Why Is Privacy Important in Social Media?

Christy Walters


February 7, 2022 (Updated: May 4, 2023)

According to a recent Verizon survey, 49% of people are more concerned about their privacy on social media in 2022 than the year before. But why is privacy important in social media, anyway? Businesses want their audiences to feel confident that it’s safe to share their personal information on different marketing channels. This is much easier to promise when you’re using your own website or eCommerce store, run by your employees or a trusted contractor. But how can you provide that security when you’re encouraging people to share content on third-party services like social media? We’re answering this question today with topics like:

What Is Data Privacy?

Data privacy, also known as information privacy, is an area of data protection concerned with handling sensitive, personal, and confidential data responsibly. You’re probably familiar with this general discipline. It’s the reason you have a privacy policy on your website. And it’s why you provide a little pop-up to tell people you’re tracking their cookies. It’s a courtesy, and in some places a legal requirement, to tell people what you do with their data after you collect it.

But when you’re on social media and encouraging your audience to spend time there, too, the focus shifts. Now, protecting their data isn’t up to you. But if somebody interacts with your LinkedIn post and then gets hacked, it doesn’t matter to them much who’s at fault. You’re still associated with that hack, spam, or any other shady practice that happens on your social media profiles. Your audience thinks, “I’m trusting you with my personal information, so how are you going to make sure that someone else who I don’t trust won’t get it?”

Related: Should You Stop Using Google Chrome?

Why Should Marketers Care About Data Privacy on Social Media?

dodger from Oliver and Company singing why should I worry about privacy in social media

Image via WiffleGif

Like Dodger from Oliver & Company, you may wonder, as a content creator, what does social media data privacy have to do with you? Do you use social media as a marketing tool? Your profiles are an extension of your company. You work hard to keep interactions on brand, with the right voice and aesthetics. Crafting that persona and building that trust with your audience takes a lot of time. But one hack or data breach on a third-party platform and poof. It’s destroyed your hard work in minutes.

No matter whose fault it is, that feeling of betrayal and mistrust reflects on your company and content. You don’t want people to think twice before they click on your posts or links. You want them to know it’s safe to share their information with you on any channel. All your channels share your name, logo, and brand voice, so the validity of one directly affects the others. Data privacy matters anywhere you have an online presence, from social media to your website.

Related: Companies Must Tell Customers What They Are Doing with Their Data

How Common Are Social Media Hacks?

You may think if you change your passwords often, block or report spammy accounts, and follow social media best practices that you’re less likely to be a hacking target. But according to the Verizon survey, half of the respondents said imposters impersonated their personal or business accounts with fake ones. And 58% of responders said someone hacked or attempted to hack their accounts in the past year. How are you supposed to combat that?

We’d love to tell you it’s easy, but for every good person out there on the internet, there’s a bad one waiting to make their move. The best way to combat fake accounts is through vigilance. Practice social listening to see when mentions of your brand appear online. Alert your followers if you notice something suspicious, and ask them to report any fake accounts they find to your team and to the social media company. You can also work to get verified on social media platforms to make your accounts even more official and trustworthy for your audience.

3 Tips To Help Your Audience Feel Secure Using Your Online Channels

Though preventing hacks may be like trying to predict the future, there are some steps you can take to ensure your audience knows you’re doing everything possible to protect their privacy on your social channels. Use these tips to help your audience feel most secure about sharing their information with you online:

1. Point Back To Your Main Website

Whether you’re sharing content or trying to get people to purchase your products, link those big conversions back to your main, self-run website or eCommerce store. Even if you use social platform features like Instagram’s marketplace to make sales, not everyone may feel comfortable sharing their credit card information on the app. Offering multiple conversion options helps as many people as possible feel comfortable with their transactions. You know what that means. More sales for you!

2. Be Transparent

If you’re collecting personal information from your audience, tell them why. Whether you make it known through posts, form directions, or on your website privacy policy, transparency helps people feel more confident that their data won’t fall into the wrong hands. On social media, you can also direct people to the platform’s privacy policy to share how and why that third party may collect data submissions from users.

If you are the target of a hack, impersonation, or data breach, be sure to alert your audience of that too. Explain what happened, let them know who’s affected, and tell them how you’re fixing it. Being honest and transparent about an issue can help you keep more followers through a trying time than a coverup.

3. Stay Vigilant

The best way to protect your audience’s data on social media is to prevent hacks and breaches in the first place. We already said this is tricky, but it’s not impossible. While you may not be able to prevent all attempted attacks, you can cut them off before completion by monitoring your accounts consistently. Consider options like:

  • Creating an informed social media policy for your team that encourages best practices on personal and business accounts
  • Watching your inbox for suspicious direct messages (DMs) and deleting or reporting them where necessary
  • Avoiding clicking on links from unknown or untrustworthy sources on social media
  • Updating your passwords regularly
  • Enabling two-factor or multi-factor authentication to log into your social media accounts
  • Keeping the number of people with access to your company’s social media accounts to a minimum

Ensuring that you can keep your audience’s data secure on social media and all your online channels helps with audience retention and building trust in your brand.

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Christy Walters

CopyPress writer

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