What is the purpose of POPI?
The purpose of [tooltip title=”” content=”Protection of Personal Information” type=”classic” ]POPI[/tooltip] is to protect the right to privacy of the processing of personal information; and to balance the right to privacy against other rights, such as the right of access to information.
This change to the law influences email marketing and database marketing (direct marketers) because the processing of information for direct marketing is (under POPI) prohibited unless the company can gain implicit consent from the person involved.
What effect does this have on Social Media Marketing?
In essence; those practising social media marketing are already in compliance with the Protection of Personal Information Bill. At its core; the Bill says that you need to have implicit consent to contact or solicit business from those who you are in contact with. As the individuals who are engaged with you via your social channels have done so voluntarily; they have already consented to receive communication from you.
The trick with social media marketing comes when you have a social media presence that is dedicated for a specific purpose; let’s say like that of customer service; and then this channel becomes a sales channel.
The initial value proposition that you gave to those individuals who followed you has changed.
When it comes to changing the purpose of a social communications channel; the spirit of POPI now comes into play as you are no longer communicating with individuals within the area for which they originally gave you their consent and this is in direct contrast to the Protection of Personal Information Bill.
While there is a simple way for those who are following you to stop receiving your now unsolicited communication – simply unfollowing you – POPI says that the onus is on the business from which the communication originates to first gain permission from an individual first.
In short; a business who is using social media as a communication channel or customer service channel and then alters the purpose of that channel can only do so (under POPI) once everyone who follows that organisations channel has given their permission that they agree to receive a different kind of communication.