The Ethics of Data Privacy in Influencer Marketing

By: By Dave Dickman, CEO, Tagger Media

October 21, 2019

Influencer marketing is a multi-billion dollar powerhouse industry with no signs of slowing down on spending or efficacy.

According to a recent study, businesses and brands can see up to 11 times higher ROI with influencer marketing than other, more traditional forms of advertising. Increasingly more brands are turning to influencer marketing to grow their business, spending nearly $8 billion this year alone. And that number is only projected to increase; Business Insider recently predicted that brands are set to spend up to $15 billion on influencer marketing by 2022.

It is no surprise that companies are willing to spend if they see real results. But how can those companies be sure they are maximizing their ROI? Answer: data collection and analysis.

The strategy surrounding successful influencer marketing campaigns is dictated by accurate data collection and analysis. The use of this data can connect audiences, influencers and brands with similar interests and affinities, thereby increasing engagement and ROI.

But the collection and subsequent commodification of this data introduces an incredibly important ethical question: When and how can we accurately report this data without breaching consumer privacy?

The solution is two-fold: Practice ethical data collection and analysis, then take every measure possible to protect that data from being compromised or shared inappropriately.

Ethical data collection & analysis

It all starts with responsible data collection. Tagger, for instance, gains ethical access to users’ social media data by applying for, and being granted, API approval.

Make sure the platform you use has API approval from Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and/or other major social media channels to access data on those platforms. Some influencer marketing platforms unethically “scrape” unapproved data from social platforms. Data collection should always be approved through the various APIs based on a platform’s use case.

Why is API approval so vital to the ethical question of data collection? Because all social media users have control of their data privacy within each individual platform. Ergo, we can only collect and/or analyze the data that users choose to share.

Users should be most concerned about their data privacy when they use their social accounts to log in to third-party apps or websites. The app or website should be very clear about what data they have access to and how they are using that data to benefit the user.

Protecting user data

Once an entity has access to user information, they have a moral responsibility to protect that data. When investing in a platform, make a point to ensure they implement best-in-class data security and protection protocol.

Examples of this data protection include a web application firewall, database encryption, continuous penetration testing, continuous vulnerability scans, SOC2 audits, third-party verification and two-factor identification, to name a few.

The goal of these measures is to ensure the safety of user data is never compromised.

The ever-changing legal boundaries of data collection & analysis

There are new legal boundaries on data collection being determined by governments around the world. Though they might be extreme in some situations, the root of their intention is to protect the rights of their citizens.

In the past, a user’s data was no longer theirs once they signed on to an app, website, or platform. Today, governments have made the right decision to give ownership of that data back to the people.

I think we are going to look back in 20 years and be shocked by how little control people had of their digital data. I think people are going to be more willing to pay for platforms like Facebook and Google if it means that their data is completely private.

The bottom line: social media and influencer marketing is not going anywhere. With the increase in spending in our industry, we have to be more diligent than ever to make sure the data we are collecting is correct and harvested in an ethical manner.

As long as boundaries are drawn between brands, influencers, and their audiences, data can be utilized without violating people’s privacy.

At The Social Shake-Up