A Quick Guide to Facebook, Data & Targeted Marketing


Whether you’re a marketing professional or not, odds are good you’ve heard about Facebook in the news lately. From users’ privacy concerns to compliance with new laws like the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to Zuckerberg testifying in front of the US Congress, Facebook has experienced no shortage of news and changes.

But what does it all mean for you, as a user, business or advertiser? We’re here to help with a quick and dirty guide of what you need to know about data and social media, what you can do to protect your personal data or the data of your customers and what we think it means for the future of social media marketing.

What You Need to Know

Concerns about personal information and social media are nothing new but the worst fears of many were confirmed earlier this year when news broke that political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica obtained personal information from millions of Facebook users under questionable circumstances, at best. That news story kicked off a series of events leading to greater scrutiny of all social media platforms and their stewardship of personal information and privacy.

As of the writing of this post, in June 2018, we have new laws in place in some countries to protect users as well as greater awareness toward how data is used in general. Noticed more and more websites with pop-ups– similar to the one below– telling you their website uses cookies and other technologies? That’s the result of the EU’s new privacy law, the GDPR. While not effective in the US, it is certainly having a global impact on transparency by requiring websites to alert any EU users that they are collecting information about them online and giving users the chance to opt out.

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What You Can Do

As a consumer, the best way to protect your information is to be stingy about who you give it to. If you’re like me and sign up for every newsletter you come across, consider using a service like Unroll.Me to see a list of all your subscriptions and determine whether they’re all still relevant to you. The fewer places that have your information, the better. When choosing to provide details such as email, credit card information, location, etc. make sure it is a company you trust. On social media, use the ‘Why Am I Seeing This” option on ads to learn more about how Facebook and advertisers target you.

As a business or advertiser, ensure you comply with GDPR regulations even if your audience is not European. Follow Facebook and other platforms’ guides for protecting users, including when using custom audiences and lead ads. While most of these regulations and guidelines are difficult to strictly enforce, it’s a good practice to get into for the future and to generate greater trust and respect from users.

What It All Means

Ultimately, the changes happening across the digital landscape today are good news for both consumers and businesses. Greater transparency and stricter data use laws will make the internet a safer place and give consumers a choice when it comes to the advertising they receive. At the end of the day, advertisers and businesses need to create and curate quality content that their audience cares about. When quality is emphasized first, rather than frequency or discounts or being spammy, it leads to better outcomes for everyone.

Story by: Kelsey Thompson