How privacy regulations affect social media marketing ...
With social media platforms tightening privacy policies and restricting the organic reach of posts made through company pages, getting through to the right audience has become an increasingly tough job.
While the European General Data Protection and Regulation law and other privacy restrictions on social media have considerably improved consumers' experience on the web, they have also made the job of marketers harder and harder.
Remember Apple's update to iOS 14.5? Even those of us who are not iOS users will have at some point heard of or read about that somewhere. What was so special about it is that it introduced the App Tracking Transparency tool, causing every app to ask the user's permission to track behaviors and share that data with third parties.
Since then, there's been an even bigger number of issues when it comes to targeting people on smartphones. Because the priority is protecting and safeguarding individuals' personal information and data, it's now easier not to be profiled, opt-out of cookies, and block the tracking of app-usage behavior.
On top of all that, social media channels are heavily cracked down in terms of the amount of data you can gather. Targeting people with paid ads or on Facebook has also become a more challenging endeavor since GDPR requires people to consent to the tracking and sharing personal data. And, of course, most people choose to deny it.
That explains why marketers feel like they're just shooting blanks more often than not.
... And how to skirt the problem
The problem with restrictions is that they cripple the reach of more aggressive marketing methods. With people turning off tracking tools, there's no way to be as accurate anymore. So, how can we replace targeted ads without bumping into the walls of privacy?
Of course, there's nothing quite as effective as targeting people directly; let's be realistic. And to be fair, there was a need for limitations, to protect aggressive marketers from themselves. In order to keep digital platforms and social media a viable marketing area, the user always has to find value above intrusion. Otherwise the danger exists that they will look for even more severe privacy-limiting tools or even abandon the experience altogether. So, as a marketer, it also makes sense to cap these seemingly limitless possibilities to preserve the opportunities.
But that doesn't mean that the same result — business growth — can't still be achieved.
If you think about it, these privacy regulations want us to go back to the roots. To have social media do what they were born to do: sharing and delivering valuable information to establish genuine connections. The same way people prefer talking to a real person from a helpdesk, suggestions and advertising works best when it comes from a person, not an algorithm.
Influence through peers, not through search history.
To harness the power of the organic kind of social media, you can take advantage of some well-known platforms, like Hootsuite or Buffer. They are excellent tools to a grip on your individual social media game, letting you create and schedule posts flawlessly.
The problem is scaling, of course.
You see, they pretty much only cater to one single account or page, usually the company page. Great for individuals, much less for organizations as they're neither able to expand your network nor approach people with personalized messaging. Both are crucial if you truly want to reach and resonate like the personalized targeting is/was able to do.
To take full advantage of the power of organic marketing, we need a better stage and a better stage crew. For every company page, there are X amount of people connected — employees, for example — who are connecting on a much higher level. So, given a chance, wouldn't you, as a marketer, want to enable them to socially market your product, services or messaging as well?
Instead of letting algorithms bother your audience, let your existing network do what it does best: Connect. Advocacy is all about enabling and taking advantage of existing, established and trusted human connections.
Embrace privacy and up your social marketing game at the same time
Sponsored advertising alone doesn't stand a chance in generating trust. When an ad pops up on social media, people often see just another faceless brand desperately trying its hand at selling something. There is no human-to-human interaction there. There is no authenticity, no credibility. The product or service is the only thing that might persuade, and unless the offer is really really good, there will mostly be annoyance and detachment.
Your peers have the power to gain the trust of the people they reach through a social media network because the messaging hinges on the existing personal connection. Because you know the people in your network, you are able to choose the right words to speak to them. This means that a peer's network is the perfect place for that person to raise brand awareness, recruit or even sell.
Advocacy extends your reach without meddling with privacy, stimulates social sharing, and ups your social selling game.
You and your company can take advantage of that bond to create durable business connections and tackle business challenges, whether it be recruiting new talent, building up your employer brand, or socially marketing your product.
So while advocacy may not deliver the same convenience or shear reach of targeted ads, it does provide the opportunity to build long-lasting relations with your audience, and therefore with your brand and its product or services. Advocacy doesn't try to bypass privacy, it works within its boundaries and still manages to stimulate social sharing and enrich your marketing with a more authentic experience.
A genuine experience, based on the roots and core of social media platforms. Something we can all agree we should go back to sooner rather than later.