Facebook has added a new option to the family drop-down. It’s called Expected: Child and that colon makes me wonder if they’re planning on adding other options. Expected: Dog, Expected: Ex-Husband?
On the surface, it’s a charming addition. A fun and surprising way to tell everyone the good news. But as one SFGate blogger points out, what happens when the employer you didn’t tell sees the change? What if the pregnancy ends badly? Do you really want baby daddy number two to know that you’re about to do it again with baby daddy number three?
From a marketing standpoint (this is a marketing blog), it’s a delightful bit of information. Marketing to parents is big business, so a long list of public due dates is gold, if you can find an efficient way to mine it.
Earlier this year, Dashboard Insight published a piece called “The Realities of Social Media Data Mining.” The author points out that what you put on your Facebook page, doesn’t stay on your Facebook page. Third-party connector apps are designed to automatically recognize not only you, but also any of your friends who visit a particular website. Start clicking “like” on cribs and maternity clothes and the system will connect the dots whether you like it or not.
As a marketer, I’m not here to say that data mining is bad. When I was pregnant (long before Facebook), I was bombarded with freebies and coupons which I assumed came from hospital lists, birth records and the parenting magazine subscriptions. We were mining data then, and we’re still mining it now. The difference is, now it’s so easy, so brainless, that it’s easy for people and marketers to overstep.
To Facebook users, think twice before selecting the “expected” box. For marketers, if the information is out there, it’s fair game. Go forth and offer those free diapers. Most new parents will be happy to accept them no matter how you got their information.