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Back Talk: Will Timeline Affect Your Brand’s Privacy?

Pew Research estimates two-thirds of Internet users use social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, and regardless of network, privacy is a concern. With Facebook expected to announce plans to expand its Timeline format to brands tomorrow at a conference for marketers in New York, those privacy concerns could prove problematic for brands, which should be looking to expand their online presence in what some are calling our post-Timeline world. Facebook began rolling out the photo-driven profile format to individual users in September 2011, and while some users love it, others say that with every facelift, Facebook is becoming harder to navigate in terms of user privacy. In many cases, and not just on Facebook, the confusion centers around users now needing to opt-out of features they once opted-in to. As Facebook users grow increasingly savvy, the expanding social Timeline could pose a challenge to brands hoping to build sincere and trustworthy connections with cautious consumers.

Maybe I’m just blogging out loud, but it seems like consumer privacy should be a top priority, and not just online. With consumers looking to reign in their private lives, shared information could become an oddity and a commodity.

Which prompts the question: Are you concerned that online privacy problems will affect your social marketing efforts? How will you tap into Facebook’s Timeline, while safeguarding your brand and fans?

Please leave comments in the section below, or join the conversation on Vertical Marketing Network’s Facebook page.

Brought to you by Vertical Marketing Network, a Leading Integrated Marketing Agency.
Photo:  Stock photo

About JJ Nelson

Freelance blogger for Vertical Marketing Network; food writer; bartender.

10 comments on “Back Talk: Will Timeline Affect Your Brand’s Privacy?

  1. Jo
    March 3, 2012

    As a brand it comes back to transparency – companies will always desire control over the communication around their brand – but I think we as Marketers need to realize, now it seems we no longer hold the reins. Somebody is going to post our past brand/company mistakes online, so why not take the lead in order to turn the tide? Has the digital revolution instigated an era of corporate honesty and humility? Who knows 🙂


  2. Paul Domen
    March 2, 2012

    This is a really sensitive topic, and I for one, have stopped using Google as my search engine. As for Facebook, it’s becoming far too personal and far too detailed for my liking. I’m thinking about eliminating it all together (saving all my pictures of course). A lot of people aren’t aware that whatever you put on Facebook, or any social media for that matter, is there forever. You are essentially leaving a virtual footprint for all to see.
    From a marketing standpoint, I really wouldn’t know how to utilize this tool as an effective marketing strategy…except to maybe show the progression of a product from idea, to production, to refinement?


    March 1, 2012

    Looks like Alice started the ball rolling here! Great comments. Unfortunately, when we link into any sm that is free, we then become their property. I realize that these sites need to generate income and the only way is by sharing. I think the privacy issue bothers us more than the generations behind us as this is their life. Brands just need to be sensitive to the frequency they contact consumers so as not to really turn them off to their products. I don’t mind as I realize this is becomming their only avenue to tap into me … cause the mail just doesn’t work anymore (lol).


  4. Tiffany
    February 29, 2012

    I do not personally have a problem with the loss of privacy on Facebook. I believe that individuals and brands who post information that can be used or seen by those they do not want viewing it should not put that information up. There are certain things that need to remain private and should not be shared, even if it is to show off to our friends and family.

    I subscribed to a shoe company on Facebook. Recently a photo was posted that many subscribers disliked, so they commented on it. The shoe company deleted all of the comments. I feel like this should not have been hidden as not everyone will like everything you have to offer. Maybe brands should not be allowed to the privacy that individuals should be….


  5. Addie Van Gessel
    February 28, 2012

    This is a serious issue as we can tell from comments already posted. Alice, so right about not being able to keep up…I’m just not allowing anything anymore because I don’t yet fully understand the ramifications of agreeing to the changes. But Facebook is by no means the only sm site taking advantage of consumer failings here. Just heard a story on NPR this morning about upcoming Google changes as well. Basically they are placing cookies on your system and then pushing marketing messages to you based on latest online movements. Will even start tracking mouse movements – YIKES!

    Re: branding that is interesting because it is a wonderful opportunity for marketers to be in touch with their end-users, but why should P&G know how often we need to wash clothes based on our sporting activities? Big Brother – for sure!


  6. Kate
    February 28, 2012

    I think that all of the changes that are happening on Facebook and with all of the social networks is expected, though it may not always be welcomed by the users. Honestly, by now anyone (brands or individuals) that is posting information or photos on a social network should expect that information to be widely available, nothing should appear that would either embarass the company, or reflect badly on the brand.

    The changes just reinforce the fact that posts on social networks should be filtered and the pages regularlly monitored for comments that should be removed. At the moment, anyone that visits a brand page can go back and look at the older information that still resides on the site, it just takes a little more work.

    Regarding the design of the new timeline, I do think that it is better for brands since the visual layout allows for both bigger and additional images, which make more of an impact when one visits the page. For example, the newest product, or upcoming event could be featured in the cover photo.


  7. Barbara
    February 28, 2012

    Privacy, lol, we have lost that a long time ago, we can’t put Pandora back in the box. Facebook has crept in and gutted us like a fish. People post pictures and write things that they would never say or show face to face. If you “like” us and enter to win a trip or car – seems to be the norm at the moment. Only the unborn can be saved.


  8. merylkotin
    February 28, 2012

    I agree with Alice. The last thing anyone wants or needs is their past haunting them! I am concerned about the privacy issues with the new timeline. There is too much access and not enough security. The new timeline is invasive although I can see it being effective for brands. Being automatically switched to the timeline format certainly will make me apprehensive about having any information on my profile.


  9. Karen Linderman
    February 28, 2012

    I agree with Alice re: “Brands shouldn’t be hiding anything”. Social media was such a gift to brand building as it allows a two-way conversation with their consumers and prospects as well as a chance to lay all cards on the table. Sure you have to take the good with the bad, but if your brand is not listening to the “bad” then you are living in a bubble,

    Personal social media accounts are an entirely different beast, since most of us don’t want every little thing we do to be blasted out to the world. (i.e. Karen pinned a picture on Pinterest, Karen added a book to her likes, Karen fixed a typo in her profile.) Who cares? I don’t want to bother my friends every time I make a change to my page. I get extremely frustrated every time Facebook makes a change to their interface because what I thought was private or not being posted is all of sudden being posted. But, as Alice said, we put up with it because it is the place we need to be because every one else is there. Even though there are plenty of other social media sites to choose from-Facebook has a monopoly on social networking. I do predict at some point Facebook will cross the line with all of the changes they keep making and individuals will eventually look for other options. But for now–we don’t have much of a choice.


  10. Alice
    February 28, 2012

    Don’t get me wrong, i’m a facebook lover. However, with all these new changes, I can’t keep up with all my security settings. It just keeps changing and changing to the point that sometimes i give up and just let it be. Like you said, shouldn’t we all have the ability to secure what we want to keep private? Brands and consumers alike should be able to navigate through these social medias without the fear that the past will haunt them. However, as a brand, I dont think there should be anything you should be hiding. Each post should be a good representation of who are you to consumers across all boards.Although that concept could be applied to consumer posts as well, I feel like consumers aren’t selling themselves to anyone other than their friends/family versus the entire social media community.


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