Ensuring Business Social Media Compliance
Companies are increasingly relying on social media to not only reach potential customers and spread brand awareness, but also communicate with their existing clients.
In fact, social media benefits are plentiful for both small companies and large enterprises. During the COVID-19 pandemic, social media has helped brands talk to their consumers, better understand their needs, and change their operations/services accordingly.
Despite their real-time nature and the ease of communication though, social media needs to be taken seriously, especially in a business setting. As the social media landscape changes, so does the regulatory landscape.
This means that there are now numerous laws and bylaws that impose stringent requirements on companies using social media in their day-to-day operation.
In fact, these laws, including FINRA, HIPAA, SEC, or FTC regulations, regard social media communication as official business records and so needs to be preserved accordingly, in formats and for various retention periods. Be it posts, comments, gifs, emojis, tweets, voice messages, or video, all this communication needs to be properly preserved.
This means that companies that don’t capture and archive communication that goes on social media are facing hefty fines. According to the latest FINRA annual report, companies were fined $81 million for not complying with FINRA requirements. And under the CCPA (similar to GDPR in what it aims to regulate), each violation can cost $2,500. As for HIPAA, which regulates healthcare records management, non-compliance fines can go up to $50,000. So there’s a lot at stake for failing to comply with these requirements.
In order to reduce the risk of non-compliance, companies need to take a systemic approach to their social media management. This means setting in place a system that would cover various aspects of social media and how they are used across the board. So here are the most essential parts that you need to consider:
- Social media policy
- Social media monitoring
- Social media archiving
Start with a comprehensive, clear social media policy
Driven by the potential of social media, businesses tend to dive head-first into the world of online platforms, opening up official accounts anywhere from Pinterest to Facebook, to TikTok and Twitter. Sometimes, even if there’s no one who would be interested in engaging with their business on that particular channel.
This happens because there is no clear idea about what the business wants to achieve, how they’re going to measure their success, or who’s going to be involved in the process.
This is not only ineffective, but also leaves the company susceptible to non-compliance. Each new channel is a new venue that needs to be monitored, where communication needs to be properly audited, captured and stored. So, if your target audience doesn’t use a channel such as Facebook to interact with your type of business, perhaps it’s best you invest your resources elsewhere.
So, what does a clear social media policy mean?
First, you need to understand what you’re trying to achieve. Define your goals, define the metrics you want to monitor. Then tailor your content, its voice and tone to your audience.
Before you start engaging with your followers, you need to create a clear list of do’s and don’ts.
Everyone involved with your business on social media needs to know at all times which information can be shared and when. Again, all the comments, reactions, emojis and variations thereof are official business records. If it comes to a legal proceeding, or if there’s an eDiscovery request sent your way, even the most frivolous of actions on social media will come under scrutiny.
Once you have a clear understanding of responsibilities, it gets a lot easier. Still, there’s a long way to go to make sure you’re fully compliant. The next step is proper monitoring and archiving of social media.
Monitor all social media channels at all times
Often the biggest challenge of using social media in a corporate setting is the volume of data generated. Then there are the varying formats. It’s impossible to manually track and reproduce all the communication going on. So, to make sure you can keep up with legal requirements, you need to automate your social media automatically.
Now, social media monitoring is helpful not just in keeping track of how well your brand fares on social media. It also can help you identify workplace harassment, ill-intended conversations, or potential scams.
By relying on monitoring tools, you are ensuring that you have the right information on time, before any potential incident takes place. This can easily be done through keyword list functionalities which let you define a set of words so that you get notified when they’re used on your accounts or in interaction with it. So, you will be able to stop harassment timely and protect not just your employees, but your brand and its reputation.
Preserve social media with metadata
Regulations that govern social media also require that your business preserve business records in an unalterable form, with appropriate metadata. This helps bring veracity to the legal proceedings and can also help you protect your business.
If there’s clear evidence of who posted which content, how communication went between employees and customers, or between employees themselves, it’s easy to determine the line of responsibility and helps paint a clear picture of what went wrong. And even better, you can use the captured and preserved social media communication internally, so that your own compliance officers can be warned against any unlawful activities going on within the company.
All of this will help you achieve compliance with relevant records management laws in your industry, but also protect your brand and reputation.