Privacy considerations in mobile app development for real estate

Real estate mobile app developers, and the brokerages that deploy these apps, will gain a competitive advantage and consumer trust by adopting privacy aware best practices in their app development processes. As I detail here discussing a recent guidance document published by the California Attorney General, state and federal regulatory oversight will continue to increase with respect to privacy issues in mobile apps. Thus, brands that incorporate privacy best practices will more easily pass regulatory muster going forward. Similarly, as consumers become more aware as to how their personally identifiable information (PII) is shared, leased, and sold, they will trust brands that make privacy controls a priority, easily accessible, and understandable within mobile apps.

Photo credit: codepo8

Viral is Dead, Let it Spread Instead

Real estate firms that are thinking about implementing social media marketing strategies should pay attention to Charlene Li‘s predictions. Li’s series of five interviews paint a road map of the social media future firms ought to be considering today:

melded identities


social algorithms (see also my earlier post on trust indicators in social networks)

open platforms

privacy and permissions

organizational trust

Her thinking mirrors that of Henry Jenkins, Director of the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program, who essentially argues in his white paper “If it doesn’t spread, it’s dead” that marketers need to shed the terms “viral” and “memes” and adopt “spreadability” as a benchmark.

What Jenkins points out, and Li implicitly endorses, is that humans are not passive hosts that propagate marketing messages. Rather, humans take an active roll in transferring and transforming marketing messages. Thus, marketers need to rethink their approaches to conceiving of, executing on, and managing marketing campaigns by migrating away from command and control modalities to adopting more of a marketing midwifery role.

I think that Li’s and Jenkins’ thoughts also pertain to CRM definitions. Let’s shed the agri-centric CRM labels like “cultivate,” “nurture,” and “harvest” for terms that recognize a consumer’s role in allowing themselves to become part of a CRM system, rather than passive victims of that system. Terms like “engagement,” “conversation,” and “partner” align with Li’s and Jenkins’ sentiments, seem more respectful of an individual’s role in a CRM system, and are reflective of the fact that consumers are active participants in a firm’s “relationship management” processes. And assuming that a firm’s client services division performs at high levels of consumer satisfaction, this ethos shift also has the potential to empower “engaged” consumers to spread the word of a firm’s client services successes (much like Li relates in her Comcast example in the above “organizational trust” interview).

Google personalized search

Ever wonder why anyone tries to “out-game” Google? I’ve always argued it’s futile to try and out-think hundreds of PhDs working in a university atmosphere where they have relatively free-reign to explore their research-oriented whims, and where they’re all pretty much singularly focused on studying one thing: us. Oh, and they likely get paid extremely well for what they do.

A question I have after watching the video below: How can anyone “out-game” this? Which likely also supports Google’s universal search platform. That is, it’s not a stretch to assume that Google employs insights derived from the user base that’s signed up for Google’s personalized search service to refine the primary algorithm(s) used by Google’s general audience to deliver more and more “relevant” results to this general audience.

Accordingly, when it comes to SEO I always advise taking the “high road” and write original content, update your site(s) frequently with this original content, build relevant in-bound links over time, create an easy to navigate (and spider) website, and focus on your niche expertise.

Phishing and Social Media

The semantic nature of social networking has hit, head-first, the issue of phishing. A research paper by Peter Mika, discusses the semantic and colloquial nature of social networks, the findings of which offer savvy marketers unprecedented opportunities to understand how to incorporate social network folksonomies into their brand strategies. Yet this fundamental tenet–i.e., semantic relationships–that underpins social networks is vulnerable to phishing. Indiana University follows this phishing expedition via this website, which also has this great slide presentation.

Indeed, on Facebook I’ve been poked by phishing’s less sophisticated step-cousin, spam. Spam can occur in several different forms within a social network’s “gated community.” The form that’s arguably the most prevalent is an unsolicited message from a “friend”. In my case, I confirmed a “friend” who referenced a friend whom I trusted. Immediately, my new “friend” sent me an unsolicited offer to buy a new product that he/she was selling. Not a big deal in the scheme of life’s more important moments, but irritating nevertheless.

On the other hand, I welcome messages from Rohit Bhargava promoting his new book Personality Not Included. On Facebook, I joined Rohit’s
Personality Not Included – The Official Reader’s Group and expected to receive such messages, given the fact that he set up the group as a quasi-commercial network. Further, by following Rohit, I’m gaining tips on how to use Facebook groups responsibly so as not to offend anyone who decides to join any groups I create.

Privacy and social networks

Research papers:

Identifying inherent privacy conflicts in social network sites

Assessing the privacy risk of sharing anonymized network data

Proposed algorithm for automatically extracting social hierarchy data from electronic communication behavior

Discusses how rumors, viruses, and ideas propagate over social social networks