GDPR & Its Impact on Social Media & Digital Marketing

What we know...

  • The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), is a new regulatory framework implemented by the EU, designed to protect the online data privacy of EU citizens
  • GDPR enforces a ‘right to be forgotten,’ as well as rules which stipulate that online services users must knowingly consent to their data being stored, used, and exchanged between third-party organizations
  • Because of strict data collection, storage, and user consent rules, GDPR poses significant challenges to social media and digital marketing professionals

Are you a B2B marketing or digital marketing professional? If so, are you aware of how the EU’s new GDPR legislation might impact your business? 

Designed to protect the online data privacy of EU citizens, GDPR requires online companies to follow several strict rules when collecting, storing and using personal data from their users.

  • All users must knowingly consent to any information collected about them being stored by a third party 
  • Organizations must ensure that any data is stored safely and securely
  • EU citizens and residents must be made aware of how their data will be used
  • Consent must be given by any EU citizen with regard to how data and contact information especially, will be used, stored, and shared by different organizations

What Does GDPR Mean for Digital Marketing?
The first thing to keep in mind with regard to new GDPR regulations is that the consequences for non-compliance are severe.

At present, the EU reserves the right to impose a fine on non-compliant enterprises. Either this or a fine equivocal to 2% of a company’s annual worldwide turnover.

As for the immediate ramifications on digital marketers:

  • GDPR effectively makes online ‘scraping’ for emails and contact information illegal
  • Subscribers to email newsletters and mailing lists must be provided with an easy way to opt out of such subscriptions
  • Direct emails and social media messages can no longer be forwarded to target audience members who have not given their explicit consent to receive such communications

Of course, scaping user data from online is already frowned upon by many digital marketing professionals. The real challenges with GDPR, though, lie with social media marketing and B2B marketing.

GDPR & Its Implications for Your B2B Marketing Database
With regard to business to business marketing, all the same rules regarding user consent apply as previously detailed. That said, for a clearer understanding of the true implications, all B2B marketing professionals should familiarize themselves with the EU’s own Information Commission Office guidelines.

Is Sending Direct Promotional Email Still Acceptable?
Thankfully, the good news for B2B marketing companies is that GDPR doesn’t prohibit the sending of direct marketing communications. What is essential, however, is that any recipients of direct marketing material have a genuine and legitimate interest in receiving such communications. 

What this means, is that providing data on B2B marketing databases is stored securely (and with the explicit consent of individuals) B2B marketers can still forward promotions to target audience members. - Providing that such communications can be assumed to be of legitimate interest. (No sending of new car sales promotions to pet shop owners etc.)

Social Media Marketing & Lead Generation
One common misunderstanding concerning GDPR rests with the assumption that social media platforms like Facebook, already protect digital marketing professionals, by virtue of their own user terms and conditions.

Sadly, this isn’t the case. 

With GDPR now in full force, no company may use their followers' details without the same explicit consent required in any other kind of digital marketing context. In fact, even marketing firms which use user social media handles in CRM systems, now need each users consent to do so.

How Social Media Platforms are Striving to Simplify GDPR Compliance
Thankfully, in answer to GDPR, social media platforms like Facebook have already started adding custom disclaimer and optional user consent checkboxes to digital marketing lead and ad forms. This means that marketing professionals can acquire consent from followers easily. All that B2B and digital marketing professionals need to remember, is that the onus ultimately rests on them to stay GDPR compliant. - Not any platform upon which they might connect with their target audience. 

Angelique Bailey