I attended the inaugural meeting of the Social Media Group for the Direct Marketing Association yesterday. It was generally a gathering of the great and the good from various social media and digital agencies, along with some software houses and a few other (useful) odds and sods. It’s early days but initial discussions around what we might achieve as a group were good and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can build.
As ever when you get more than two people involved in social media together, there was a brief discussion about what we meant and what the key issues were, one of the many that cropped up was privacy. In particular, what right do we have to approach the person via their online homes? The note I scribbled to myself to explore later said ‘is it up to companies to seek the individual or the to be there when the individual comes looking?’. Obviously the answer is both, the tricky part is getting the right balance.
Some individuals will be happy to be sought out. Though we shouldn’t assume that just because a consumer makes their data publicly available that they actually think, want or desire that a business, of any size, will use it to market to them. Of course some individuals will make it difficult to find that information, they are the ones who value their privacy. We also shouldn’t assume that just because a online user is sharing data that it is actually the truth. For example, do you really think I’m actually going to do the Tough Guy?.Seeking out the individual via online channels cannot be done lightly. One fleeting thought I had was that perhaps, in a few years, we will see a Social Network preference service which people can use to opt out of being pro-actively targeted.
The other side of the coin, is making sure that you are there ready to answer the questions that a consumer may have that you can reasonably answer. Knowledge of search is going to be vital for PROs in the future, you’re already missing a trick if you’re not considering it as an integral part of what you do right now. And by search I don’t just mean optimising press releases and distributing them over the wire to help build link love.