For many consumers in the UK, social media is an integral part of every day life from checking Facebook in the morning to sharing experiences and updates throughout the day on a variety of social networks. Although some security concerns are always a concern for some consumers when using social networks, the majority of consumers, nearly two thirds of UK internet users will be on social networks in 2014. This is a substantial number, indicating the ongoing growth in social. However, recent studies now indicate that for social media users, the fear of being watched on social networks and worries about how information is being tracked on social media sites is still very much at the forefront of people’s mind (eMarketer 2013).
When looking more closely at the exact concerns that consumers have when thinking about social networking, monitoring and how their information is being collected, 63% of female UK consumers were concerned in comparison to 56% of male UK consumers. There is also a difference between consumers aged between 18-24 and older generations aged 65+. Interestingly, the younger UK consumers aged 18-24 are a lot less concerned about social media monitoring. Interestingly, the generation 25-34 and 65+ were most concerned and worried about being monitored on social media. Although, being active on social media does not necessarily mean that these consumers will be monitored closely and information is being collected about them, but as social media is public, all information being distributed should be information consumers are willing to share with the social sphere.
Due to social media’s importance in digital, it is no surprise that most companies conducting market research are using social media monitoring as a way to understand consumers in digital better. Social media was mentioned by the majority of digital marketing professionals as one of the key tools to conduct market research. Due to social media’s hype, it is of particular interest for brands to understand consumers’ behaviour on social networks in relation to brands and also in general. A number of market research tools have been developed for the social sphere and digital marketers are fascinated by the opportunity of analysing and researching consumer behaviour. However, for the consumers this also raises concerns and might be worrying for some consumers in the UK with regards to how their information is being monitored and how information is tracked on social networks.
For marketers, this more concerned perspective on social media is something that can easily be forgotten and that most digital marketers might not consider as impacting their activities. However, in the long run, this is certainly something tourism businesses and destinations need to be aware of and monitor closely, as security concerns and the fear of being watched on social media can influence the way in which consumers behave.
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