Image courtesy of flickr Christiaan Colen

How to write a social media compliance procedure

Whilst the best known digital campaigns tend to be consumer focused, regulated industries are the heartbeat behind the UK economy. The services sector in the UK accounts for 80% of GDP and financial services are an important part of this.

Digital innovation for highly regulated companies isn’t just about virtual reality, chat bots, and embracing the world of open APIs – sometimes it is posting a tweet or sharing a picture on Facebook. It is the challenge of meeting the real-time demands of social media, balancing creativity with wordy disclaimers. This often results in communications teams choosing to stay clear of online channels to not get on the wrong side of compliance teams or infighting.

As a solution, social media can be conquered with an operating procedure. A framework that links into existing regulations and guidance (such as the FCA social media guidelines), providing a set of procedures to follow. Such a procedure can be agreed between multiple teams internally, referred to as an active document, and provide step-by-step instructions for issues/crisis escalation.

If you’re looking to write a procedure for social media compliance, then here are some sections to start you off:

Overview of the team

It sounds straightforward, but list who the members of the team are. List out all relevant titles and contact details. You may be surprised how quickly members of a team change over time and keeping an up-to-date list helps when seeking sign-off or if something on social media needs escalating.

Managing content and approvals

Social media is instantaneous, 24/7, and it never sleeps. Regulated companies on the other hand can be slow to move and occasionally even be their own worst enemies when it comes to social media communications. I’ve worked with regulated companies who put all of their trust in their PR agency to post content, equally I’ve managed social media programmes with a month sign-off process. Regardless, you need an approvals process for content and a regimented way of working that still allows for creativity.

Cyber security

The resurgence of fake news making headlines is raising questions of what to trust online. Fake news isn’t just an issue for journalism and social media, it’s about ensuring the websites you’re visiting are safe. Fake information has always been around, as exampled in my blog post from 2015, “In the USA, Dow Jones plunged 140 points after a rumour spread on Twitter from Associated Press’ Twitter account. The estimated temporary loss of market cap in the S&P 500 totalled $136.5 billion.”

If you’re a regulated company then have a process to ensure best practice in cyber security. An easy way to start his looking at the format of your passwords and making frequent refreshes. Eventually consider expanding this policy across to your IT team educating people about the sites they are visiting to prevent security breaches.

Social media monitoring

If you are a regulated company then you may have specific social media monitoring requirements to follow. For instance, the FCA require companies to keep a complete record of their communications on social media for auditing purposes. However, social media monitoring is also about understanding the online community you wish to engage with and spot opportunities to take advantage of; whether commenting on a relevant story or assisting a customer in difficulty.

Escalation

By the very nature of social media, sometimes people won’t agree with you or unfortunate instances can occur. Sometimes an employee may get caught doing something they shouldn’t, confidential documents may appear online, and the governance of a company can fall under question. Ensure you have a solid escalation procedure for these situations, supported by a modern social media monitoring solution, and a talented team that knows when (or not) to engage.

Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

One of the biggest bugbears of highly regulated industries are the timescales involved. Make sure your social media compliance procedure includes agreed SLAs, not just for the sign-off of online content, but for compliance feedback and the timeframes of monitoring. For instance, if social media requires continuous active monitoring, then you may need to outsource teams across different time zones.

At Lansons we work with regulated companies on a daily basis, often introducing social media compliance processes. The above list is just a starter of some things to consider. If you have any questions or bits to add, comment below or get in touch.

Image courtesy of flickr Christiaan Colen

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Posted in Digital and Tech, Editor's Picks, Public Relations, Social Media

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