Protecting Privacy

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Beware! Big Brother isn’t the only one watching your every keystroke or click. Brands are also closely monitoring your online activity, gathering more than enough information to target you in their next campaigns.

What type of information is being collected? What are companies doing with the information? Are they trustworthy? How is that information being protected?

The Pew Research Center released a new study Tuesday that found there is widespread concern about government and business surveillance:

91% of adults in the survey ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ that consumers have lost control over how personal information is collected and used by companies.”

Ever Google your name? You probably wouldn’t consider yourself a celebrity, but you’ll still pop up in the results. One of the first links, Spokeo, will more than likely show your name, age, and where you live. That’s pretty scary!

CNN spoke to Don Jackson, a security researcher, in August 2012. He warned “data mining” can lead to hacking, identity theft, and stalking:

We have seen cases where just basic information, just very few pieces from social networks, can lead predators to potential victims, for example. That’s a common scenario, actually.”

Companies need to be transparent in their quest for information about consumers.

Facebook updated its privacy policy on Wednesday. The social Screen Shot 2014-11-15 at 10.31.14 AMmedia website also released an easy-to-read, interactive guide for users to learn what information is being gathered and how it is used and shared. It’s still pretty complicated to understand.

SnapChat, a popular photo-sharing app, is also taking steps to make users feel safe. CNN Money reports the company will:

Warn you if another app on your phone is saving your pictures. Snapchatters using third-party apps will be forced to change their password. If they refuse, their accounts will be locked.”

AT&T stopped using hidden “super cookies” on smart phones on Friday. USA Today reports the change came after consumer pressure.

Online tracking isn’t going to go away anytime soon. In fact, it will only become a bigger issue. There is no way the federal government can regulate because the problem is universal. Privacy really starts with the user, though. Only share information you don’t mind being blasted to the world. What if consumers got paid for their information? Would that make it more acceptable?

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Content Pays Off

If a brand doesn’t have a strong presence on the web, it simply doesn’t exist. Whether it’s shopping, researching, or communicating, we’re obsessed with spending endless hours online.

Dancing_With_the_Stars_(2012)_-_Samba_performed_by_Rati_TsiteladzeHave you seen the end of a McDonald’s commercial? Not only does the fast food restaurant include a link to its website, but it displays icons informing consumers they can connect on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Have you watched “Dancing with the Stars” on ABC? #DWTS is in the upper right corner during the entire show. Viewers can also go online and get a behind-the-scenes look of the live event.

A well-developed online strategy is more successful than basic advertising because it generates content: articles, blogs, forum messages, videos, and social media posts. As Nick Burcher explained in “Paid, Owned, Earned:”

Search engines match users with specific information, and developing content in line with search behavior can deliver a ‘free’ audience, reducing the need to use paid media to create attention.”

When brands produce content, it increases the chances it is going to be seen by a wider audience. Burcher shared this excerpt from Malcolm Coles’ Online Journalism Blog:

If you want to do well in Google for relevant searches, publish early, publish often, and put your keywords at the front.”

The hit ABC show “Scandal” is a force to be reckon with on Thursday nights on Twitter. #Scandal is consistently one of the top DVD_cover,_Scandal_season_4,_September_2014trending topics, making the show one that no one wants to DVR. Adweek stated the premiere in September inspired 718,000 tweets that reached 4.16 million accounts. As the L.A. Times noted, the show is a new-media phenomenon:

Without Twitter to boost its profile and then its ratings, “Scandal” probably would have been canceled. Instead, it’s held up as an example of social media prowess by networks and branding experts of every stripe, and its success further stokes the belief that somehow Twitter can save us all.”

Look at what GQ Magazine is up to these days. The men’s fashion publication is making it easier for readers to “Get the GQ Look.” The editors select items from the pages each month and make them available on a special section of their website.


Don’t forget about Jimmy Fallon! The host of NBC’s Tonight Show is a content-sharing genius. He often encourages his celebrity guests to take part in entertaining skits, like a lip sync battle with Emma Stone. After the show, the segment is uploaded to YouTube. The video currently has more than 34.2 million views. These viral videos are helping Fallon boost his ratings each night for FREE.

In case you haven’t realized, content pays off. Earned media carries more power than any other format.