It’s Not Just About Privacy, Millennials Want Trust

Historically, information has been used to keep records of citizens, patrons, customers, employees and more. As the times evolved, this information was used to maximize opportunity, improve experiences and simply, use the information to gain any advantage possible. But as everything else evolved, methods of gathering information followed suit.

Collecting information seems like a harmless act. We’ve decided to give it to them, so they have the absolute ability and authority to use it. It’s been in the small print since the earliest days of the internet amongst other technological innovations over the last two decades. And we’ve accepted most of it without question. Even disregarding George Orwell’s concerns from 70 years earlier.

Knowingly and unknowingly, we’ve given up privacy over the years simply by surfing the web. What’s fascinating with this is the growth of social networking sites and our understanding that we’re giving up privacy for the sake of it’s use. 85% of Millennials understand that by participating in social media, they’re giving up part of their privacy. Further, 81% said their social profiles are but only a snapshot of who they really are.

Seems like a perfect trade off, doesn’t it? Alright, so we’ve all signed the “deal with the devil”, since we want to use it but we’re not saying everything about ourselves. And many Millennials have accepted this. Even with mass privacy concerns in the social media environment, users have hardly been deterred from it as a result of privacy concerns. And Facebook would be the perfect example of this. How many Millennials, how many of you have stopped using it because of its extreme privacy issues? Not many. Nothing notable to talk about out of it’s 500 million plus users.

Of course we understand, especially with social media, what we put up will be viewed by others, even by those on the back-end. It’s often been said that our lack-of-concern has made many Millennials unwary of the impact our incredible online use can have for each Millennial’s personal image. Trust me, we understand this. Some of us even want to be found.

Millennials are very willing to accept the “terms of use” in everything we sign up for. From the apps on our smart phones to the many sites we frequent, we understand our actions are monitored. Sadly, we accept it for the sake of use. But at the same time, we hope, we trust that the information that is taken from us about us will be used accordingly.

For many of us, the ideas of privacy and trust running synonymously together. However, mistakenly, we often assume one in the same for both ideas. Merriam-Webster defines them as the following:

Privacy (noun): the quality or state of being apart from company or observation. Freedom from unauthorized intrusion.

Trust (noun) – assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something. One in which confidence is placed.

There clearly is two defining distinctions. And though the notions of privacy and trust do run hand it hand, Millennials belief in trading a little privacy does not coincide with them trusting the same environments.

Of those aged 18-29 years olds, 79% “never” trust  social networking sites or only trust them “some of the time”. And even though Millennials are highest amongst all users who alter their privacy settings to be more private, there’s an unmistakeable want for a sense of trust of their privacy. We want control of what we put online. And we don’t want our permissions to be dragged in to other unknown areas. But then again it’s easier for everyone to be “tricked” into participating in something unknowingly, since many users, customers, people never “opt-out” of anything. Imagine how useless things would be if you had to “opt-in”. No one would.

A distorted understanding of users-based permissions, of which are in the small print, will cause a negative-trend amongst all users. 70% of all consumers who “liked” a Facebook fan page feel they didn’t give that company permission to market to them. Getting permission from Millennials is imperative. The worst thing you can do is spam a Millennial. It’s not only useless, but it gives us something to hold against you. And trust, we’ll remember. And tweet about it. And start a Facebook page about it. It’s not good for company PR. Since 44% of us have used social media to both rant and rave about brands, companies and products. How about giving us something to “rave” about instead.

What’s interesting about all this, it’s having profound effects on Millennials in the offline world. Millennials trust offline marketing pitches 3 to 1 more than those online. Makes you wonder why there is such an emphasis in online and social media marketing if we don’t trust you. Even though we’re willing to give up some of our privacy, we’re not willing to give up our trust.

The result of this has created Facebook spin-offs like CollegeOnly, where only those in actual colleges are allowed to be users on the site. Investors are not even granted user access. Talk about privacy, trust and a Millennial orientated social networking site.

It seems that even though we’ve given up levels of our privacy, any distrust in our relationship will cause Millennials to react. As issues of privacy have become a growing case, especially with the likes of Facebook – pun intended – Millennials will ultimately not trust the online world or even social media for that matter.  So what does this mean to you? It means that you shouldn’t betray us. We’ve given you our privacy but we won’t as willingly hand you our trust. That’s something you will have to earn.

(Photo credit)

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