7 Must Knows About Social Media Compliance

When it comes to social media I often find myself remembering the fable of the town gossip. Overcome with shame at his misconduct, the gossiper asked the town elder how he could repair all the terrible things he’d said. In response, the town elder split open a pillow and watched as the feathers were cast out, every which way, into the wind. He turned to the troubled gossiper and asked him to go collect all the feathers. “That’s impossible,” said the man.

So too, what you say in social media cannot be taken back no matter how hard you try.
Social media can be a particularly tricky environment to navigate for such a highly regulated industry like that of Finance. Goldman Sachs only uttered its first tweet as of May 2012. Caution is key, but it’s no excuse to sit this one out. Here are 7 Things To Know About Social Media Compliance:

1. As Good As Your Word
All social media communication is considered the same as in-person communication. Be discerning when it comes to what you communicate. If a company’s yearly earnings have yet to be announced, those numbers are definitely not something that should be tweeted about.

2. Keep a Watchful Eye
Compliance regulations require that all social media activity be supervised and archived. All such activity and associated content must be kept on-hand for three years.

3. Supervision vs. Pre-Approval
There are two distinct types of social media content: static and interactive. Static content is fixed, like website copy, or a Facebook Profile. Static content requires pre-approval by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Interactive content are the kinds of items mentioned in #2. Items such as status updates and tweets are to be supervised and archived by your firm or a 3rd party.

4. Food For Thought
As Sophocles once said, “No enemy is worse than bad advice.” Giving advice over social media is ill-advised. The best advice is personalized and given with the proper context. The vast world of social media allows for neither of those things.

5. Likes, and the like
Likes, recommendations, endorsements – every social media site has their own version of this action. Whatever name they go by, they are considered client testimonials, and are prohibited by the SEC. Fortunately some social networks, like LinkedIn, are easy adaptable, and allow you to hide “endorsements” and “recommendations” with the click of a button.

6. Know What You’re Linking To
Linking to 3rd party content on your social media sites can be a quick an easy post. 3rd party sharing, though, can often be a knee-jerk reaction. It is important to know your source, as you can be liable for the content you link to if it is false or misleading.

7. What’s Your Policy?
The importance of a social media policy can never be overstated. It defines your approach social interactions on the web. You can have your employees help draft one if your company doesn’t yet have a policy. Or, if you do, make sure your employees are comfortable and engaged with the policy. A social media policy-literate workforce, is a compliant one.

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