Navigating the Complex Web of Protecting Customer Data

In the digital age where social sharing is the norm, brands have more opportunities than ever before to reach their target audience across a wide range of media. Moreover, today, digital marketing and advertising via leveraging social media are more affordable than traditional print and TV advertising of just two decades ago.

However, this digital age isn’t all golden as there are many risks associated with the free flow of data and information. For starters, brands must be conscious of potential scandals that may befall them in instances of negligence, e.g., racist, sexist or other controversial posts. The recent H&M “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle” sweatshirt and infamous Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad scandals come to mind. Much like a positive ad or organic social media content can go viral, so too can a negative post and, more often than not, the backlash is swift and consequential with the proliferation of hashtags calling for the boycotting of your brand.

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Some scandals may even have legal ramifications and result in class action lawsuits, especially those concerning data breach or negligence in protecting customer or user data. With every happening as of late, you can’t help but think of Facebook’s ongoing privacy crisis. This alleged deliberate mishandling of millions of Facebook users’ private information caused significant losses and damages to Facebook, including devaluing their stock by a large margin almost overnight. Moreover, the crisis persists as other ramifications unfold such as its CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifying before Congress and the European Union, and the increased scrutiny and governmental regulations that have since followed.

The Facebook scandal caused thousands of companies across the world to reexamine how it is they collect customer data and ensure that they are compliant with privacy laws. While some people may assume worrying about privacy laws is reserved for industry giants like Facebook and Sony, but it is just as crucial for small businesses because you want to keep your customers’ trust.

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When done correctly, the collection of consumer data can be hugely beneficial in building a relationship with your customers and increasing your sales. That said, if the data you collect is not secure, it can be near fatal to a company’s success. In 2014, Target was hit with a significant security breach during which hackers stole the credit card information, addresses, phone numbers and more of 70 million customers. While the popular retail chain has been able to bounce back from a mishap like this, the company did have to pay nearly $20 million in a settlement agreement.

These are just a few of the reasons why it is so critical to be aware and cognizant of when you are collecting consumer information, what information you’re getting and how you are maintaining its security. While Target was able to rebuild its image thanks to decades of excellent customer service and loyalty, a small company struck with a similar scandal may not have survived. Due diligence is paramount when it comes to protecting customers’ privacy.

At EMB, we strive always to keep our clients happy, which includes ensuring they feel safe sharing information with us. Visit our Services page to learn more about our services.