Well, GDPR has been the hot topic for quite some time now. And for good reasons too! Apart from being a pioneering law for data protection, GDPR has completely changed the outbound marketing as we knew it for decades. Trust me, I’m not complaining! In fact, in this age of information over-dose, outbound marketing was slowly (but steadily) losing its ground to inbound and social media marketing.
In the last article, we discussed how to combine inbound and outbound strategies to create targeted marketing campaigns without offending GDPR clauses. And, as promised, in this post, we are going to discuss how social media can strengthen your marketing efforts in the time of GDPR.
What is Social Media Marketing?
No brainer, right? When you market on social media, it is social media marketing! Now, any social media communication can be considered marketing if the goal is to promote a product, service, brand or idea. Since the inception of MySpace and LinkedIn, businesses have been more or less using social media platforms for reaching out to their customers outside the bounds of traditional adverts.
As internet became more and more popular, social networks thrived. And marketers figured out ways of reaching out to their audience through this not-so-formal medium. Plus, it was dirt cheap compared to traditional marketing; so that helped!
Here’s how marketers has been using social media marketing so far:
So, Let’s See How Social Media Marketing Can Come to Your Rescue in the Post-GDPR Era
GDPR comes with a hefty penalty. A penalty of 20 million Pounds or 4% of your total turnover, whichever is higher. So, it’s no wonder that marketers are constantly looking over the shoulder before strategizing their next move.
Here, social media offers a safe haven environment to you!
All social networking platforms have their own Terms & Conditions, as per the requirements of GDPR. Users don’t get to create an account without first accepting those. So, social media platforms are literally a GDPR-safe walled community.
This means, you as a business get to showcase your messages and marketing materials to anyone who has ‘Liked’ or ‘Followed’ your page. And, this my friend, is a great opportunity for reaching out to your target audience when traditional outbound marketing is heavily monitored and restricted.
Moreover, you can further utilize paid social media marketing to reach out to an audience who have interest in businesses similar to yours.
Social Media Direct Messaging
Direct messaging has become a popular feature of social media marketing. For the uninitiated, direct messaging is when brands use the direct message or chat feature of a social media platform to reach out to their target audience.
As per some marketing experts, direct messaging is the new e-mail! Well, just like email, the rule of Consent applies here too. In case of social media, when a User likes your brand page, she is consenting for receiving communication from your brand (as part of the Terms & Conditions). So, you can go ahead and send her your message.
However, when the User receives the message for the first time, she has the choice to accept or block you from sending marketing messages now and in future. In case, the User chose to block, you cannot send her any marketing communication in future, at least not through the same channel. She can still see your brand posts and interact with them (i.e. commenting, liking or sharing), but you won’t be able to send direct messages anymore.
Here are some points to keep in mind.
Engage your audience first!
Don’t be tempted to send out direct messages indiscriminately. That is a recipe for disaster, I promise you! First build a relationship with your audience. Engage them with interesting, interactive and insightful posts. Once your audience know that any content coming from you has value, they’ll be more receptive towards your marketing communications.
You may follow some rules like sending a direct message after a certain number of days since the particular user ‘Liked’ or ‘Followed’ your page. Or maybe, a certain numbers of likes or shares can be the qualifying criteria.
But, ensure that you build on the credibility factor before you start marketing with ‘Direct Message’.
Use direct message to get consent for e-mail marketing!
The biggest dilemma of email marketing in the post-GDPR era is how to reach out to new users.
Could you send an email saying ‘Hi, I’m mailing you to ask whether you would like to receive mails from me?”? You cannot do that. What you CAN do, is to send a direct message on social media to ask your followers whether they would like to receive emails from your brand. Well, this is a kind of GDPR loophole! The important thing is, once the user gives you consent and you document the same properly, that IS a legitimate consent for email marketing!
Here also, the golden rule of no-haste applies. First, build a relation with your audience, use a certain amount of interactions as the qualifying criteria and then only send the request in a creative way. Also, make sure to have a proper system in place, so that you can capture and document that consent for future reference.
Turn Your Team Members into Brand Ambassadors
Are your team members closely involved with your brand? Are they proud to be part of the team? If the answer is yes, you’ve already won half the battle!
While GDPR prohibits your business or in case of social media, your official social page from contacting users directly with marketing messages, it has no say over how individual users interact among themselves on a social media platform. And that is where your team members turned brand ambassadors come into the picture.
As individuals, your team members can share your page contents, spread the word among their followers and can even invite them to like and share your page. And when your audience gets to know about your services and products from your team members, they are more likely to trust you and give consent for further contact.
Some crucial points to remember!
Now that you know how fruitful social media platforms can be, let me play the (much needed) Devil’s Advocate here!
Just because social media provides you a GDPR-safe walled community to market to, it does not mean you can let your guards down. Here are some points you need to pay special attention to:
- Till the time your audience is viewing or interacting with your content on the social media platform, you don’t need to worry. However, the moment they fill up any contact form or land on your landing page, complying to GDPR guidelines is your responsibility. Make sure to pay attention to this and collect proper consent.
- In case you are collecting email marketing consent through social media, ensure that you can document that consent in a way that can be produced as evidence (if needed) in future.
Social media platforms are really amazing when it comes to engaging your audience. And today, when there are options like Live Streaming, Video Sharing, Surveying beside the age old picture and update sharing, you can truly touch the world through social media. GDPR has just propelled the boat a bit!
So, if you are not using social marketing yet, it’s time to get in the game!