At least, I am if you believe the age on my Facebook page.
January 1, 1960 is not my birthday. And I’m glad to say I’m not quite that old. But I am old enough to not be completely comfortable letting it all hang out online. I fall somewhere between the older generation that won’t use a credit card online because “the whole inter-tubes thing isn’t safe” and the younger generation that thinks nothing of documenting their lives online moment by moment.
Two issues highlighted here (beyond the popular carnival midway game, “How old is Andrew?”):
- Balancing a desire to learn more about your audience with their privacy concerns
- Addressing those privacy concerns
Sign -Up Forms and Subscriptions
I wasn’t terribly interested in Facebook on a personal level when I first signed up. It was starting to get a lot of play in tech media, and I felt I needed to know more about it from a professional standpoint. Had I not been that motivated, I never would have joined if they had required my birthday and other personal info. (To be fair, I don’t think your birthday is required now, and I can’t say for sure if it was back then.)
That’s something to bear in mind as you ask people for information when they sign up for your newsletter or to receive a white paper or whatever it is you to do attract an audience. The more info you ask for, the more people who abandon the process.
And unless you have a very clear idea for how you will use the demographic data you gather, there’s a very good chance it will sit in a database doing nothing for you. (Data is not information, but that’s another post …) So you’ve lost a segment of your audience for no reason.
Along with not hurting yourself by asking for too much information, you should also be sensitive to people’s concerns about privacy if you want to make it easy for them to make the leap of sharing it with you.
- Use secure hosting technology where necessary
- And have clearly defined rules for how your employees handle personal data