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Tweets for Sale?

Twitter Amping Up Sale of Data

The announcement that Twitter plans to supply user data (not the private parts like direct messages, mind you) to marketing firms like Klout and companies including IBM, Oracle and Salesforce.com has me pondering both privacy on social media, and the possibilities for marketers and consumers.

This Twitter announcement is a bit different than a similar recent announcement regarding Facebook (link to blog post) in that tweets are already completely public, meaning the data shared isn’t anything marketers and corporations couldn’t have already accessed. Twitter’s Data Strategy Chief, Chris Moody, also assures us that the data is completely anonymized before being sold, preventing the users in question from being identified.

28863322_S I do wonder whether private feeds will be included. Although rare, there are people who “approve” new followers before the new follower can see their tweets.

The potential marketing applications include targeting advertising, through the matching of users to a company’s database of customers; as well as customized customer experience based on profiling. The latter possibility excites me — I could see companies with marketing goals similar to those of WestJet using this information to only further their commitment to customer experience. Already known for their unique and heartwarming semi-personalized customer service and marketing stunts, WestJet could leverage access to data like this to provide personalized gifts or greetings or simply give staff knowledge of specific fliers’ needs and situations.

Yet, these types of announcements also tend to make me a bit nervous. From a personal standpoint, I am a social media user and I don’t want my personal information packaged and sold. But this is also a reminder that while social media seems free, it is not. There is no immediate cost for use, but social media services like Twitter do come at a price. More and more, that price is in the form of agreeing to share our opinions, preferences and demographic information with marketers and corporations. That is sure to bring with it both positive and negative effects including users questioning their online privacy and even shutting their accounts down as some Facebook users have done.

However, the ever-increasing opportunities for companies to tailor their messaging and customize their products to meet extremely current and specific client needs and opinions are powerful — as long as they’re used for good, not evil.

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Amanda Schewaga
About the Author - Amanda Schewaga
Over the past eight years, Amanda has used her powers in social media strategy and content development to help small and big businesses triumph in the online world. BAM! There she goes launching a social media campaign with a reach of over 3 million impressions. KABOOM! There she goes getting her clients to the forefront of their industry and building a dedicated online community.

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