People Will Share Anything

28 May 2010 by Randall Helms, 3 Comments »

As an example of how difficult it is for marketers to toe the line on privacy when it comes to using social media to reach out to consumers, consider the following:

A new service, Blippy … has an interesting way to take something you do everyday, buy things with your credit card, and automatically push those transactions online for others to see and interact with …

Imagine being able to see everything your friends buy with a credit card as they do it. This not only tells you what kind of things they’re actually into (rather than someone just saying they like something), but also other information like how cheap they are, as well as where they actually are at a given time. There is actually a lot of data tied into the transactions we make, and Blippy takes that and makes it social.

Some people will share anything online!

One of the things that I have found really fascinating as I have used Facebook over the last couple of years is just how much of their personal lives people are willing to share. After all, anyone who has hundreds of ‘friends’ on Facebook inevitably has many connections with people they barely know, or at least have not seen in quite a long time. It’s a very strange thing knowing about the adult love lives of people who were no more than acquaintances in High School!

Some people are quite happy to share all kinds of stuff about their lives, with little care for privacy (although in some cases they really should), which is why I suppose it is so difficult for social networking sites to calibrate their privacy policies correctly for the tastes of the userbase. There is just such a chasm between those who are completely blase and those who are more concerned about keeping more of a delineation between what is private and what is public.

Reading about Blippy brought a real smile to my face; the social media explosion is throwing out stranger and stranger mutations. On a personal level, I can’t imagine anything I would want to know less than my friends’ spending habits (and I certainly wouldn’t want them to know what I’m spending my money on!), but on a professional level I can certainly see the logic. We do, after all, live in an intensely consumerist world, where personal status is for so many people intrinsically tied up with what they buy, what they wear, and what they own. Putting this data into the public domain is an incredibly effective means of broadcasting who you really are (or at least who you want people to think you are).

On one level, it’s brilliant, and on another, completely horrifying.

What will be really fascinating to see is what marketers will be able to do with this service; the potential for customer outreach and engagement is just mind-boggling.


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  1. Tiffany says:

    Randall! This is an amazing blog! I love it – so interesting :) Hope the dissertation writing is going well…

  2. Thanks very much Tiffany! Hope all is well in Shanghai :D

  3. […] People will share anything – When people will share every aspect of their lives online, what does privacy […]

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