Cool or Uncool? Consumers Weigh in on Social Media Behavior

January 15, 2014

This article is included in these additional categories:

Digital | Privacy & Security | Social Media

McCann-Acceptable-Social-Media-Behavior-Jan2014The latest truth study from McCann Worldgroup – “Truth About Privacy” – contains some interesting data concerning the types of online sharing behaviors and privacy practices that are considered acceptable (or not) by adults. Brands ought to be wary of overstepping boundaries: two-thirds of respondents feel that a brand’s use of their content on its social media site without permission is “uncool.” Also uncool? Brands calling with automated personalized messages, according to 57% of respondents.

Essentially, the results pertain to finding the “required balance between privacy and publicity.” Respondents consider Google and Facebook to be the most threatening companies, not surprising given the vast amounts of data they collect and – particularly with respect to Facebook – the public ways in which they can use the data. Conversely, respondents continue to trust banks the most with their sensitive personal information, likely because they don’t see the same looming prospect of those institutions making their data publicly available.

As for oversharing in the context of social media, the survey results indicate that:

  • 77% of respondents over the age of 35 feel that frequent posting of “selfies” on Instagram is uncool;
  • Just 1 in 3 believe that posting routine activities on Facebook is cool;
  • 64% feel that the “less personal approach” of frequently posting silly or funny articles on Facebook is cool;
  • Only 35% consider the practice of frequently “checking in” a location on Foursquare to be cool;
  • More than 6 in 10 think that having a personal style blog chronicling daily outfits is uncool;
  • More than 7 in 10 believe that adding people they don’t know as LinkedIn connections is uncool, as is adding people they don’t know as Facebook friends; and
  • 63% believe that defriending people who are not “real” friends on Facebook is cool.

According to McCann, the “pendulum is swinging in the direction of more privacy.” The researchers note that this might be underpinning a shift in preferences among teenagers from Facebook to Snapchat, with various media outlets (such as this one) reporting that Mark Zuckerberg called Snapchat a “privacy phenomenon.”

About the Data: McCann conducted an online quantitative study conducted in the U.S.-only among a nationally representative sample of 1,100 adult consumers aged 18+.

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