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How Apple’s privacy changes force social media marketing to evolve

Type: Articles
Topic: Preference Mgmt

Topic: Zero Party Data

Original Article: Venture Beat

by Scott Frey, founder, president and CEO of PossibleNOW

Direct-to-consumer businesses that previously relied heavily on Facebook (now Meta) as a way to target and advertise via social media are now starting to realize the perils that resulted from privacy policy changes instituted by Apple. These changes have upended the digital advertising strategy for hundreds of thousands of businesses and forced these companies to find new paths to their coveted customers.

Some brands have remained loyal to Facebook and Instagram, but many others are making sharp pivots to embrace more zero-party data and first-party data while turning to new social platforms for marketing based on one-to-one connections, such as TikTok.

Social media marketing: What changed with Apple?

Apple, maker of the iPhone and iPad, has changed the way it handles its users’ privacy. Specifically, it now gives customers enhanced control over privacy settings, giving them more say over which of their personal data is provided to brands.

Ads driven by Big Data have helped companies target people on social platforms such as Meta and Instagram, platforms that in the past could deliver messages to users who possess characteristics that indicate the messages and offers are likely to be of interest.

Of course, Big Data is the process of purchasing data from a third-party provider — collecting online activity, purchase history, social media content and more to identify people who are potentially interested in what companies have to offer.

How are brands of every size changing their marketing?

But today Apple’s privacy changes have made this process more difficult, driving more companies to seek alternate channels for delivering their marketing messages. Aside from privacy, this pivot isn’t all bad news for companies since these Big Data-driven ads were based on outdated or inaccurate data.

As a result, a growing cadre of brands are taking a more community-driven approach to building relationships and producing their own content on social platforms and blogs, while also working with smaller-scale influencers and returning to other “traditional” forms of marketing such as direct mail and email. These brands feel that engaging more with consumers on social media through direct messages is almost the opposite of the large-scale targeting of consumers they had previously employed via third-party lists. By taking a more one-on-one approach to each individual customer, they can make a more lasting impression.

This pivot has helped companies leverage zero-party data, which is information a customer freely and intentionally shares with a brand they trust. It can include personal insights like preferences, feedback, profile information, interests, consent, and purchase intent.

The result is more trust, empowerment and data control

This step is in the right direction in that customers should be more in control of their data. The benefits of using zero-party data are that:

  • It is unique to the brand and no other brand has the same data.
  • It is the ultimate source of truth in that the customer offers up their own insight, rather than the brand making assumptions based on big data.
  • It is relationship-based so it relies on a higher level of trust with the customer, which means the company must be transparent about its use of the data and the relationship must be mutually beneficial.

Every communication across the customer life cycle (prospect, purchase, registration, customer service) creates a wealth of potential for collecting zero-party data. For example, you can send customers a survey to better understand their unique perspectives on the company, products or services. You can build a quiz into your welcome email, which can be both engaging and insightful. You can send a text message shortly after a customer makes a purchase, and be a little creative in enticing consumers to share data and to set yourself apart from others. Many companies today are also using pop-ups on their websites that ask a few engaging questions, with the promise of providing something of value in return for users’ time.

Even B2B-focused companies are seeing changes to the way they’ve been marketing. The FTC is currently reviewing whether to continue its Telemarketing Sales Rule business-to-business exception, which if discontinued means B2B-focused companies would no longer be able to use telemarketing as the government cracks down on telemarketing abuse. This change would mean B2B companies too would need to identify new ways of marketing, such as zero-party data approaches.

The changes implemented by Apple have made Meta and Instagram less appealing as marketing channels. This has made zero-party data and new social platforms and engagement through blogs and traditional marketing even more valuable. Brands that head in this direction and embrace new opportunities for marketing and consumer engagement will see great benefits in the years ahead.