

Current Trends:

An interesting Forbes article titled, “2014 Marketing Predictions With A Twist” states “marketers in 2014 will finally realize the days of campaign-centricity are over; the customer now controls the message.” Marketers must review each year’s successes and failures to build new effective programs. The market trend is leaning towards more customer focused efforts with the ability to adapt efforts in real time; not necessarily follow a strict campaign calendar. Whether it is responsive design, agile marketing, or learning and working new social channels, marketers need to be more on top of what customers are doing, how technologies are changing and how to succeed during those changes. Digital and social media advertising have continued to evolve and become the top form of marketing efforts for many industries.

Influencers:

According to a study by Impact Radius, an international marketing technology firm, they “compiled a list of the top performance marketing influencers by using a proprietary formula designed to determine blog influence, re-tweet frequency, citations by other influential bloggers and related factors measuring the impact of the top 400 thought leaders. Impact Radius then assigned weights to each factor and ranked the results to create its top 25 list.” See detailed information on their website.

Impact Radius researched the 400 people and measured their influence using a weighted average formula consisting of Alexa, Klout influence, Google Social Mentions, Google Page Rank, PeerIndex, HowSociable and Twitter followers. Criteria required:

  1. The individual needed to have a substantial online social presence.
  2. The influencer needed to have a major emphasis on Performance Marketing.
  3. The Influencer’s content must be educational and not self aggrandizing.

The Top 25 with Blog and Twitter Accounts

1 Brian Clark copyblogger.com @copyblogger
2 Shawn Collins blog.affiliatetip.com @affiliatetip
3 Jeremy Schoemaker shoemoney.com @shoemoney
4 John Chow johnchow.com @johnchow
5 Brett Tabke pubcon.com @btabke
6 Rae Hoffman-Dolan sugarrae.com @sugarrae
7 Missy Ward missyward.com @MissyWard
8 Peter Bordes mediatrust.com @mediatrustpete
9 Pace Lattin performinsider.com @pacelattin
10 Lynn Terry clicknewz.com @lynnterry
11 Matthew Wood affiliates4u.com @matthewwood
12 Geno Prussakov affilinomics.com @ePrussakov
13 Andrew Girdwood blog.arhg.net/ @AndrewGirdwood
14 Greg Hoffman internetmarketinggorilla.com @akagorilla
15 Peter Hamilton hasoffers.com @PeterHamilton
16 Murray Newlands murraynewlands.com @MurrayNewlands
17 Angel Djambazov revenews.com @djambazov
18 Jonathan Volk jonathanvolk.com @jonathanvolk
19 James Martell jamesmartell.com @JamesMartell
20 Ian Fernando ianfernando.com @ianternet
21 Deborah Carney a.k.a. Loxly affiliateabcs.com @loxly
22 Tricia Meyer tricia.me @sunshinetricia
23 Jay Berkowitz tengoldenrules.com @JayBerkowitz
24 Zac Johnson zacjohnson.com @moneyreign
25 Kirsty McCubbin affiliatestuff.co.uk @AffiliateStuff

Targets:

The demographics and psychographics for marketing vary greatly depending on who marketers are targeting and what product they are promoting. Check out a guide to demographics in an article by Entrepreneur called, “Know your Target Audience.”