Editor’s note: Until the end of 2018, we will be revisiting the top five blog posts of 2018. The first post is from Claudio Pannunzio and it is the very definition of an oldie but goodie. This post originally appeared in 2012 but continues to be one of our most-viewed posts every year since. This year, it claimed the No. 1 spot on the most popular blog posts of 2018. See this evergreen post on the eight components of a social media policy for your financial planning firm.
Engaging in social media activities can be a wise and rewarding decision for a large number of advisers. However, many issues need to be addressed prior to deploying a social media communications strategy. One of the most important issues is implementing a sound social media policy that provides a blueprint for interaction and establishes clear rules to ensure proper adherence to compliance.
The goals of a social media policy are straightforward:
- Establish rules and procedures for all users when using social media sites
- Facilitate users’ understanding of their responsibilities when engaging in online communication
- Promote and maintain compliance within all FINRA, SEC and other applicable rules
Let’s now have a look at some of the basic components you should consider when creating a social media policy for your practice:
State why your firm is engaging in social media and the scope for putting in place a policy governing its use. This will help everybody in your organization attain a solid understanding of the reasons behind the firm’s social media engagement.
Define what you and your firm regard as social media and how your firm will leverage the various social media platforms to communicate with its external audiences.
Determine the professionals authorized to contribute to social media sites on behalf of your firm, specify what activities these individuals should be engaged in and establish who will be in charge of monitoring their activities.
Define the professionals responsible for creating and selecting social media content and establish posting guidelines and schedules.
The information you will provide via social media platforms is of critical importance. Clearly spell out the type of information that can and cannot be divulged via social media, unmistakably emphasizing what is considered proprietary or confidential information.
6. Employee Conduct
Establishing a code of conduct will help you achieve two strategic goals:
- ensure that communication is consistently transparent, ethical, accurate and adheres to compliance rules; and
- prevent employees in their personal social media interactions from inadvertently or casually stating their affiliation to your firm without your formal approval, knowledge and control.
7. Communication Risks
Establish general guidelines and best practices for the different platforms your firm is planning to use, referring to the FINRA and SEC compliance regulations. Create a list of subjects that should never be discussed and/or posted on social media, such as confidential information, financial details, legal matters and proceedings, as well as libelous or defamatory information, obscene images/content, information infringing third party’s intellectual property rights, copyrights or trademarks.
8. Negative Comments Protocol
We strongly recommend to all our adviser clients to develop a well-defined protocol on how to handle a third party’s negative posts/comments on social media platforms. These can include tactics such as acknowledging the negative comment and offering a solution; immediately deleting inappropriate comments of threatening, profane or obscene nature; or setting up social media accounts to not allow any posts/comments.