Are businesses invading privacy by listening in on social media conversations?


Social media experts have told us time and again that listening is a vital component of social media strategy. Listening helps companies to learn how better to serve and engage with customers. But a new survey by Netbase and J.D. Power and Associates has thrown up an interesting conundrum for business: consumers think that listening is an invasion of privacy – except when it’s not.


Have a look at this compelling graphic by Netbase and J.D. Power. Some interesting findings include:

32% of consumers have NO IDEA that companies are listening
• 51% want to talk about companies in social media without them listening
43% think listening in social media is an invasion of privacy

But here’s the rub:

• 48% of customers say companies should just listen in social media to improve products and services, but…
• 58% have a double standard – they want companies only to respond to complaints in social media

And, you’re going to love this:

• 42% expect companies to respond to positive comments in social media, and
64% want companies to respond to social comments only when spoken to

Ay, caramba! (as they say in Mexico). What’s a company to do? Helpfully, Netbase and J.D. Power have some suggestions:

1. Don’t just listen, understand.
2. Consider the context of posts.
3. Engage with the intention of delivering mutual value
4. Demonstrate how listening doesn’t intrude but instead builds relationships.

Take a look at the Slideshare presentation which has lots of other interesting statistic for you to ponder. (The online survey of 1,062 U.S. consumers was conducted in December 2012. Without access to their methodology, we can’t comment on the validity of the findings. Even so, it brings an interesting issue – online privacy – into the light for examination and discussion.)