Study after study has shown that consumers are growing increasingly comfortable with sharing information about themselves on social media networks. But, there are limits as to exactly what they are willing to post online, and marketers need to be aware that many consumers prefer to keep certain information to themselves.
Respondents to a recent survey conducted by global internet research firm uSamp made these privacy boundaries perfectly clear. While some differences exist between genders or vary by age group, the majority of the 600 men and women surveyed agreed on some critical points, including:
- Name. 86 percent of men and 88 percent of women said they freely share their name on social media.
- Religious affiliation. Six in 10 men and women replied “yes” when asked whether they would disclose their religion online.
- Relationship status. More than 70 percent of all respondents were comfortable sharing this.
- Brand preference. Good news for marketers here—nearly 80 percent of men and more than 75 percent of women said they would provide feedback on which brands they prefer.
The survey also revealed several more data points consumers would willingly share, although in these cases, men demonstrated a greater comfort level than women:
- Email address. Men 55 percent, women 42 percent
- Personal photos. 61 to 51 percent
- Level of education. 72 to 62 percent
- Birthdate. 53 to 46 percent
Still, not every topic is considered acceptable for public consumption online.
When it comes to revealing information that might put their personal security at risk or enable strangers to infringe on their privacy, nearly all respondents to this survey displayed much more caution –and this was especially true for women.
For example, when asked whether they would provide their telephone numbers on social media, only 4 percent of women and 15 percent of men said yes. This same prudence applied to sharing home addresses, with only 4 percent of women and 11 percent of men saying they would do so. And the survey also found a reluctance to divulge level of income (16 percent of the men versus 5 percent of the women).
While it’s true that marketers can learn a great deal from the information consumers post about themselves on social networks, responsible marketers know not to cross the line when it comes to personal privacy. Remember: The best customer relationships are grounded in trust. So, marketers need to be transparent in their practices, and they must recognize (and respect) that despite the overwhelming popularity of social media platforms, most people still have serious reservations about privacy and security on the social web.