How Financial Services Can Engage in Social Media

Social media and financial servicesSocial media is not really regulated, except in certain industries, such as Financial Services Industry. Some of the challenges the Financial Services Industry are faced with in order to be compliant are regulations, privacy, resources and creating relevant content.

FINRA (pronounced FIN-Rah) is the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and they first rolled out regulatory rules around social media in January 2010 and amended them in August 2011. FINRA considers social media to be treated as a Public Appearance and inevitably most posts on social outlets, once they become static, are considered advertising. In addition, they need to keep copies of all correspondence to and from people they engage with for a three years. Also companies that engage in social media are responsible for the links they post about third party sites if it means they are endorsing the content in any way. The scrutiny around these rules make creating relevant, social content a challenge for firms engaging in social media.

The biggest hurdle that financial service firms face is the “recordkeeping” (archiving the conversations on the web). If the content of the communication is a business communication they need to keep it not only for three years, but the first two must be easily accessible.  In large, it seems that archiving the data is a pain, but it can be done on Google+ and Twitter. Facebook is a bit tougher to archive.

What are companies doing? They’re developing social media communications policies. This is great as long as they are not structured around a specific platform or functionality of a specific network, because the social graph changes on a dime.

What can they do?

  1. They can listen. By listening to customers online they can adapt their product offerings and help.
  2. They can develop a social media policy about what you’re NOT allowed to do, rather than what you can do, making it easier to follow.
  3. They can invest in robust training and education for their employees to make sure they understand the tools and the impact of their social actions online.
  4. They need to archive and monitor everything they put out on social media because they may need it some day.
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About Tracy Sestili

Tracy Sestili is CEO and Chief blogger at Social Strand Media. She is also the author of Taking Your Brand from the Bench to the Playing Field -- Social Media Fundamentals for Business.


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