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New data from Pew Internet found that 50 percent of internet users have concerns about the growing amount of personal information available online. This represents a steep increase from 2009, when just 30 percent of participants reported concerns about having their information exposed.

Of the 792 people who participated in the survey, 86 percent say they have taken steps to protect themselves. Despite those efforts, 21 percent have seen their email or social media accounts compromised in the past.

Bottom Line: If you’re collecting information from your customers — whether it’s asking them to subscribe to your email list or make a donation or purchase online — you need to make sure you’re taking the appropriate steps to protect their information and your money.

Remember: people do business with people that they know, like, and trust. Losing that trust will not only hurt your reputation, but could result in missed opportunities to grow your business.

Here are some of the other top stories that caught our eye this week…

Smartphones, tablets to boost holiday e-commerce sales

According to a new report from eMarketer, e-commerce sales are expected to jump by 15 percent this holiday season, with mobile playing an increasingly important role.

In 2011 and 2012, mobile’s contribution to e-commerce holiday sales was 7 percent and 11 percent, respectively. In 2013, mobile is expected to account for 16 percent of all online holiday purchases.

EMarketer projects that by 2017, 26 percent of all e-commerce purchases will come from tablets or smartphones.

Bottom Line: You don’t need to have an e-commerce component to your business to take advantage of all this mobile activity. Consumers aren’t just buying products on mobile, they are also reading emails, checking social media, and searching for products and services right from their smartphones and tablets.

Whether you sell to consumers, offer services to other business, or run a nonprofit organization —mobile needs to be part of your holiday marketing planning.

Facebook hashtags not helping brand exposure

According to a new study from EdgeRank Checker, adding hashtags to status updates is not helping brands boost their exposure.

The study, which included data from more than 500 Facebook Pages, found that the “viral reach/per fan” for updates with hashtags was .80 percent compared to 1.30 percent for posts without.

EdgeRank Checker also analyzed data from brands using hashtags on Twitter and found that 70 percent of brands experienced an increase in retweets when using a hashtag.

Bottom Line: While hashtags have failed to impress Facebook users up to this point, it’s still too early to give up on them all together. Using hashtags on Facebook is a new and unfamiliar experience for the vast majority of Facebook users. Time will tell if the use of hashtags will take shape in the future.

[INFOGRAPHIC] How U.S. and UK small businesses are using mobile technology

Over the last few months, all of us here at Constant Contact have been looking at the use of mobile technology for small businesses across the U.S. and UK.

At first glance, U.S. and UK small businesses seem on par, with 66 percent of U.S. small businesses owning a mobile device or solution versus 68 percent of UK small businesses.

Differences emerge when it comes to using mobile for business.

In the U.S., the majority of small businesses are at least beginning to use mobile solutions for business, especially as part of their email and social media marketing efforts. The mobile holdouts cite lack of time and lack of customer demand as the top roadblocks.

In the UK, the majority of small businesses are not yet leveraging mobile solutions for business. The majority of small businesses report little interest in leveraging mobile for business in the future, with 55 percent of UK businesses having no interest versus just 15 percent in the U.S.

See full infographic here.

Bottom Line: These days, all businesses and organizations —regardless of your size, location, or industry — need to be thinking about mobile when it comes to running and marketing your business.

Adopting a mobile strategy doesn’t need to be overwhelming and it certainly shouldn’t break the bank. There are plenty of simple steps you can take today to make mobile a bigger part of your business.

Here are 21 mobile marketing resources to help you get started.

What steps are you taking to protect your customers’ information? Let us know in the comments below.