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Are Social Media Networks selling out their Customers?

Social media began as a tool for people to connect with one another across the globe and from the onset LinkedIn – one of the more “serious” social media platforms was proclaimed as a great business networking tool for individuals. It seemed a win / win for everyone.

It was a platform on which one could showcase personal professional expertise and connect with others in common industries or with common interests. For the jobseeker it became essential to have an up to date LinkedIn profile and to keep connected. For recruiters and businesses it was a way to find out more about potential recruits and increase their network of business contacts.

However, today LinkedIn has become far more valuable as evidenced by Microsoft’s recent buyout of the network. Even more interesting is that Salesforce lost the bid to purchase it, much to their regret. The reason that both these CRM companies wanted LinkedIn? The value lies not only in the database of members, but in their networks. How people are connected and common interests has become valuable CRM data. The problem is, where does this leave the LinkedIn member?

The cost to the consumer

While the value may have increased for businesses, for the members it’s a different story. Gone are the days of privacy. Details are captured on a system have become “owned” – a commodity to be traded and used for marketing purposes. Nice for businesses using them but not so great for the members whose details and connections are now being traded. The question is; do the benefits of using LinkedIn outweigh the cost of being sold out to a CRM system? Has this left consumers feeling undervalued especially in terms of personal relationships?  And in the process is the actual benefit to members being lost?

In the case of Microsoft’s buyout of LinkedIn “Innocent members of LinkedIn are now part of a massive Microsoft Dynamics CRM database.” Has the battle between Microsoft and Salesforce to have the largest CRM database been to the detriment of members? Has what started out as a tool for their benefit, now become something that is holding members hostage? Because if you think about it, LinkedIn users didn’t sign up to be part of any CRM database, they signed up for an opportunity to network with their peers.

The value of consumer relationships

While the argument may be that nothing is for free and that it has become a normal business practice to trade customer data, businesses need to be aware that most customers do not like being traded like a commodity. Increasingly research shows that users or consumers want authentic personal relationships.  They do not want to be data or a just another number and they certainly do not want to be on the receiving end of endless marketing fodder, no matter how targeted it is. (Increasingly the trend is for ad blocking apps and tools).

If companies are going to acquire all this data and they want to keep the faith of the members on that database, then they need to use it in a way that is meaningful to members and consumers by offering them something of value in return. It can’t always be about business, because when consumer’s needs are overlooked, the gains are often short lived.

Resource On Demand is Europe’s first specialist Salesforce Recruitment Company. We assist the world’s leading organisations to grow their technology teams. Supporting companies to fill roles that span across digital marketing, marketing automation, Human Capital Management, CRM system management and, Salesforce developer, Salesforce consultant and Salesforce admin jobs.

The team at Resource On Demand have access to an extensive database of key talent, registering over 8000 professionals each year. To find out how we can support you call us on +44 20 8123 7769 or rod@resourceondemand.com.