Even after all the publicity surrounding Facebook’s selling of the personal data of 87 million users to Cambridge Analytica, a Reuters/Ipsos survey has found that most users are still loyal to the social media giant.
Just A Public Relations Problem
The survey conducted April 26-30 was based in the US, the home country of Facebook and the place where the vast majority of those whose data was sold live. Far from indicating that any users have been outraged by the selling of their personal data property without their permission, the survey appears to show that Facebook has so far suffered no ill effects from the scandal, other than a public relations headache.
A Quarter Using Facebook More!
The survey showed that half of US Facebook users said they had not recently changed the amount that they used the site, and, incredibly, a quarter of those surveyed said they were using it more!
The remaining 25% said that they were using it less recently, had stopped using it, or deleted their account.
64% of those surveyed said they still used Facebook at least once a day, down only slightly from the 68% recorded in a similar poll in late March.
The results appear to show, therefore, that the numbers of those using Facebook more has balanced out the numbers of any respondents who said they used the platform less, meaning that, according to the survey, Facebook appears to have suffered no real damage other than a PR hit from the scandal.
Wait Until 2nd Quarter
Facebook actually showed a near 50% increase its sales in the first quarter of this year, with profits up to $4.9bn from $3bn last year. Some commentators have stressed, however, that any of the financial effects of the scandal are likely to be evident in the second quarter.
Cambridge Analytica Closed
While Facebook, a social media giant, appears to have suffered no real damage other than a PR hit, Cambridge Analytica has been forced to go into liquidation blaming negative media attention. Some commentators have pointed out that Cambridge Analytica portrayed themselves as victims of unwarranted press activity, thereby deflecting blame from their activities involving the use of the personal data of millions to influence election and referendum outcomes.
Trusted With Dating Information?
It may appear that customer loyalty is still intact to a large extent now, but the next test for Facebook could be whether customers will trust them with their privacy when Facebook rolls out its dating service app later this year.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
This story shows what many tech commentators had predicted – that the fact that Facebook was so much a part of peoples’ daily routine with no real alternative among the other social media platforms, that it could weather the storm and come out the other end with little real impact on its user numbers. It seems strange that, even though customers personal details were harvested and sold to a third party, without the permission of users, and then used to potentially influence how they voted in the US election (and in the Brexit referendum in the UK) that very few people appear to be prepared to see that as grounds to reject Facebook and the service and value that it offers in their lives.
People actively use Facebook as an integral part of their friendship networks and as a source of news, thereby allowing it unprecedented access to their personal lives and interests, as well as allowing it to help shape their view of the world, and it may be this investment and yes, loyalty, that has allowed them to apparently forgive Facebook for its part in the scandal, and to allow the value that Facebook offers in their lives to outweigh Facebook’s indiscretions.
From a business point of view, this shows how powerful loyalty can be, especially if a service can offer value that links strongly to ‘self’ and things that have emotional and personal connections and importance, and allow and enable real engagement.