According to research conducted in 2016 by the web site ProPublica, Facebook has over 29,000+ points of data on each user of their services. This not only includes your preferences, groups, interests and contact information but it also includes which posts you interact with, which businesses/organizations you follow or like, and how you interact with them. Much of this came to light with the Cambridge Analytica scandal a couple of years ago.
It’s a safe bet then to say that as much info as Facebook has on your account, Google has more. In fact they have a lot more as they offer heavily used services that Facebook doesn’t such as full internet searches, maps, YouTube, Calendars and office apps. All of this is an inevitability of these “freemium” services which we have so willingly taken into our lives. There is a trade off for all of the development and usefulness these sites and services provide and like it or not this is a fact of our digital life. The question then is”are you putting this data to work for your business or not”?
Both Google and Facebook do have privacy settings within various app locations which allow you to customize some of what each site can track on you and what they cannot. Each one of their adjacent apps or web sites likewise have privacy controls. However, even if users turn most browsing tracking off, there are items or behaviours which both services track since they have been given the right to do so by their respective terms of service. So even if you turn off nearly everything, Facebook and Google can track some behaviours or just guess based on the history they have on you and on others. This is their business of course but you can put it to work for you instead of shutting it down.
Part of the analytics of both services go to customize ads on Facebook and Google to your audiences. So when you advertise you are benefiting from tremendous amounts of data which is used to build a profile on your behaviour as well as those using the Google or Facebook services around you. Especially in Google’s case, these analytics that they gather happen whether you unconsciously use their services or not. So browsing someone’s web site that has nothing to do with Google can result in Google tracking you if that site has enabled Google’s free “analytics” service.
This is, in fact, what Google or Facebook offers to your business when you place ads on their sites. Though they go about it in slightly different ways, you will benefit from the extensive profiling of your current and potential customers that these services capture. This is true even if yu prefer to be off the grid or trying different services to avoid being tracked. Running an ad is the best way to gain access to these services, but here are other things you can do to be “more attractive” to Google’s and Facebook’s tracking techniques.
Contact Info: The first thing your business can do is make sure your contact information is up to date. This applies whether you have a web site or not as you can create Facebook Pages and Google My Business Pages as well as LinkedIn Company Pages and Twitter accounts. The idea then is to make it easy to be found. This in turn starts Google or Facebook “robots” looking for you online with the intent to catalog you and your business.
Keywords: Keywords are one of those internet concepts which is probably the hardest to understand for the average business owner. Keywords are a key component of our Search Engine Optimization (SEO) work. They revolve around the concept that every thing on every internet page needs, and should have, a description. This helps out so many other types of software and drives the matching of so many data points. Keywords are attached, or should be, to pictures, articles, web pages and posts of all types. If done correctly, SEO can become an integral part of Google or Facebook’s online system and its ability to learn and know you better.
Regular Posting Activity: Finally, when talking about how to take advantage of the demographic information Google and Facebook have on yoru audience, consider making your business known online in the same ways that you mkae yoru business known in the real world, through activity. Even if you don’t have a web site, and don’t really need much of one, consider finding an outlet to get your company name out there and generate looks and eyeballs. Google My Busines posts, Facebook Page posts, Tweets, posting on neighborhood sites or community boards. Sponsor an event, support a charity, or any other way to get your busienss name in teh spotlight legally.
Clearly ads take the most advantage of all the data these online services have built on your customers. However, there are things you can do to increase your visibility and get customers to know you or interact with you. Eventually you should consider ads and our lead connection service can help. When you do, we can work together to harness the true audience you are looking for who wlll buy yoru product or service. If you have done the work above though, getting your business ready for that audience will be so much smoother. Then a few of those data points will read, “customer of your company”.