Data collection shapes brand perception: How to improve your brand's reputation

Data is undoubtedly shaping the future of business. With more than 2.5 exabytes (2.5bn gigabytes) of data being created each day, brands that fail to harness consumer data to guide customer experiences and communications are at a serious disadvantage.

Data collection must be managed in a conscious and purposeful manner. However, the data you collect from customers – and how you collect it – speaks volumes about your brand values.

Read more: Big data vs. crowdsourcing: The battle for the future

With nearly three in every four internet users owning at least one social media account, social networks have undoubtedly contributed heavily to the data avalanche we now face. Users' social identities contain valuable data around their real-time locations, relationships, media and brand preferences, and much more, making social data a treasure trove for marketers – but one that must be treated with respect.

Many of today's most successful brands capture these rich social insights in a permission-based manner through third party applications. By giving users the option to log in to their site or app using their existing social media accounts, brands can request access to specific social data points in return.

EU court reforms on 'the right to be forgotten', are set to redefine privacy rules online, highlighting the importance of both permission and trust in the virtual data handshake. Below are four essential tips to help refine your permission-based social data strategy and build a reputation as a trustworthy, customer-centric brand:

Read more: EU has made a mess of the "right to be forgotten" and is now blaming Google

Be selective

Reject the outdated and careless notion of simply enabling as many permissions as possible and sorting through the data later. Customers always have the right to ask, "Why do you want to know?" And the more times they have to ask that question, the less likely you are to earn their patronage.

Be purposeful

All requested data points should relate back to a larger marketing strategy. Each collected permission should serve the purpose of creating a better user experience, and ultimately deliver value back to the customer in the form of more relevant content and more engaging visits. Let consumers know the benefits of sharing particular data upfront.

Be transparent

When logging in socially, customers will be able to see a plain-language disclosure of all of the permissions you require. Maintain this level of transparency by giving users a designated page where they can review and edit the data they have agreed to share at any time.

Be patient

Consumer trust is earned over time. The richest sources of data often appear after the initial signup, when customers begin directly sharing their views and insights with your brand in the form of comments, ratings and reviews. Avoid asking for too many data points up front and take plenty of opportunities to gain additional permissions and insights into your user experience.

Brian Sullivan is the senior vice president of Client Services at GigyaPorthole Ad