Your Privacy & Mobile Apps…

Great coverage, as usual, in the Wall Street Journal about your smartphone apps sending information “back to the mothership” without users’ knowledge or consent. It turns out that many apps on the popular iPhone and Andriod systems have been sending all kinds of information back to the apps’ creators and/or third party marketing companies – all without user consent.

Among the items often sent – your unique phone ID and your current geographic location. Creepy stuff! This topic brings up a lot of really interesting questions about where the line is when it comes to online tracking. I’ve often said “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” when it comes to design and marketing. Trust is still an incredibly important part of any transaction or relationship. Passing personally identifiable information, without consent, is a big deal. Add to that the fact that is a lot harder, and in fact sometimes impossible, to control this access on a mobile device and you’ve got a whole lot of people who are being tracked in one way or another who have no idea it is even happening. That can’t be a good thing.

The Mobile Marketing Association is working on “comprehensive set of mobile privacy guidelines” in response to these recent revelations.

Read the full coverage at the WSJ.

Twitter Usage in the Real World

The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project released a study about Twitter usage last week and it is full of some very interesting stuff! The headline for the study on Pew’s web site is “8% of Online Americans Use Twitter”. Twitter promotes itself as having millions of users worldwide, but there has not been a lot of data available about who is using Twitter and how they are using it. It is a tool that many businesses and organizations are struggling to figure out how to use in a way that produces tangible results.

What else did the study show? A few other highlights include:

  • The biggest age demographic for Twitter use is the 18-29 bracket
  • Women are slightly more likely to use Twitter than men
  • Urban populations are the heaviest Twitter users

The most interesting finding, I think, was this:

One-quarter of Twitter users check in multiple times per day for tweets from others, while one in five never check for new material on the site…

In the follow-up questions on those October surveys, we found that Twitter users are nearly equally divided between those who check the site on a daily basis (or multiple times per day) and those who check the site infrequently or never.

The study also found that the greatest number of posts were of a personal nature.

So what does this mean for your organization? It certainly raises some questions about Twitter users. I think there has been a tendency to think of Twitter users monolithically, which does not seem to be a smart approach. This study should remind us that all channels we use to communicate with our customers require specific strategies and may also require micro-strategies to reach different target audiences or achieve different engagement goals.

I’d encourage you to check out the full report on the Pew Research Center site – here.