Social media compliance is something most of us don’t have to worry about in our daily marketing life. But, when it comes to government-regulated industries like medicine, finance, insurance, or government agencies, not staying social media compliant could cause significant problems if specific rules and regulations aren’t followed. As each regulated industry follows different rules and expectations, we’ve put together a list of general guidelines that regulated industries can follow to help stay social media compliant.
First Things First: What is Social Media Compliance?
Compliance can conjure up different ideas for different people, including fear or worry (or sometimes just plain ol’ boredom). But it’s not that bad. It just means following the rules. The catch is that these rules are often a mix of federal, state, and local laws and industry regulations.
What Kind of Rules Are We Talking About To Social Media Compliant?
Compliance can cover several areas, from confidentiality to false claims to record keeping. So what does this look like? Well, let’s dive a bit deeper to make sure that we cover all the bases.
Tip #1: Respect Confidentiality
To start things off, let’s take a look at confidentiality. This means that social media posts in regulated industries must protect the confidentiality of those they serve. This can include information like names, addresses, locations, and any relevant and important numbers related to a person (like ID numbers, patient numbers, etc.).
This is especially important in the medical industry, which requires that all posts be compliant with HIPPA rules and regulations. And the consequences can be severe: even one HIPAA violation can come with fines costing as much as $1.5 million per violation.
So be sure to keep your patients, clients, and other information confidential and secure.
Tip #2: Don’t Make False or Misleading Claims
Repeat after us, “Never mislead your market.”.
The companies that operate within the relegated industries are just like any other organization in the world. They want to stay open, provide a service and make a profit. However, companies in regulated industries can be under the microscope when it comes to making false or misleading claims. This is often due to the nature of their work.
Let’s take a look at the financial industry, for example. Regulations put forth by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), along with the US Security Exchange Commission (SEC), provide clear rules and regulations for compliance with social media use.
This includes prohibiting agencies from making false, misleading, or exaggerated claims. And just as important, it prohibits any posts that predict performance. Lastly, and to tie the whole thing together, the FINRA and SEC require posts to be complete and fair to stay social media compliant.
Can you imagine if these regulations weren’t in place? Then financial companies could post misleading or exaggerated tweets that helped them leverage their positions in the stock market at the expense of others. It would be chaos.
So taken together, these regulations ensure the protection of everyone, including the wider society and the market itself, by establishing clear rules that financial firms must follow. So be sure to post content that is fair, balanced, and doesn’t mislead or project any claims about performance.
Tip #3: Keep Great Records and Archive Your Activity:
Another critical area of social media compliance for regulated industries is record keeping. This includes archiving and keeping access to all relevant materials and information for a set period of time (often a minimum of three years).
This is especially important for government agencies. These are regulated under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The FOIA makes sure that the public has access to government records – and surprisingly, this includes social media posts.
The FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) was an incredible step in the right direction in terms of information transparency in the United States. Since 1967, the world has changed dramatically. A few important inventions like the Internet and technological advances morphed the way humans archive information. Keeping records of your social presence is just as important as keeping financial records or abiding by regulated codes.
Archiving, or at least keeping some record of your social postings, has benefits and should not be ignored out of ignorance or laziness. You must keep in mind it’s needed for any (hopefully not) plethora of legal troubles, and also to have an effective marketing and business strategy. This is sometimes called a content library. Social postings provide useful and interesting information like data and analytics. Use this to boost your social postings and grow your influence.
So to stay in compliance, make sure that you keep records of all of the relevant information for your industry, including social media posts.
Tip #4: Control Who Can Post to Your Company’s Social Media Accounts
This tip doesn’t require any knowledge of complex rules and regulations at all. But it also protects your organization as much, if not more than, any detailed knowledge of compliance.
It’s simple: make sure you know who has access to post to your organization’s social media accounts. Making sure that not just anyone can post to your social media accounts greatly reduces the chance of someone posting something they shouldn’t.
And then, you can take the important next step of making sure that anyone who does post to your social media accounts is up to speed on the rules and regulations that affect your industry.
For added security, consider only allowing employees and other team members to post content that has already been compliance-approved and client-locked. Our enterprise SocialToaster platform has been the tool of choice for dozens of regulated companies over the last 12 years.
With SocialToaster, you create a compliant-approved post that you can disseminate to your SocialToaster audience of brand fans, employees, partners, etc. Once this audience receives your content, they can then share it with their own social media network – amplifying your content without introducing any additional compliance risk as these individuals do not have the ability to edit the post before sharing.
Tip# 5: Post with A Purpose and Have A Plan
As mentioned before, all the regulated industries follow semi-strict rules on how they should conduct themselves online. One of the best ways to navigate these rules is to know what you want to post; post with a purpose. A well-rounded business plan is more than developing consistent and engaging content; you need a philosophy to promote your company’s goals and ethics.
To develop more on posting with a purpose and creating a plan, having a developed content strategy plan is essential for any successful establishment. Regular training should be implemented, whether in-house or by a hired third-party business development firm; keeping staff up to date is needed for success.
Establishing protocols for your company to follow makes it much easier to produce effective content. Planning ahead warrants you to create a QA/approval system. Having content down the pipeline gives the company time to check if all the content is compliant with the relevant authorities. It’s a great opportunity to engage employees more and develop a framework for you to grow from.
Navigate the Storm of Compliance:
Considering everything we’ve covered so far, it can be easy to walk away with the idea that your social media posts should be serious, straightforward, and devoid of all personality. This doesn’t have to be the case!
Just because you’re protecting the privacy of your patients or following FINRA regulations, it doesn’t mean you can’t post things that convey your personality.
Communication on social media is becoming more regulated for many industries and the public. It’s always important to keep up to date with all the best information. Thankfully, the proper organizations provide enough information for all regulated industries to stay social media compliant, such as the DOI.
SocialToaster can empathize with the ever-changing business world. Use SocialToaster to magnify your social media efforts to expose your business to the best of customers and the market. Learn more and schedule a demo today!