Social media – Privacy No Longer The Norm

Coming a bit late to this – although I have used it as a platform for my opinions on the validity of ‘the conversation’ (in summary, ‘the conversation’ is just another pair of Imperial undercrackers) – but, for clarity, this is Mark Zuckerberg’s much-vaunted assertion that: “People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people. That social norm is just something that has evolved over time.”

My personal take on this remains that simply because anyone with internet access (59% in the UK) has the opportunity to post to social media, this doesn’t mean that they’ve also been magically granted the capability to do so. There is – and I’m working on the laws of probability here – a vast swathe of users out there who simply do not understand what they are doing and have no concept of the implications of posting personal details on a free-to-access web portal.

Some people have ‘gotten comfortable’, others are neither comfortable with, or uncomfortable about, sharing information openly and with more people. Many, I’d wager, have yet to grasp that when you stick something on the net, anyone can see it and – possibly worse – there are all sorts of organisations, agencies and groups who are actively looking for it. So-called privacy controls on social media sites are, currently, no more than lip-service – not obvious, not understood, not used.

Anyway, that’s me – and here’s a post from a gentleman by the name of Ed Hartigan. The post sort of reiterates what I’m saying but, all credit to Mr Hartigan, he takes it a bit further. What is genuinely interesting, however, is his reference to VRM (Vendor Relationship Management for those few of my blog snorkellers who didn’t already know) which I’d not come across – as a specific discipline – before. Obviously, I’d given thought to some of the suite of VRM tools before, from a consumer’s point of view, but I’d not seen it as a specialism in its own right.

It’s interesting because it’s wholly the product of business’ inability to behave ethically and the consumer’s inability to deny themselves or consider the implications of their actions. VRM exists to combat CRM – which, after all and despite what its name implies, is a sales tool, wholly reliant on being able to prise a potential customer’s personal details out of them.

Strange, isn’t it, that in this age of social – which, let’s not forget, is all about openness and transparency and the conversation – where it’s all down to individual relationships and contracts – where brands have to humanise – that VRM mechanisms need to be put into place to protect consumers from rapacious brands that, given half the chance, will spam them out of existence.

But what really pisses me off is that because business cannot stop being business, and no matter what it says, will continue to try to use social media to turn a profit; and because Percival D Consumer cannot stop being a turkey and spilling his life history at the drop of a freebie, we, the sane minority, will have to start dealing with yet another new-consultant-on-the-block.

Social media gurus, meet the Vendor Relationship Managers. I hope you’ll be very happy together.

3 thoughts on “Social media – Privacy No Longer The Norm

  1. Well, VRM is really not a mechanism… and the idea of Vendor Relationship Managers makes me shudder.

    There is a lot more to it. Here is a VRM one-pager: and here’s a VRM paper, for the long winter nights:

    Already fed up with being a social media guru, I met VRM about 3 or so years ago. Among other VRM escapades, I set up VRM Hub ( in London that Ed references in his post. and I look forward to meeting him and others at one of our monthly gatherings.

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