Social Media and Regulatory Compliance — What Financial Services Professionals Should Know

Posted by Doug Wilber on April 18, 2018

SocialMediaAndCompliance

In light of new regulations and recent media attention, it’s important for banks and financial institutions to brush up on compliance basics and learn how to mitigate legal risks.

A robust social media strategy is essential to helping your bank or financial institution meet its marketing goals, build its brand, and drive measurable results. But perhaps more than any other industry, that strategy has to be executed with caution — especially in the wake of high-profile data breach scandals, the EU’s passage of the GDPR, and financial legislation like the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. Now more than ever, financial institutions need be vigilant about adhering to industry and governmental regulations.

Complying with regulations from FFIEC, FINRA, the SEC, and new legislation can be a real headache, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some important tips for staying compliant while still maximizing the frequency and quality of your social media posts.

Build and Enforce a Company Social Media Policy

FFIEC guidelines require that institutions establish a social media policy, which must detail publishing schedules and approval, monitoring, and enforcement processes. Make sure your social media policy clarifies what uses of social media are appropriate which ones are inappropriate, both from your company accounts and from the personal accounts of your employees.

What constitutes appropriate use? It’s a tricky question: compliance surrounding social media is quite nuanced, as it’s technically both a form of customer communication and advertising simultaneously. A social media policy should therefore be specific and detailed, but easy to follow on a day-to-day basis. Employees should understand how they should interact with the company’s branded pages as opposed to their personal accounts, what can be posted during business hours, and as we’ll cover in greater detail later on, how social posts should be saved and archived. All this is far easier to do if you have a tool in place that effectively enforces your social media policy by building it into the marketing workflow.

Train Employees

Along the same lines, many regulatory bodies recommend developing a structured training program for any and all employees who will be involved in your social media strategy. Training should outline not just how to follow your established social media policy, but how social media relates to consumer legal protections and guidelines for engaging with online audiences.

Additionally, FINRA requires that firms develop employee training procedures to educate all organization members on the difference between business and non-business communications. It’s an organization’s responsibility to address any “red flags” that might indicate employees aren’t adhering to regulations.

Filter Your Content in Advance

Posts with erroneous details or sensitive proprietary information can cause major compliance trouble for banks and financial institutions. Consider using a filtering software like the Content Filtering tool on Gremlin Social Guardian to prohibit the use of specific keywords or phrases that may violate regulations. Further, brands must note that their content is subject to the Truth in Savings Act, which prohibits certain types of misleading and false advertising, and requires disclosure of specific information relating to bonuses, APYs, and other subjects.

Implement a Strong Approval and Monitoring Processes

Regulatory bodies like FINRA demand that organizations develop a consistent oversight process to approve, monitor, and audit all social media activity, including anything created and published by third parties. Your social media policy should explicitly set up a workflow that matched your company’s structure, ensuring that no post on any platform goes up without approval from a qualified party.

Beyond being a good step to ensure compliance, an approval process also helps to ensure quality posts. It never hurts to have another member of your organization fact-checking, editing for spelling or grammar errors, and generally making sure your content is the best it can be.

Archive Everything

The FFIEC and FINRA both have archiving requirements, and if your institution is audited for a suspected violation, these agencies will expect you to produce detailed records of the posts being investigated. Recordkeeping policies should therefore be a fundamental part of any firm’s social media training.

Choose the Best Compliance Partner

Building all of these considerations into a social media process that needs to be firing off posts across multiple platforms several times a day can seem impossible. But while banks face unique obstacles to social media success, they also have access to uniquely powerful tools that can check their posts for compliance, easily establish an approval workflow that matches their company’s structure, and archive any and all social media activity.

With the industry-leading Social Guardian, the only social media tool approved and sponsored by the ABA, you can rest assured that all your content is filtered in advance, scheduled for release in accordance with your customized timeline, and archived for easy access whenever you need it. If you’re looking for both the knowledge you need to navigate regulations and the tools you need to meet them, there’s no better partner than Gremlin Social.

Topics: social media management and compliance

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