Over half of UK social network users willing to share social data for personalized content

By Jonathan Lakin

The Intent HQ study, conducted among 2,000 UK adults who use social networks, highlights the increasing value of this social media data, with two thirds saying they only follow people or brands they have a genuine interest in. Around a third (32%) also agree they have become more selective in the information they share about likes and interests on social networks.

The research also shows the depth of valuable data available for digital content and ecommerce personalization. Over half of social network users (54%) have shared their relationship status, 50% their interests and hobbies, 30% share information about holidays and 35% share events they’ve attended.

As well as sharing social media data, a significant 56% of social network users confirmed they would also log into another website using their Facebook or Twitter profile for a personalized experience. Accessing offers and discounts on relevant products are the key driver, cited by 57%, followed by products based on their interests (41%) and then seeing content that friends and family have engaged with, such as music, videos or articles (34%).

The most likely sites that people are willing to share their social data with are general retailers (39%) and supermarkets (38%), suggesting that personalization is most valuable when there is a wide variety of products and content to choose from. Other popular verticals for sharing social data are music (29%), travel (22%) and film and TV (22%).

The research results also reveal insights into male and female attitudes to social data sharing.

Men are more likely to log in using their social profile for relevant content recommendations, for example for music, videos or articles relevant to their interests. Women are more likely to share the social data that is public on their profile, for relevant deals and offers, and are also more likely to turn to their social networks for advice on leisure activities, for example which books to read and ideas on days out.

The study did find some resistance to sharing social data on other websites, with the biggest barrier being privacy concerns. Annoying notifications are a frustration, as is annoying friends with irrelevant updates. Men are overall less worried about sharing social data and the age group least concerned was 18-24 year olds.

The statistics clearly show the value of social data in personalization. People are becoming more savvy and selective about what they share on social networks, which only makes the data being made available much richer for true personalization and creating a tailored online experience. This huge volume of data is incredibly powerful, allowing marketers to go far beyond domain specific information in their personalization strategy, targeting intent as opposed to purely using lagging data.

We’ve also identified a clear consumer openness to social personalization, when users know why they are sharing their social data and what they will get in return. The barriers around privacy and over-sharing frustrations should not be ignored, but can be overcome by earning trust, clear transparency, focussing on intent and delivering on the quality online experience. It’s also interesting that it is the youngest age group that is most open to sharing their social data, a sign that this is only going to grow.


The consumer survey was conducted by OnePoll in June 2013 and consulted 2,000 UK consumers who use social networks. The results of answers were translated into percentage values.

About the author

Jonathan Lakin is CEO of Intent HQ.

Intent HQ turns social data into revenue, straight out of the box, using insight from visitors’ social media activity to personalize their online experiences. Plug in our tech and Intent HQ does the rest, presenting content or products each visitor is most likely to love, every time they visit.


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