Banks, credit unions and financial institutions of all sizes are now making social media an integral part of their marketing strategies. While some of this is defensive, most now recognize that a smart social media strategy can strengthen an organization’s brand, promote its products and build superior customer relationships.
The challenge facing financial institutions is that their social media efforts are subject to increasing regulatory oversight. In response, it is essential to develop comprehensive policies and procedures to assure that the company and their employees are complying with applicable regulations.
The oversight concerns associated with social media are significant, and guidance released by the FFIEC (Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council) in late 2013 touches on many of these issues. For example, postings that reply to customer queries need to comply with the same disclosures applicable to email or print mail communications. Postings that advertise products or rates have similar requirements and much have compliance language associated with them. The guidance even recommends that risk management measures be taken to protect the institution from lawsuits. This regulatory background points up the need for a written document to provide employees with positive, precise direction – a company-wide social media policy template.
Additionally, regulatory concerns are not the only reason why a social media policy template is necessary. Banks, credit unions and financial institutions need to protect their brand and keep their brand voice consistent across digital mediums as they do on print mediums. Not having a cohesive brand and messaging ends up hurting your company as well as decreasing the ROI on your social media efforts. Customers want to feel important, like they are being heard, and responded to with professional yet personal messaging, which leads to higher social engagement and higher customer retention.
A good social media policy template should include:
- How the organization will monitor the social media space.
- The approved social platforms (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) for social media outreach.
- Which employees are responsible for social media presence, monitoring and response.
- Rules, guidelines and templates for communication.
- Explicit rules for other employees on their use of social media.
- Regulations applicable to social media activities (e.g. Regulation Z of the Truth in Lending Act).
- When to solicit management, compliance and/or legal review.
More than a rulebook, the social media policy template can also support the institution’s overall brand strategy. It should outline how social media will be used to build awareness and identity; give direction on when and how to respond to negative social media postings; and describe how the institution’s posts and replies should maintain a consistent, professional and positive tone. Social media monitoring and reporting can also be used to ensure the policy is successful and that users are engaging with your social content.
The best social use templates combine close attention to regulatory needs, strict guidelines on employee use, and smart branding and communications strategy. The result is a tool that can expand an institution’s social media footprint while maintaining compliance with financial oversight requirements.
If you want to prove why social media, implementing a strict social template, and monitoring activity and engagement are important to your boss, download our free eBook now!