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Is Facebook the new Marketing Electoral Register?

Marketing Electoral Register

The Electoral Register is the Marketing List for the UK, and boy do we like an election in the UK.  We’ve had three in the past few years, with one common thread, the data has been so open to interpretation not even Nate Silver and the clever folk at fivethirtyeight can call the result.

Our marketing automation software helps clients to grow their business through data driven marketing. It’s this type of data driven marketing that helped Obama rise to power, but also Trump, and probably May (but enough of that). As the name suggests data driven marketing is only as good as the data you have available to you. As a result for a new business or to support growth finding the right source to generate new business can be a real challenge.

 

Relevant Data

If you have a marketing ‘list’ then you are a direct marketer. The challenge for any direct marketer is the validity and relevance of the data that they hold about their target audience. The ‘quality’ of the data held by any business can make a huge impact on the performance on that business and the potential of that business to grow. To get the value from the information that they collect.

 

Electoral Register

The marketing list for the UK is the Electoral Register. – it is the basis for every election and it’s how votes are issued. Legally if you’ve been asked to register on the Electoral Roll, you have to register (or face a fine of £80). This data is used within Government and shared with credit agencies. As part of registration your information is also included in an edited ‘open’ register of the Electoral Roll – at the moment you are automatically opted into the ‘open’ register unless you opt out of this.

 

The UK Marketing Electoral Register

The edited data within the Electoral Register aka the Marketing Electoral Register is available for sale to anyone that wishes to purchase it. This data is one of the cornerstones of most data businesses such as Expedian or Dun and Bradstreet – who will mix this data with other information such as MOSAIC and geo-demographic data to allow you to select prospects for your business.

Before the rise of Social Media, the ‘open’ register was the possibly the only commercial source of selecting, accessing and getting an understanding of who was who and lived where.

A lot has changed.

 

The Rise of Social Media

Today, most of the biggest businesses in the world are data businesses. Take Facebook. Facebook is not a social media business. Facebook is a data business that provides a social media platform – in fact I’d suggest that now that the focus for Facebook and Twitter seems to be selling advertising they are also both now media channels. Media channels that are fueled by the updates and content of millions of users.

 

Using Social Media Logins

A lot of marketing people are trying to harness the power of the data collected by social media.

For example, providing the option for social media login to accounts. If the ‘user’ selects that option and agrees to share their information, then it makes sure that the profile information for each ‘opted-in’ user is updated through to the business providing the login. This is a great way of giving the business up to date relevant information about their customers without having to run surveys or competitions.

It is brilliant – happy customers engaged and willing to share information. However, it can have a big impact when the rules change. Facebook recently changed policy on a sharing API. If you’ve built a business based on this information, then you have a big problem. As a result, quite a few businesses had to close.

 

Structuring Social Media

In other cases, a lot of businesses are trying to find the signal in the noise. They are focusing on the chaos of the data streams flowing through the Social Media. Given the complete randomness of communications within social media – that is going to take some doing.

I have heard the stories that Facebook can predict if you are going to marry someone based on five interactions – but that isn’t a commercial driver for them yet. It’s the structure of each Facebook account that is the real commercial driver for Facebook. As it is this structure that provides the selection criteria for Facebook advertising.

 

Is Social Profile the New Electoral Register?

The majority of the UK are active on Facebook, as a result they keep their profile updated. This is the information is probably the most updated of any ‘available’ documented.

Everyone knows someone who is ‘attached’ to social media – probably more than one in most cases. In the case of Facebook users, this information provides a rolling update of peoples opinion, location and profile status (in a relationship with…). For the current generation, Facebook is a key platform of communication between peers and it most likely to be the best reflection of the status of someone at anytime.

I’d suggest for this generation Facebook is the new Electoral Register.

 

Is Social Profile the New Electoral Register?

If Facebook is the new Electoral Register, then this is a perhaps a bit scary. After all in Direct Marketing terms, Facebook is the biggest register of people ever created. This is data that is owned and controlled by a corporate entity for commercial activity. This gives Facebook a huge amount of power.

The most scary thing is that I believe that the majority of people that are ‘engaged’ do not realise what they are ‘giving’ away. Perhaps that is the price of ‘free access’?

The UK Editoral Register was in a similar position before the ‘opt-out’ was added in 2004. The driver for change at that time was junk mail and cold calling.

As I have written before, changes are coming to data protection, this time the theme is transparency of your how personal data will be used. Once these changes are confirmed, then I expect a period of major distruption before another cycle of progress begins.

In the meantime, if you are looking for structured data to grow testing, then possibly the best option available is Facebook advertising.