According to the analyst Ray Wang, of the Constellation Research Group, brands have become far too reliant on using Facebook and risk losing valuable consumer data. It is an important outcome of social media, as many brands have to make the decision of whether to throw in with Facebook and invest in a social commerce solution that changes the consumer journey altogether, or whether to continue to drive everything through to their site. Of course it’s not a case of one or the other, but there are considerations for both strategies that brands increasingly have to face. While social commerce is growing as an area of interest among marketers, there are no doubt risks associated with this that fundamentally change the way you do business.

So let’s say you decide to throw in with Facebook and interact with your consumers there more and more, not only for social commerce, but customer service, product development and more. The social benefits of this come at a price. And that price is data. The more you invest with your consumers in your Facebook Page, the more of your own data you are handing over to Facebook. Make no mistake, that this has huge implications for brands. But does it need to be a bad thing?

Data is changing

What many brands are beginning to go through is what people have been going through since we started using social technologies. At the same time that we are sharing more data, data is also becoming less private and secure. As consumers, we only have to make the decision for ourselves. Are we happy for a site to access all our photos, interests and social interaction history? The fact is that we are, as is being proven by millions of people every day. It shows that data is changing as it perhaps becomes less sacred. But when a brand is faced with this question, it becomes an entirely different issue. Handing over your own data at the risk of loss of privacy is one thing, but handing over customer data and transactions, at the risk of losing control over this data, is entirely another.

This does not mean, however, that brands have become too reliant on Facebook, while foregoing control over their own data. What it means is that the data game is changing. As uncomfortable as it may sound, there is a price that brands have to pay, in order to be able to access these social channels that allow them to reach consumers in a new way, ultimately to their own benefit. And that cost is data. Whether you like it or not, it is a fact that if you want to use social media channels for marketing, it is going to change the way you consider data and privacy within your organisation.

The challenge for brands is adjusting their thinking. When everything is opening up and becoming public, trust becomes a lot more important. So does it matter if you have to forego control of data, if instead you get a much more real relationship with your consumers, who are interacting with you online? This is not becoming too reliant on Facebook, but embracing it as the next stage of your business, not only as something inevitable but as something positive.