The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is often hailed as a “gold standard” regulation to protect consumer information and data privacy in the modern digital age. Through strong measures and stiff penalties, the GDPR aims to control how organizations in any country can collect, use, and store the personal information of EU data subjects.

These regulations also apply to companies that collect EU citizens’ data via social media ads, tracking pixels, website opt-ins, cookies, and so forth. GDPR compliance is compulsory, and non-compliance can lead to severe penalties.

If you are a social media marketer who collects the information of EU citizens, here’s what you need to know about GDPR as it relates to social media.

GDPR and Social Media Marketing

The GDPR’s 91 articles and 11 chapters aim to prevent businesses from collecting, processing, storing, or sharing the data of EU consumers without their consent. This includes social media customer data, including:

  • Web browser cookies
  • IP addresses
  • Facebook tracking pixels
  • Social media photos
  • Any other kind of identifying information associated with social media posts, chat tools, social media ads, and the like
  • To get consent, businesses must implement opt-in checkboxes and disclose the terms of data collection and use, which visitors can review and choose if they want to accept.
  • So if your organization collects or processes the sensitive data of EU data subjects from social media, you may not be GDPR-compliant, even if you believe you are. That’s why it’s crucial to understand the GDPR and its effect on social media channels.
  • What Is the Impact of GDPR on Social Media Marketing?

    GDPR impacts social media marketing in three critical ways:

    Remarketing or Retargeting Ads

    Retargeting or remarketing advertising is a digital marketing strategy of reaching out to previous visitors of a website or social media page with highly targeted ads. The ads attempt to recapture the user’s attention and improve conversion. For this kind of social media advertising to work, consumer data about browsing patterns, purchase history, and demographics is essential.

    To comply with GDPR requirements, you must get users’ consent to collect and process their data before running a remarketing campaign. For this, you must implement a sign-up page or create an opt-in disclaimer about data usage within the ad.

    These efforts add extra steps to your marketing activities and make sending targeted ads to a “captive” audience more challenging. But it also brings you closer to GDPR compliance, so the effort is worth it.

    Social Media Traffic, Double Opt-ins, and Privacy Policy

    GDPR makes “double opt-ins” mandatory, which means that before you can use the data of EU consumers, they must opt-in twice. With the first opt-in, they accept your privacy notice which explains how you will process and protect their data. With the second, users accept your offer — say, to subscribe to a newsletter or download a guide or whitepaper.

    To achieve GDPR compliance, you should also implement a pop-up message on your website requiring first-time site visitors to accept your cookies and privacy policy. It adds an extra step for site visitors, but users are getting used to these messages, so it won’t harm their experience on your site to any appreciable degree.

    Social Media Behavior Tracking

    Analytics tools like Google Analytics enable marketers to gauge and optimize their social media and advertising ROI. Fortunately, Google Analytics is itself GDPR-compliant, so you can still gain the necessary insights about users, as long as users have accepted your privacy policy.

    Still, test your cookie opt-ins and review your privacy policy if you’re seeing a drag on your EU traffic. Issues like a clumsy opt-in user experience may cause users to drop out before they accept.

    How Does GDPR Impact Each Social Channel?

    Facebook and Instagram

    Facebook requires advertisers to accept specific terms before running ads. The platform has published detailed GDPR guidelines, clarifying its commitment to transparency, control, and accountability and its role as a data controller and processor. These guidelines can help you create GDPR-compliant ads with disclaimers and explicit consent checkboxes.

    Instagram is owned by Facebook and adheres to the same policies.


    Twitter’s Twitter for Business FAQ advises advertisers to review its Privacy Policy and Master Services Agreement before using its advertising services. The FAQ highlights the company’s role as a data controller and, in some cases, as a data processor. It also specifies advertisers must obtain user consent before uploading a custom or tailored audience to Twitter.


    To ensure GDPR compliance, LinkedIn requires companies to acquire data only after obtaining the necessary permissions from users. Companies and advertisers that obtain data through LinkedIn for marketing purposes are considered data controllers and are responsible for assuring that any acquired data uploaded into LinkedIn is GDPR-compliant.


    Pinterest’s Advertising Services Agreement does not expressly mention the GDPR. It does, however, specify that advertisers that collect personal data must legally obtain prior consent from users. Further, all user data must be processed in compliance with applicable privacy laws and data protection laws and regulations (such as the GDPR).

    Best Practices for GDPR Compliance on Social Media

    The steps for GDPR compliance don’t have to be overwhelming. By complying with the GDPR, you can get better-quality user data that helps you create more targeted social media marketing campaigns. Compliance is definitely to your benefit. You can achieve compliance without making significant changes to your social media strategy. Keep these best practices in mind:

    Build Trust and Relationships

    If you want to implement great social media campaigns while maintaining GDPR compliance, it’s vital to focus on users and earn their trust. Here are some ways to do this:

    • Never contact EU users without their permission
    • Don’t send irrelevant information or information users didn’t request. For example, if someone did not opt-in to subscribe to your newsletter, don’t send that person the newsletter. If you do, you will lose his or her trust — and get into GDPR trouble as well.
    • Implement double opt-in and an up-to-date privacy policy.
    • Don’t just post promotional ads. Post free content like ebooks, videos, and so forth, that users will find valuable, informative, or simply entertaining.
    • Respond to all comments and criticisms on your social pages to show users that you are “listening” to them and are willing to invest time and effort in building a relationship with them.

    Keep Track of Permissions

    If someone asked that you not contact them or has unsubscribed from your content, make sure you track this information. More importantly, make sure that you adhere to these user requests.

    Strengthen Social Media Security

    The GDPR is meant to address EU users’ privacy concerns. So if your social media security is lax, you defeat the GDPR’s purpose. Tighten security by limiting access to your social media accounts to only a few authorized users. Set up two-factor authentication for additional security.

    Let ZenGRC Help With GDPR Compliance

    ZenGRC is an integrated and automated system of record that can help you strengthen your GDPR compliance posture.

    Get a comprehensive view of your control environments with insightful reporting and dashboards. Track activities to completion with automated workflows. ZenGRC is a single source of truth that will help you ensure you are always compliant and audit-ready.

    Contact us today to schedule a demo.