So, What’s Up with Students?

Posted on November 8, 2010 by 2 Comments

Coming off the recent elections, you might be wondering how students feel about politics, their outlook on life and —given the success of Facebook and the movie “The Social Network” — how young people feel about social media content, privacy and employment prospects.

A recent study conducted by Waggener Edstrom Worldwide among 802 students ages 16–26, reveals some interesting results.

Key Findings

Students don’t trust politicians:

Compared to adults, students are more likely to have no opinion on President Obama:

While students skew toward being Democratic, more than one-in-four describe themselves as Independent:


Students’ most influential person is their teacher/professor:

Roughly, seven in 10 students are not concerned about social media privacy because they manage their privacy settings:


More than a third of students believe that content posted on social networking sites will not impact their employment opportunities. An additional 20 percent of students report that they wouldn’t want to work for a company that reviewed their social media content and declined to extend an offer:


Despite current economic conditions, students are largely optimistic about the future:


While some may say that students are naive and wildly optimistic, it seems that — given their positive outlook and transparent attitudes toward social media content — students would value marketing communications that are upbeat, yet straightforward and honest.  While they may not want news to be sugarcoated, doom and gloom communications won’t fit their world view.

About the Latest Facebook Privacy Scandal

Posted on October 19, 2010 by Comments Off

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Facebook was passing user IDs to application developers and providers, enabling them access to private data. Part of me wants to say no big deal — and this probably wouldn’t be a big deal if this data wasn’t being abused by some application providers and developers.

What the issue is:
When you use a Facebook application, Facebook passes a URL string to the application. That URL string includes a personal ID. Facebook IDs look something like In the last few days, Facebook has taken steps to hide the IDs.  What is happening is the applications are collecting referring URL data, a common practice in any digital marketing campaign. Whether or not these applications knew it or used it, the personal IDs were often included in these referring URL strings.

Most applications and companies providing applications ignore this information, but a few used it to mine Facebook profiles and sell data to other companies. At present, Facebook is making some changes to the structure of these URLs.  But, as an application user, you should still be wary. Some tips:

  • Consider what the value is of the application to you versus the risk.
  • Know who the application developers or hosts are and know what their business is. If they are online advertising or data mining companies, they are probably collecting some form of data.
  • Don’t log into every application you run across.
  • Be cautious about the information you include in your Facebook profile. Even if you have a very private profile, your friends’ accounts could always get hacked.

If you’re a developer or provider of Facebook applications or use Facebook for identity management, you need to be transparent and careful how you use the system.

  • Explain to the user why logging in to Facebook from your site provides value.
  • Be transparent about what data is collected and how it is used.
  • Just because a user agrees to allow you access to their information, doesn’t mean you should abuse it or transfer that agreement to a 3rd party.

Facebook’s privacy practices are not necessarily bad or out-of-line with the industry as a whole. But, as the most prominent network, it has a higher standard and needs to set the bar for all others. As users, we need to understand that there is risk. As marketers who use the Facebook platform, we must adhere to higher standards as well and respect the trust that both Facebook and its customers have placed in us.

Blippy Lets Four Users Hit Ground in Trust Fall — How Can It Re-Establish Trust?

Posted on April 23, 2010 by 5 Comments

There was a dust up on Twitter today about Blippy, the online service that people use to announce their purchases to the world (My Blippy account). I first saw it this morning on a Venturebeat blog post. Apparently, some smart person found out that a specific type of search would churn up Blippy results with credit card numbers in them. Of course, this caused hysteria, lashing out and loss of trust in the service.

Blippy trust fallThings looked bad — real bad. After conducting my own search, I was surprised to see page after page of results, all with credit card numbers in them. This was enough to set the lynch mob that is Twitter into motion. It wasn’t long before Philip Kaplan responded with a detailed account of what had gone wrong. To my amazement, of the pages upon pages of search results, only four credit card numbers were actually listed.

Don’t get me wrong — that really sucks for those four people. But it was far from a massive breach of the Blippy credit card number database. Still, Blippy had quite a PR nightmare on its hands. For a service completely built on the trust people have in sharing their financial information with it, everything seems to have been lost. After news broke of credit card numbers in Google results, who would trust Blippy again?

I saw tweets left and right all morning from angry users who were closing their Blippy accounts, even after Kaplan’s explanation of the small, contained problem.

This demonstrates what all too many companies don’t appreciate — your most valuable asset is your customer’s trust.

What, if anything, can Blippy do to regain users’ trust? The Next Web recommends giving Blippy another chance by doing the following:

… publicly remunerate the people who had their information leaked, redouble security efforts, and make plain hopefully through a high-profile new hire that security is at the very core of the Blippy product.

What do you think? Can Blippy regain the trust it lost today? If so, how should it go about doing so?

Image by genvessel.

This post was originally published on

You Can’t Hide From the Web

Posted on February 24, 2010 by Comments Off

I know my friend, Brian Sollom, is nodding his head and Mike “foleymo” Foley has probably already signed up. The Next Web is reporting about a new app that allows you to take a picture of someone and pull up all of their recent social activity. It’s not hard to let your imagination go from there.

Stalk a Stranger. Point Your Phone At Their Face.

Recognizr works when the user points the camera at another person. Inbuilt face recognition software maps a 3D model of the subject and transmits the information to a remote server where it is matched with an identity already present in the database. This information is then sent back to the handset along with any relevant social networking information associated to that person, conveniently displayed above the persons head using little social icons.

The service is opt-in only (right now), but face recognition technology exists from companies like HP and Microsoft. There are even free versions out there. It’s only a matter of time before this capability is available without having to opt in.

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This will scare the crap out of a large number of people. I understand but there’s no turning back.You can either try, unsuccessfully, to hide from it or you can take control of it and manage it.

Here are my 3 big takeaways for you:

  1. There are no back channels. Do not say anything on the Web you wouldn’t want everyone and anyone to see.
  2. Understand how to use the tools. Facebook and Google don’t make it easy to control your privacy (it’s in their best interest when more data is public), but understand how to use the privacy settings and use them as you see appropriate.
  3. There is no difference between online, offline and mobile realities.

I’ve long claimed that ther is no difference between online and offline. Augmented reality apps are another example of this.

As marketers we need to quit talking about online versus offline versus mobile. The form factor and user interface may be different, but all three coexist and we need to be thinking about and using all three. We also need to act responsibly with customers’ best interest in mind.

Don’t sacrifice customer privacy and comfort for monetary gain. There is a backlash coming, it won’t be pretty and you don’t want to be on the wrong side of that fire storm.

This post was cross posted on New Comm Biz

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