5 Steps to Social Media Self-Regulation

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Pharmaceutical companies have a fairly unique problem when it comes to social media. Like financial services companies (insurance agencies, banks, investment firms, etc.), pharmaceutical firms have to follow strict compliance guidelines in their social messages, or else risk punishment from regulatory bodies. Unlike the financial services industry, though, Big Pharmaceutical doesn’t have a set list of guidelines to follow. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can fine pharmaceutical companies if they misuse social media, yet they haven’t really set forth any clear social media guidelines for those companies to follow.

Sure is a tricky situation.

And on second thought, maybe it’s not so unique after all. If you manage the social media for a shoe store, or a delivery service, or a bakery, or a design firm, or a theater, or any number of companies, you don’t have government agencies telling you what you can and can’t post to Facebook, but you also don’t have free license to just post whatever the heck you want. You don’t need a regulatory agency to tell you that posting curse words, tasteless jokes, insensitive posts, misspelled words, and poor grammar to your company’s social networks is a bad idea. All of these can all land you in hot water with your boss, and maybe even the company’s Board of Directors.

But fear not! Whether you work in pharmaceuticals or for a company that has internal, self-imposed social media guidelines, there are steps you can take to make sure your (and your team’s) social media posts are always compliant.

1. First Do No Harm

If it’s good enough for doctors, it’s good enough for your social media marketing! Never, ever post something that has the potential to harm another person. Not only is harming someone else a bad thing (and I do hope we can all agree that harming another person is a bad thing), but it also makes you and your company look pretty bad. Keep this one at the forefront when thinking up your social media messaging.

2. Universal Litmus Test

Okay, so you want to post something funny. And that’s good! People love humor, and funny posts tend to spawn a lot of engagement. Before you post that clever joke, though, make sure it passes the universal litmus test. In other words, is it funny to everyone? Or are some people likely to find it offensive? If the latter is true, you’ll probably want to nix the tweet. (Unless offensive is what you’re going for, in which case, you’ll also need to read this blog post on how to recover from a social media faux pas.)

3. Four Eyes Are Better Than Two

The most difficult work to edit is your own. It can be difficult to catch even obvious misspellings when it’s your own writing, because when you read through your copy, your brain often sees what it expects to see, and not always what’s actually there. Having a second person around to skim your words to make sure they make sense, both logically and grammatically, is always a good idea. (A second pair of eyes can also help you determine whether or not your posts pass the universal litmus test!)

4. When in Doubt, Don’t Post

If you have any misgivings about a post—any misgivings at all—don’t post it. Just don’t do it. If your second pair of eyes has misgivings about a post, and you think it’s fine, get a third opinion. Then get a fourth. Then get a fifth. If you think there is any reason at all why your copy might result in a socially errant post, then for goodness sake, just delete it and start again.

5. Filter Those Keywords

Even if you work in an industry where social media content isn’t strictly regulated, I’m guessing there are some words your company doesn’t want you to put out on the Internet. A lot of them are four-letter words. Others might be overtly negative words about the competition, or misleading words about your product or service. Whatever these words are, you can plug them into Gremln and set them to be filtered. That way, if you or anyone else on your team tries to send a social media message with one of these keywords (because hey, sometimes it happens), Gremln will automatically flag the message and send it to the social media manager for approval or deletion. Crisis averted!

For more information on minimizing your social media marketing problems and taking control of your social campaigns, check out our blog post on overcoming social fear!

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