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Users must be careful about sharing data online

Social networking analytics can be useful for companies to judge the market says Teradata

Users must be careful about sharing data online
Teradata chief technology officer Steven Brobst says that social networking users must be more careful about what they share online.

Access to information and information security for the average social networking user is a concern, but users need to be far more careful about what they put online, according to Steven Brobst, chief technology officer at Teradata.

"Sometimes people don't understand how accessible the things they put on social networks are. My view is you should not put anything on social networking that you would not put on the largest billboard right outside your house. There are lots of occasions where people learn the hard way that something they put on sites like Facebook comes back to bite them," said Brobst.

There have been cases where social networking sites have been the subject of users being fired from their jobs and a case cited by Brobst, was part of a job interview.

"I was talking with someone recently who was interviewed for a job and during an interview the interviewer asked ‘Can I see your Facebook account', it is a no win situation, so she said yes and the bank person who was doing the interviewing went on the Facebook account and was looking at pictures and saying ‘You go to a lot of parties don't you'," he said.

People have to be far more aware of what they are putting out there into the public sphere. On the other hand, Brobst said, this kind of personal information is very valuable from a business point of view, to see which users like what activities or companies.

"This information is very valuable to do things like brand monitoring and product marketing, so if I introduce a new product or service, I can get immediate feedback that does not have to go through focus groups and market research, I can get that and re-adjust my course, my pricing, my market positioning almost immediately looking at that data," he added.

Many companies are not using social networking to target individuals with marketing campaigns and gaining numbers, but some are, according to Brobst.

"Recently a large airline enticed people to friend them on Facebook by telling them they would enter into a lottery for 100,000 frequent flyer points etc and then they started putting ads in offering this and that, and I know for a fact they got de-friended very quickly when those offers started escalating," he said.

There are also companies on the other end of the side that leave their marketing entirely up to fans; an example of this is Coca-Cola's presence on Facebook.

"Coca-Cola Company was recently asked about their social media presence, and they have tens of millions of fans of Coke, and what the interesting thing about this is that they did not create their Facebook page. They do not intervene, they do not use the site to give offers, it is very much that they let the fans run the site, which is a very interesting approach," said Brobst

There are a lot of good analytics that can be gathered from social networking data and the blogosphere and a lot can be done with that data, according to Brobst, but companies to be very careful when they start targeting individuals.

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