GDPR, Facebook and Building a Community

Reading Time: 4 minutes

It occurred to me that (from a marketing perspective) the recent changes to the way Facebook New Feed works have a lot in common with GDPR.

If you are not sure what GDRP is, it stands the General Data Protection Regulations and it is the biggest shake up of data protection law in 20 years.

Hang on a minute, what have data privacy and Facebook News Feed got in common?

Let me explain.

Facebook is shifting its focus from helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.

In other words, it is focusing on conversation and community. You could say that Facebook are going back to their roots.

If you think about Facebook when it first launched, the social media platform basically provided a way to connect with people you already knew (and had maybe lost contact with).

This then evolved in a way that lead to many people find new people and building online relationships where they each got to know, like and trust each other.

Business pages came into the mix and brands started to connect with their customers too.

Then, marketers ruined everything.

How? Because many business ignored what social media is really about and just saw it as another ad platform (it’s not by the way).

Personally, I’ve never really viewed Facebook as an advertising platform. Yes, I’ve run promoted posts (which are technically referred to as ads), but for me Facebook has always been more about adding value and building relationships than simply saying “buy my stuff.”

Social media works best when content publishers (both individuals and organisations) focus on either entertainment, education or a mix of the two.

Think Edutainment (like the title of Boogie Down Productions’ classic hip hop album from 1990).

When it is well executed, social media connects people around a common interest. That is what Facebook are trying to get back to with the changes to News Feed.

Shared interests

Connecting around a shared interest it is also the key to making direct marketing work when GDPR becomes law on 25 May 2018.

Why? Because GDPR requires you to have consent from the individuals you want to market to and who is going to give consent unless they think they are going to get something worthwhile in exchange.

Important note: when I say something in exchange I am NOT talking about a gift for signing up (often referred to as a lead magnet).

GDPR states that consent must be unbundled, i.e. it must be separate from other terms and conditions.

To be precise, GDPR defines consent as:

“any freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous indication of the data subject’s wishes by which he or she, by a statement or by a clear affirmative action, signifies agreement to the processing of personal data relating to him or her”

Now, here’s the question…

When’s the last time you, as a private individual, gave consent to someone to say “sure, you can try and sell me stuff all the time?”

I doubt you ever have, right?

Very few of us actually want to be sold to, although most people are happy to pay for things that either solve their problems or entertain them.

If you want people to consent to receiving content from you on an ongoing basis, you need to build a relationship with them.

This could be an ‘audience’ relationship, where they want to hear from you or, better still, a relationship build two-way conversation and community.

Building community is not about getting someone to listen to you. And, it’s definitely not about just building a list.

The problem with a list

Think about it. A list of names is transactional.

You need to build relationships that are emotional. Relationships where you know the people you are talking with and they know, like and trust you.

So, my biggest greatest piece of advice to you right now is to stop thinking about names on a list and start thinking about the people that those names represent.

Answer these questions

How can you get to know those people more?

How can you deliver more things that those people actually want to see?

What meaningful conversations can you start?

What are some challenges you can help your ideal customer to resolve?

Because when you understand the answers to these question, and you deliver REAL VALUE to the people you are trying to connect with, they will happily consent to hearing from you.

How can I be sure? Because you will become their trusted advisor, their trusted friend, their go-to person in your market.

Stop focusing on contacts and start focusing on community.