Marketers love the social boom that is happening, not only because of the reach and engagement that social media sites can bring in, but because of the targeting options that they provide. Social sites are places that people go to released information about themselves to the public, making it easy for marketers to target specific demographics using this information. However, it seems that a problem has risen with all of this free public information being used, and it stems from the very use of it in general. Naturally, as the everyday internet user began to catch on to how they were being targeted, things changed.
A lot of the user information that is found on social media sites is not even true, according to recent research done by a company called Intersperience, as it was reported by BizReport.com. The company surveyed 1,000 internet users from ages 8-18, asking questions about how they protect their personal privacy on the web. A total of 22% of these users stated that they do not give out their personal information at all, but instead they use fake information. Therefore, it is safe to say that some of the targeting techniques that marketers are using on social media platforms are completely useless and irrelevant; being that it uses false information.
With the younger consumers being those that most marketers are aiming to target on social networks, the fact that almost a quarter of the users in this age group do not use real information on social media can cause some problems. In the BizReport.com article, Intersperience CEO Paul Hudson is quoted in saying,
And herein lies the conundrum. What use are half-truths to companies who tap into the wealth of personal information on social networking sites to track behavior and target products at users in real time? With Facebook and Google seeking commercial gain from access to user information a solution is needed.
Not only that, but another study performed by Professor Reynol Junco of Harvard’s Berkman Center found that these younger internet users may be throwing off the numbers regarding how much time is spend on these social media sites. Even though the average came out to about 149 minutes when students were asked how much time they spend on Facebook, actual measured numbers that came from monitored social media visits revealed that the actual average time spend on Facebook each day for students was about 26 minutes. Therefore, it seems that the younger generation has screwed up numbers regarding time spent on social media for marketers as well.
So, I suppose the moral of these results comes out saying that one must be careful when relying on information that younger internet users make available to them, because it seems that a large chunk of it is not true. Social targeting makes up a huge portion of what it is that is so valuable in social media, so the information used must be dealt with carefully.
“Businesses need to act fast to address the reasons behind why today’s connected youngsters feel compelled to create fake identities online. More must be done to address the genuine concerns they have about online tracking and targeting. “