We’re living in the age of information overload thanks to Google, Wikipedia, and the sheer access we have to data.

That’s OK though. We can choose to access it when we want and, if we’re fed up, turn off the computer, the TV, and leave the mobile upstairs for a few hours.

Except, what if you didn’t choose to have things thrust upon you? You’d be mighty peed off…

I’m getting at the Facebook scandal that’s been bubbling over during the last couple of weeks. Millions were pretty peeved that the Messenger app automatically became part of their user experience, having been forced upon them.

But then the stories came out about data farming and the radical ways in which the apps impacts on users lives, with reports ranging from being able to compose messages on people’s phones to outright spying.

A matter of privacy

 

Or so the tales went. Facebook has since posted a message online explaining why the app needs to use so many features in the help section of its website, though it hasn’t stopped people complaining and leaving negative reviews on app stores.

Facebook can survive because hundreds of millions of people use it every single day, though this isn’t the first time its reputation has taken a battering because of privacy. Users aren’t happy as well because, against a lot of people’s wishes, they were forced to download the Messenger app which rocked the status quo.

Brand arrogance? Facebook isn’t the only one guilty of it. A lot of people are unhappy with LinkedIn’s Pulse feature because they’re getting overwhelmed with stories that aren’t relevant to them which are spamming up their feeds. Again radical changes forced upon the user.

Other companies have fallen into the trap of changing the core service once it has a big enough user base, but there’s a lot less risk for them because they have an established number of customers whose tolerance levels accept change, though begrudgingly at times.

Could a much smaller company get away with the privacy publicity a company like Facebook generates? Not likely. In fact a number of companies have been pummelled for much smaller transgressions on social media.

What are your thoughts about the Facebook Messenger app, and has the company gone the right way about introducing it? Let me know in the comments section below.

Transparency and communication

If you’re an online business that uses visitor data and collects emails, telephone numbers, and more then there are laws in place regarding the data you can capture and use. This is people’s privacy you’re dealing with, after all.

And for a lot of companies that information is vital for growth and building relationships with their customers. But how do you do it in the right way and let your visitors know which data you’re collecting without alienating them?

 

Transparency is the key. People aren’t stupid and it’s very dangerous to assume and treat your customers as such.

 

Transparency is the key. People aren’t stupid and it’s very dangerous to assume and treat your customers as such.

If you outline exactly which pieces of information you need from them and how you’re going to use it then they’ll be more than happy to share it with you if the incentive is there and you give them the option to opt out, should they so wish.

Data capture is an important part of online marketing, but it’s essential to get the consumer balance right. What methods and tools do you use? Let me know below!

Tips on making people feel safe and secure

Data’s a big deal online, and before you start collecting it you’ll need to brush up on the law of what you can collect and how you can use it. If you collect data without telling anyone and pass it on to other companies then expect some strong words from the authorities.

Here are some tips on how to capture data the right way without keeping your customers at arms length:

#1 Give them the option

As I mentioned before giving people the option to opt in and explaining what they get out of handing over their email address or phone number is one of the best ways to be transparent.

You may worry that giving people the chance to opt out isn’t good for business but what would you prefer? A happy customer that visits time and again or someone that hates getting their inbox spammed and telling all their friends how you mishandled their information?

Step up security on your website.#2 Step up security on your website

Google has recently declared HTTPS a ranking factor. Google is calling for ‘HTTPS everywhere’ to create a more secure web, and having the protocol on your website can go a long way to showing users that yours is a company that takes security seriously.

You’ll likely be storing customer data and information on a secure server and other databases. Are they and your online payment systems as safe and secure as they can possibly be, and do your customers know the measures you’re taking to keep them safe?

#3 Outline it as simply as possible

Aside from the technical bits, people can also feel secure if you invest in drafting up a unique privacy policy that outlines the data you’re capturing and how you intend to use it.

But how many people are actually going to read such a lengthy legal document before they give you their data? A detailed FAQ and help section on your website with the finer points explained as simply as possible makes it a lot easier for people to understand what your business needs and why.

There are all sorts of considerations to put in place before you capture and use people’s data to give them a great user experience and expand your business. Get it wrong and people won’t be happy. Get it right, though, and together you can create a phenomenal web experience for all.

If you’d like to find out how to generate more leads for your business and how to capture data ethically check out the services Webpresence offer today!