User Privacy is BAD for Small Business

It's been a while since I blogged, but that's just because I wanted to take some time off, recharge and use it to work on MBC's development in the background. But, I'm not here to tell you about my holiday. Instead, I'm going to shed some light on the ways recent Facebook news and privacy changes affect small businesses. It's not great, I'm afraid. Nonetheless, let's analyse the news objectively. 

EU Court Ruling on the 'Like' Button

Just a couple of weeks ago the EU Court ruled that websites, which use the integrated 'Like' button on any of their pages must obtain specific consent from the users. That's to ensure they are aware that some of their information can be transferred to Facebook for advertising purposes.

It actually doesn't matter if the user has clicked on that button or if they have a Facebook profile. The court would like to see a proof of consent just for the fact that button is on your web page. Otherwise you become GDPR non-compliant and that’s a whole new level of trouble you don't want to get yourself into.

User privacy has become a leading topic for social media giants and the overall Internet community ever since the Cambridge Analytica scandal. And while from a user perspective I understand why it is it important to feel safe online and not monitored every second, putting my marketing and business hat on, I'm not so thrilled. Not at all actually. 

What changes you need to make to stay out of trouble? 

For starters, if you have the Facebook 'Like' button on any of your pages you need to add something like this to your Privacy Policy:  "Some of your data may be shared with Facebook and other social media platforms through the integrated 'Like' and 'Share' buttons. This helps us optimise our marketing campaigns and provide a better user experience to you."

Unfortunately, this, on its own, is not enough to keep you out of GDPR trouble. Remember, you are required to obtain specific consent for having that 'Like' button. 

You should add a pop-up block informing the user of the presence of that button on your page and the fact it may share their personal data with Facebook for marketing purposes. Then you need to give them a chance to consent or not to this. And if they don't, you can't use their digital activities on your website and browsing data in your marketing campaigns. 

The very fact you may have to sieve those, who didn't consent to the 'Like' button is overwhelming and not so straightforward. 

The easier option may be to just remove the button and say goodbye to the free exposure your brand was getting on Facebook when someone likes content on your webpage. 

Either way, small businesses are not drawing much advantage from this user privacy win. 

Facebook's New Privacy Tool

You think this is bad enough? It gets worse.

Days ago Facebook released its new privacy tool, which allows users to unlink their third party browsing data and activity from their Facebook account. In other words, Facebook Pixel will stop being as effective. 

Up until now, businesses could design very successful retargeting campaigns through linking the user's activity on their website to the individual's Facebook account. It was the perfect sales funnel closure. 

The new privacy tool will allow users to choose their activity to not be included in Pixel data built audiences. So, if you checked a pair of shoes online and you don't want to see them anymore, you can use that tool and you won't see an ad featuring them later.

Great for the everyday user who's tired of spammy ads!

Not so great for advertisers, and especially small businesses. 

Due to those huge privacy scandals, many people left Facebook and the giant is now trying to win their trust back with the pledge of transparency. 

However, the bigger problem for Facebook would be losing the business users, because those are the ones bringing the cash. And if this new privacy tool gets popular among users, it would mean less effective ad campaigns, therefore less cash flow for Zuck and his team.

Unless, of course, they are cooking something entirely new no one knows about yet. 

Here comes the silver lining. There is good news! 

The privacy tool will only be released for testing in 3 countries - South Korea, Spain and Republic of Ireland. If your business does not operate in these countries, you can continue making the most of your paid ad campaigns. Especially, the retargeting ads! While you can...

The 'Share' Button is Disappearing

Have you noticed? Many accounts on Facebook no longer display a share button at the bottom of their publications. Instead, there's the Messenger button, which prompts you to share the post privately to one or more of your contacts. 

Interestingly, there's not much information about this change on the Internet, nor in Facebook's newsroom. However, that's probably one of the features the social media giant had planned when they said Facebook is moving more towards privacy and less towards public content. 

What we know so far is that the ‘Share’ button is still available when your post privacy settings are public. If you've chosen to display your posts only to friends, specific lists or other custom audiences, you may see the Messinger button instead. 

On the bright side, the share function seems to be unaffected for Pages at the moment. This is optimistic, since post shares ensure the greatest organic exposure and bring most points for competing with the algorithm. 

Despite the fact that Pages seem to be safe for now, the absence of the share button on personal profiles may affect negatively some users too.

Yes, Facebook doesn't want you to use your personal profile for business and you shouldn't.

However, for some influencers, consultants and service providers, who build a personal brand and circle online, their profile still plays important business role. Because it's personal and that's what people want and trust. 

Don't Say I Didn't Tell You

What I personally see as a bigger and way more annoying trend, coming in response of the disappearing 'share' button, is spammy marketing messages in my inbox. Not that they haven't been here for a while, but it's bound to get way worse if people are unable to share their stuff on their wall or in groups. 

The problem is not so much in the private conversation that this approach provides. The real issue is, most people, who do some sort of business on Facebook, don't really understand how to build a personal or private relationship with a potential client. 

Here's what goes around in your prospect's head when you decide to shoot a message without a clear aim. 

"No, I don't care about your product or service if I don't know you. And by knowing you, I mean, I've interacted with you on a meaningful level at least 3-5 times. Don't send me that message!"

"I don't care about your stuff if we do not have a preexisting conversation about something that I'm genuinely interested in. Don't send me that message!"

"I don't care about your offer unless I consider it valuable. And it's YOUR job to know if I consider something of value or not. Do your research before you send me that message!"

Sending messages with sales pitch to the wrong target audience is a sign of really bad marketing. I can guarantee the majority of people you try to sell to on social media feel this way when you barge in their inbox with your "fantastic offer". Be thoughtful, instead. Sell smart, not hard. 

Cold calling is dead. Let's kill cold messaging before it drives us all nuts!

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