Most people have a social media presence of some kind now and that goes for financial services as well. Plenty of firms and advisers have profiles across many of the most popular social platforms and use these to interact with their peers, existing clients and potential clients and, in some cases, the media.
The rate at which Twitter use has grown in the UK is just one element of the opportunity it presents to organisations for brand awareness. Here will look at 10 key points when using twitter in financial services.
- Create a Clear Social Media Policy
Who can post on your firm’s behalf? What can they say? What kind of content are you going to post, and how often? What are the firm’s messages on key topics? A clear policy means everyone knows what is expected and what is allowed.
- Train Employees
Twitter has been hailed as one of the true social media networks, meaning it is genuinely one giant public conversation. Twitter remains incredibly relevant for both B2C and B2B businesses and it is important that employees understand what is expected of them inline with the firms Social Media Policy, for example:What the ground rules are – the major do’s and don’ts about tweeting and regulatory implications.
- Follow up and Re-Educate any Employee that Breaks the Policy
Reiterate the need for a defined approach to social media. Ensure everyone understands – and don’t be afraid to restrict access to your social media accounts if need be.
- Only Publish Content That is Fair, Clear and Not Misleading
You should take the same approach to social media as you do to any other financial promotion. It needs to meet the FCA’s criteria of being ‘fair, clear and not misleading’, however character-limited it is. This may mean you need to use social media to direct people to more detailed information on your website, rather than relying on a tweet or post alone to convey your message.
- Approve Financial Promotions Before Publishing
The FCA’s approach is ‘media-neutral’ – meaning they expect the same level of approvals documentation and evidence for social media as they do for brochures or other marketing materials. Just because it’s online doesn’t make it exempt from the compliance approvals process.
- Ensure Content is Standalone Compliant
Anything published on social media should be compliant in its own right. This isn’t always easy in 140 characters, so you need to think carefully about what you say (and consider whether Twitter is the best medium for your message).
- Any Tweet That is a Financial Promotion Should Include #Ad
This useful shorthand makes it clear when you are using twitter for financial promotions. It also makes it easier for anyone (including the FCA!) to search for financial promotions on Twitter – another good reason to make sure they’re compliant.
- A Twitter Message is Classified as Non-Real Time
The FCA’s rules on ‘real-time promotions’ (for example, conversations with clients) are different, taking into account the fact that they cannot be pre-determined. The usual approvals requirements therefore don’t apply.
This is not the case with Twitter, which the FCA has deemed ‘non-real time’, and therefore has to meet the usual approvals criteria.
- All Twitter Messages Including Responses
Documenting financial promotions, and their approvals process, is vital to meeting the FCA’s requirements. The seemingly transient nature of social media often means people forget that they need to archive tweets as they would other marketing communications.
- Images Can be Used to Overcome Character Limitations e.g. a Picture of Fiver-Year Performance Chart
A picture paints a thousand words, and nowhere more so than on Twitter, where infographics, images and charts can be used very effectively to convey a complex message. Don’t forget that any imagery will still need compliance approval in the same way as a written tweet.
- Need some help?
Need some promotional advice? If you want to understand more about how to make sure your marketing materials meet FCA standards, please click here.
The Compliance workload shows no signs of decreasing. An ever-growing list of requirements and regulatory changes makes the compliance role harder than ever.
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