By nickjohnson - April 6th, 2013

Altimeter Group have just released new research suggesting that 51% of customers do not want companies ‘eavesdropping’ on their conversations.

This in itself presents a looming problem. The potential of big data, and of better social monitoring, is well understood. It’s a fantastic way for large companies to get closer to consumers, learn more about them and align better with them - in a way that was impossible previously. 42% of companies in the Altimeter report have said that an extension of this monitoring is a key priority in 2013.

And yet 43% of consumers believe this would constitute an intrustion of privacy.

It’s an example of one of the (many) fine balances that the social media director is responsible for (the others focusing on centralised vs decentralised internal organisation, local vs global messaging, integrated versus standalone campaigns).

Not only do customers exhibit considerable wariness at your listening in on their conversations - they also don’t want you getting in touch proactively.

64% expect that a company should only get in touch with them in response to queries or comments. This will come as a blow to the many companies (specifically in Pharma) who feel that proactive communication is essential. If you work for a Pharma company and see someone talking about your drug not working on Facebook, yet also showing they’re not taking it in the right way, you’d want to get involved, right?

There’s more on the findings from this Altimeter/JD Power study over at Forbes. And if you’re a social media director struggling with this issue, then we have several discussions covering the topic at the Corporate Social Media Summit in New York.

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