Our Laws Aren’t Equipped for Online Privacy Issues

This week’s news is packed with information about online privacy. LinkedIn is going to start tracking your interaction with LinkedIn services even if you’re not logged in, your phone’s battery status tells marketers where you are, and the FCC chair told The Washington Post that he doesn’t like where online privacy is headed.

Nothing you type, send, or share online is private. We wrote several weeks ago that Facebook admitted that programmers with access to their data warehouse could find links privately shared between members of your organization.

Advocates continue scrambling to find new ways of protecting consumer interests. But consumers are often willing to trade their information for free services. Facebook and Google, arguably North America’s two most important online consumer websites, have business models based on “consuming the consumer”.

This isn’t the first time that business model has been used. Minimalist artist Richard Serra gave an interview in the 1970s where he quoted the short film, “Television Delivers”. Serra explained that the entire television model was based on delivering consumers to advertisers. That business model thrives today online, augmented by the collection of new data and the digitization of existing data.

Everything from our cars to our televisions to our thermostats–even our medical equipment–is collected, aggregated, analyzed, and packaged for advertising. Consider that every website you visit, every video you watch, search you make, or message you type is stored in many places and eventually added to the record that becomes your digital footprint.

Check with us if you need help with your organization’s online marketing. Write me at george@silverbeaconmarketing.com for help.

Highlights from this week’s news about privacy

Sharing Business Value Reports

Antivirus company AVG pushed a great report to me earlier today called a “Threat Report”.   The security company with the ‘Freemium’ model wanted me to give them credit for protecting one my computers from a series of problems.  It’s a smart, relatively passive way for the company to prove its product’s worth to a user who is a potential up-sell.

silver-beacon-marketing-logoSilver Beacon Marketing does a similar thing, showing clients their return on investment (ROI) for advertising campaigns or other goals from our search engine optimization efforts.  That is proprietary data that few would publicize, but I’ve lost count of the number of times a referral has quoted their friend’s ROI to me. Sharing your business value is easy.

Bragging about the number of threats your computer stopped is something you might share with anyone.  The whole thing sounds like fun.  And even a small adoption rate can mean some great exposure.  Let’s say that the report showed your level of web savvy and a fun rating about your computer’s strength along with some Twitter and Facebook share buttons.  Your product gets valuable exposure every time someone sends that report to their Twitter or Facebook stream.

Enabling that sharing function is only a part of the battle though. Sharing has to be simple–absolutely frictionless–to get the best possible return.  And that’s what I experienced today when I reactivated a StumbleUpon account.

Signing up was easy–only four fields after I clicked “connect with Facebook”.  And the company was smart enough to ask, “Hey, since you’re recommending pages to strangers, how about recommending them to your friends?”

Why not?  That makes perfectly good sense.  And with each post to my Facebook page, StumbleUpon gets a big endorsement from me to anyone connected with me.

Asking that question is smart.  My Facebook friends might not have a StumbleUpon account, but all the work is done for me if I want to post a link to my Facebook page or other social media channels. That is completely frictionless.

Your takeaway as a small business leader is to consider how your company communicates its real business value to stakeholders.  Special bonus points if you make sharing that information easy.