While businesses would do well to incorporate social media practices into their marketing and customer service strategies, compliance is always going to be a concern. Financial companies bear a particular burden when considering how to incorporate social networking into their work environments. Regulators find it also increasingly difficult to devise comprehensive rules for social networking compliance as the landscape of Internet media is a swiftly changing one. But the Financial Conduct Authority in the United Kingdom has been working on regulations that have been praised for their clarity by those in the web media industry. Hard guidelines are expected to be issued very soon.
FT Advisor notes that the FCA is an active participant in social media as well, and that it has asked for feedback from users as to how it can better its social media strategy, so the regulatory body is no stranger to the important effect that social media can have on businesses. FT Advisor quotes Martin Bamford of Informed Choice, a financial advice company:
“Some adviser firms, particularly large networks and nationals, have applied a very strange interpretation of the FCA guidance on social media. If you treat social media like any other interaction with members of the public, you remain compliant with no need for draconian restrictions on its use. I suspect what large firms really fear from social media is their advisers becoming softer targets to recruiters, or delivering messages which are somehow inconsistent with corporate strategy.”
Of course, despite growing regulations and the well-publicized benefits of social media use in the enterprise sector, executives are still wary of the risks. InsideCounsel’s Amanda Ciccatelli reports that 71 percent of executives polled by the Grant Thornton advisory firm said that their companies have concerns about the use of social media, and that 36 percent reported having social media training. Concerns fall into four categories: damage to brand reputation, disclosure of proprietary and/or confidential information, corporate identity theft, and legal/regulatory and compliance violations.
Hopefully, over time, regulations and executive expectations meet somewhere in the middle so that proper compliance can coincide with business expectations.