Facebook Users Concerned About Providing Access to Marketers

06/14/2011 12:00 pm ET | Updated Aug 13, 2011

THE PROBLEM: Social-media driven offers that should be igniting sparks with younger consumers are underperforming.

THE SOLUTION: Learn about the rapidly changing concerns of your target group regarding privacy, sharing data, and providing access to their identity, online. Their level of concern has grown exponentially in the past 12 months.

Marketers have been fooling themselves into believing that someone under 35 who uses Facebook will automatically open up and share personal information... with little or no concern for the safeguards that govern how that information will be used.

Younger consumers may, as a group, be more comfortable using the social media tools than older consumers - but they may be more worried about the ramifications of giving access to themselves, their world, and their data.

Thanks to heavy usage of social media channels, they are more likely to have been burned in the past. With more complex networks of online social relationships than older users, they are more likely to think twice about how disclosing information will affect those relationships.

In a recent interview, my son Elias Roman, CEO of the social music service, said "We have conducted Voice of Customer, (VOC), research with younger consumers and identified a clear pattern: People are deeply concerned about saying 'Yes' to services that ask for permission to interact with their Facebook account information. They say, 'I'm afraid marketers will use my information in ways that I don't approve of. I'm afraid I will see things on my Facebook wall that I don't want. I'm afraid that my friends will think I'm spamming them."

Elias adds, "So, there are both personal security and social responsibility concerns."

Songza management concluded from the VOC findings that, despite the promise of 'instant personalization' afforded by accessing the deep data stored in a user's Facebook account, connecting to Facebook was not an acceptable "first date" experience for prospective customers. Leveraging 'instant personalization' platforms like Facebook is an important part of the long-term value delivered by Songza - which is to quickly and easily build users a sharable streaming music collection based on their friends and their interests- but, like any other opt-in, the consumer must first be shown why giving Songza access to their data is in their best interest.

In Songza's case, this meant starting with whatever 'preference indicators' it already had - sometimes as little as a preferred artist and the user's location (as determined by IP address) to show how relevant information about the user would lead to better personalized recommendations. Once that was established, requesting that the user connect to Facebook would be perceived much more positively, if presented correctly. For example, "Connect to Facebook!" is not a compelling call to action. "Getter better recommendations and trade playlists with your friends by using Facebook Connect", provides a clear benefit.

But that is only part of the equation. An equally important part of earning a user's opt-in is to give them a clearer understanding of the company's commitment to safeguard their data and use it in ways that will not carry negative social implications.

In particular, Songza got a positive response to providing a link to the administration section of the user's Facebook account that would let them 'disconnect' Songza at any time, for any reason. The message Songza sent was "We're so confident we'll use your information the way you want us to, that we'll make it super simple for you to take that permission away if you're ever unhappy."

THE RESULT: Within 60 days of implementing site changes driven by Songza's VOC research, average visit length on increased by over 50%, to above 42 minutes, driving a corresponding increase in average monthly revenue per user.


  • Don't make assumptions about social media acceptance or tolerance.
  • Gather voice-of-customer guidance from your customers and prospects. This is a volatile channel. Find out the concerns/sensitivities about sharing personal data ... especially if that group includes younger consumers.
  • Learn the value they expect to receive in return for giving you that data. Find out whether a "first date" experience is necessary to earn their trust.

Ernan Roman is President of the marketing consultancy, Ernan Roman Direct Marketing.
Recognized as the industry pioneer who created three transformational methodologies: Integrated Direct Marketing, Opt-In Marketing, and Voice of Customer Relationship Research.

Clients include Microsoft, NBC Universal, Disney, Hewlett-Packard and IBM.

2010-12-08-ernan.jpgErnan was named to "B to B's Who's Who" as one of the "100 most influential people" in Business Marketing by Crain's B to B Magazine.

His fourth and latest book on marketing best practices is titled: Voice of the Customer Marketing: A Proven 5-Step Process to Create Customers Who Care, Spend, and Stay.

Ernan is also the co-author of "Opt-In Marketing: Increase Sales Exponentially with Consensual Marketing" and author of "Integrated Direct Marketing: The Cutting Edge Strategy for Synchronizing Advertising, Direct Mail, Telemarketing and Field Sales."