Social media has become a fundamental tool for brand marketing. Social media marketing presents an opportunity for businesses to increase brand awareness and customer engagement, as well as to find new customers and markets.
However, there are some potential pitfalls. The potential for reputational damage is high, and the penalties for getting it wrong can be severe.
The importance of social media compliance policy
Creating regulations and compliance documents may seem to be a daunting task, but it might be an expensive area to overlook.
A solid, up-to-date policy does more than simply reduce risk; it also sets your employees up for success by providing clear guidelines on how, when, and where to publish postings, as well as etiquette on how and when to begin discussions. And, of course, it may assist your organization in resolving any legal or security difficulties.
Businesses are understandably concerned about a possible communication problem, or worse, an employee breaking the laws of social media compliance. So, it’s essential to develop a reputational protection strategy to minimize the risk of reputational damage.
Social media compliance risks that could hurt your brand
Social media risks are rapidly growing, and the breadth of the dangers linked with social media has expanded. Unauthorized disclosures, cyber attacks, and the unintended leaking of personal information are just a few of the hazards that businesses face when they use social media platforms.
Let’s go through some of the most significant social media compliance risks and how to prevent them.
Maintaining data confidentiality
Data confidentiality is critical to social media compliance. Unauthorized disclosure of sensitive material may have legal, regulatory, and reputational consequences.
Various forms of information might be deemed secret in different sectors. Sharing this material on social media is not only inappropriate, but it is often illegal.
This is especially true for highly regulated industries such as healthcare, where any form of personal information, such as social insurance numbers, credit information, or medical history, must be protected against disclosure.
Data security and privacy threats
While the goals of privacy and data security regulations differ by sector, they ultimately have the same end objective in mind. To begin with, they want to restrict the number of individuals who may be contacted by marketers. Second, they specify how marketers collect and keep data. Finally, they ensure that customers understand how their data is stored and utilized.
Data privacy regulations might differ not just by industry, but also by region. However, the fundamental ideas are the same. Unsolicited communications from online marketers should be avoided. When they acquire and maintain personal data, they must notify consumers. They must also guarantee that personal data is kept safe and ethically used.
The GDPR is especially stringent when it comes to how marketers use personal information. These guidelines also specify what you should tell individuals when acquiring data. Examples include cookies and other techniques.
With so many various rules and regulations to keep track of, compliance may look tough to achieve. Noncompliance, on the other hand, has far-reaching consequences that should not be underestimated. Noncompliance may lead to expensive and time-consuming litigation, with consequences ranging from substantial fines to legal holds.
Access to data
Accessibility criteria, in general, strive to guarantee that vital information is readily accessible upon request. Whether it’s an eDiscovery request or a subject access request, your organization has to be ready to react fast.
For example, HIPAA compliance requires hospitals, physicians, nurses, and other healthcare workers to properly retain sensitive patient information. Companies that handle personal information, such as banks and credit bureaus, are also required to adhere to stringent archiving laws. They must protect sensitive data so that only authorized individuals have access to it.
If social media compliance is part of your marketing plan, you must understand the standards that apply to your industry. To make compliance easier, implement a social media archiving system. This ensures that all material is preserved correctly, securely, and immediately accessible.
Keep in mind that social media compliance is an ongoing process. As your firm expands and laws change, you may need to apply new rules and regulations.
Influencers, endorsements, and claims
Those who operate in regulated industries are particularly vulnerable to social media compliance problems. However, all social marketers must follow marketing and advertising rules established by organizations such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
The Food and Drug Administration, in particular, checks food, beverage, and supplement claims. The Federal Trade Commission investigates testimonials and recommendations on a regular basis. The word “influencer” is widely used to characterize this in the social world.
Any claim that makes a product seem to be better than it is may result in legal action. Any endorsement that is not properly declared might potentially cause issues.
How to stay compliant and avoid reputational damage
Understand the rules and regulations.
The first step in ensuring legal compliance is determining your law of reference and which legislations apply to your business.
You must not only adhere to the laws of the nation in which you are headquartered, but also to the laws of the country in which your target audience resides.
Assume your firm is situated in the US, but you wish to sell to the German market: you must adhere to both countries’ legislation.
Once you’ve determined your legal framework, you should investigate what is really needed, both by law and by third companies you work with, such as Google, Facebook, and Instagram, which may impose extra constraints.
Furthermore, if you want to take your business to Facebook while remaining compliant with their policies, you must not only link to your own policy but also disclose how you’re processing users’ data, specify what data is being collected and for what purpose, inform users of their rights, and disclose the third parties who have access to their data.
As previously said, privacy rules are very important when it comes to third-party applications and services, such as social networking apps. But what about consent? What does this imply for social media compliance?
One of the most important prerequisites for compliance with data privacy laws and third-party rules is consent. Giving your customers the option to opt-in or opt-out may also be needed, depending on the applicable legislation.
Under the CCPA, users have the ability to opt out at any time (California Consumer Privacy Act). Facebook’s Limited Data Use policy is an example of CCPA compliance: the site automatically detects California-based users and restricts how your Facebook Pixel operates for them, possibly affecting the efficacy of your social media activities.
As a result, you should employ a consent management system to keep track of all the consents you’ve collected. Your consent management solution should particularly support Facebook’s restricted data usage policy, allowing you to limit Facebook’s advertising limitations to individuals in California who have previously opted out.
Keep records and archives
All of your social media material should be archived as part of your social media compliance strategy. A cloud-based social media archiving solution enables you to comply with requirements that demand data preservation for a certain period of time.
Archiving solutions enable you to keep your data intact and process it in a controlled environment, while also maintaining its accessibility and usefulness. They also enable you to retain data over extended periods of time while still making it accessible for review and analysis.
You may use archiving solutions to:
- Automate the archiving process
- Keep data in its original state, including metadata.
- Data may be easily retrieved.
- Data may be searched using keywords.
- Establish retention policies.
- Implement routines for retention and deletion.
- Assign roles and permissions.
- Reports and analytics should be provided.
- Make no recommendations or endorsements.
This may seem obvious, but one of the finest pieces of social media compliance advice is to refrain from making recommendations and endorsements. Don’t provide direct advice or advertise any companies or services in public.
The idea is to provide educational information rather than directional stuff. Create a genuine online presence, engage with your followers, identify new prospects, and give valuable content to your audience through social media.
You should never offer someone advice without first knowing about their history, especially in highly regulated professions like healthcare or finance, and the same guideline applies to social media.
If you believe someone may misunderstand a tweet or a Facebook status as direct advice on what they should do, don’t post about it.
Always include disclaimers
A one-sentence disclaimer on your social pages is not a terrible idea. Find the channel’s proper terminology and utilize it in your “About” section or the headline that contains your information.
Disclaimers allow you to clarify potential misconceptions, such as when a viewpoint seems to be excessively opinionated or too personal.
Social media compliance is essential for brand reputation and data security. However, it can also be difficult to maintain, especially if you’re facing multiple compliance regulations.
By understanding your legal requirements, implementing a suitable archiving system, and leveraging best practices, you can minimize your compliance risk and protect your brand from reputational damage.
Alex is a passionate tech blogger, internet nerd, and data enthusiast. He is interested in topics that cover data regulation, compliance, eDiscovery, information governance and business communication