One thing that brands have learned when it comes to their social media strategy is that learning never stops.

This past Friday, February 21, 2014, McCann Truth Central and McCann Always On took the stage at Social Media Week NYC to present The Truth About Privacy and Sharing: From Selfies To #Hashtags. The event was held at the Highline Stages in Manhattan’s Meatpacking district.

The first half of the event featured a spirited presentation of the Truth about Privacy 2013 study findings – presented by Laura and Nadia. They told us about the pitfalls of social media sharing, which include bullying, boasting, begging, and being boring.

The second half of the event featured a compelling panel discussion, with participants including Graydon Gordian (Community Manager, Percolate), Kelly Jones (Head of Thought Leadership, Microsoft), Kandace Hudspeth (Global Director, McCann Always On) and Sharon Panelo (Strategy Director, McCann Always On). Kevin Nelson, the Global Strategy Director and head of the Telecom business at McCann, expertly moderated the panel.

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Kelly kicked off the conversation with her thoughts on the value exchange between consumers and brands, especially as it related to the issue of data sharing and privacy. She mentioned how Microsoft has, “learned that consumers are more aware that they are sharing data than they’ve ever been before, and now they want something back for it.” In light of this information, engineers at Microsoft are shifting their philosophies and using consumer insights as part of the development process, something relatively new in the tech space.

Kandace and Sharon – from McCann Always On – tackled the issue of how consumers and brands cope with the uncertainty of sharing. What is the line between being smart and calculated, and reacting quickly in a landscape that moves at warp speed? Kandace’s belief is that consumers have been quicker to create coping mechanisms than brands. For the individual, she said, “The privacy issue has pushed or compelled them to find other ways to share. They’re really smart and systematic about what apps they use for certain tasks, the type of content, and with whom they share.”

On the flipside she’s found herself urging clients to gain an understanding of the right platforms on which to engage consumers. She works with them by diversifying their strategy – directing them to both ephemeral social networks like Snapchat (where experimentation is safer) and to invest in social R&D.

Sharon challenged the notion that brands need to walk on egg shells when it comes to social media strategies, stating that they need to be less scared and more empowered. She talked about how, “Culture today around privacy and data is so rooted in fear – it’s ‘Big Brother is watching you’. But there is a total positive side that most brands aren’t getting at.” Ultimately, for brands the aim should be to “not own the consumers’ data, but to present it in a way that helps them.”

Finally, Graydon shared advice that Percolate provides for their clients in the quest for meaningful social media interaction with consumers. He advised that, “The best way to appear genuine is to be genuine.” He said Percolate likes to remind clients that there are, “Still people behind the brand’s communications and that if they let their community manager get excited, their content will be excitable.”

Empowered with the results of our study and the keen advice from our informed panel members, Truth Central showed little shyness in broadcasting our Social Media Week event.

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