Spend a day walking around London, New York, Paris or Barcelona, in fact, any city, and you would have reason to believe that if you didn't share it on social media, it didn't happen. However, consumers in the UK and France are now alluding to a different future of social media altogether. Research reveals gloomy prospects for social media channels as only 14% of consumers are confident that Snapchat will still exist in a decade. Yet in contrast, email emerged as the platform people think will stand the test of time.
The findings of Mailjet's research suggests that newer platforms are now being perceived as short-lived trends, rather long-term modes of communication, even despite Snap, Snapchat's parent company IPO-ing earlier this year. However, from a legislation perspective, the future of social and audience outreach will hinge on clear consent as we see the introduction of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May next year. Social media will be thrust into the world of opt-in marketing and consumer communication might never be the same again…
What is the GDPR?
The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) replaces the Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC and was designed to harmonize data privacy laws across Europe, to protect and empower all EU citizens data privacy and to reshape the way organizations across the region approach data privacy. Enforcement date: 25 May 2018 – at which time those organizations in non-compliance will face heavy fines. GDPR Home Page
How ready are brands to comply with GDPR? Instagram Stories, Snap Ads, and Pinterest Pins have all seen brands progress into the social space fluidly, but they have never had to secure such tangible permission from users. How will brands adapt to this new environment, and engage with audiences that have sole control over accessibility to their data?
Adapting to Change
The implementation of GDPR will bolster data protection for consumers by enforcing stricter, more streamlined data privacy rules and introducing double opt-in. From May next year, brands will have to be far more careful about how and when they communicate with audiences. Whilst staying compliant is one of the biggest issues they face, brands also need to guarantee they are incentivising audiences towards granting greater consent for their data to be processed and ads personalised.
Brands will have to lawfully prove that every prospect they engage with has actively agreed that they want to be marketed to; an unticked opt-out box will not suffice. To keep people engaged and subscribed, brands will have to remain reactive to their needs and interests, serving an experience they want on each channel.
It is going to take a lot of work and perseverance for social media companies and brands to ensure audiences are on side. For example, when asked about major updates in brand communications through social channels, only 6% of consumers had noticed Instagram's buy button and the platform's Explore page change.
This clearly suggests that consumers don't actively notice changes to the channels they use unless they actually make an impact to their day to day use. To win consent for marketing, these platforms must evolve to suit the needs of consumers and keep the experience seamless through responsive design and personalisation techniques.
Taking the Lead through Email
Brand ads on social have never had to ensure they get ‘opt-in' before consumers see them, however channels can learn from one another about how to best adapt to the impending regulations. Platforms like Snapchat are creating buzz amongst certain demographics at the moment, but email remains a channel which customers continue to turn to in the purchase journey.
Email is clever. It has responded to the way consumers use shopping sites in a way that social hasn't yet. Our research discovered that nearly a third of shoppers are looking for the ability to shop or checkout directly within an email to make the journey more seamless and easy to complete. Email is becoming progressively personalised to the items people have researched or complementary to products they have recently purchased.
Whilst consumers are growing more and more reliant on social media, they are also highly adaptable and we are probably not far off from seeing the traditional inbox being completely overhauled by instant messaging services such as Slack and Messenger. Many businesses are already trying to cut down on email traffic by introducing these channels in their offices.
Slack and Messenger are already a few steps ahead of social because they know how to generate consent. Sending messages, or sharing content via the channels requires opt-in often done using OAuth 2.0 (industry standard enabling platforms to have access to a user's data).
On Slack, it is up to the user to respond to messages to gain the information they want. For example, best practice in Slack starts in the form of an original conversation:
Hey we have got some new information about our new winter range – is there anything you would like to hear more about?
The user then decides whether they want to interact with the brand. A two-way conversation is the safest and most sensible approach in a GDPR future.
For audiences, this means a significant decrease in unwanted SPAM, but it also works in-line with the younger, millennial generation who want digestible, snappy content on their own terms. As email edges closer and closer to the best in consumer dialogue, the giants of the social realm could take many key learnings from email about how it adapts, innovates and matures.