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To infinity and beyond - new guidelines recognise the importance of expert advice.

14 August 2014 | 09:00 am

Further to last week’s blog (New FCA guidelines on social media marketing highlights the need for effective planning), it was pleasing to see that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) social media guidelines which were released last week, offer a distinctly pragmatic approach to the use of social media which encourages organisations to seek expert advice when it comes to managing social media output.

Having read through the FCA’s guidelines, it represents a common sense approach for organisations to ensure their use of social media does not transgress regulatory guidelines. As such it is a welcome addition to what is an ever-expanding compendium of advice for marketers seeking to exploit the seemingly infinite possibilities that social media offers.

Unfortunately, the rapidly evolving nature of social media can mean that almost as soon as guidelines such as these are published, things have moved on so much they have been rendered redundant. Another issue is that they can only offer guidance, whereas the real issue for many organisations is how to implement best practice in an arena where even the most talented and media savvy marketer can find monitoring and compliance fraught with difficulty.

The answer for many has been to build in good practice by deploying purpose built technology in order to monitor and evaluate social media activity. Many leading organisations have taken this option - particularly those where the nature of their operational remit means any slip up could be not only damaging to themselves but also extremely costly to their customers. As individuals we entrust virtually all of our sensitive personal information to third party organisations that in turn are becoming ever more dependent on digital and social media platforms to conduct their business. Perhaps it is no surprise then that more and more banks and public sector bodies for example, are relying on sophisticated technology to successfully monitor their social media activities.

The FCA’s guidelines highlight a number of means by which organisations can enhance good practice and ensure its social media activity does not flout regulatory guidelines.

The use of moderation for example: “We remind firms of their obligations to have an adequate system in place to sign off digital media communications.” (FCA guidelines, 2.23), and the use of adequate recording systems: “Firms should also keep adequate records of any significant communications. As well as helping to protect consumers, these records enable the firm to deal effectively with any subsequent claims or complaints.” (FCA guidelines, 2.24).

The fact is, such recommendations reflect good practice not just for the financial services sector but for organisations across the board. And deploying software to take up the burden would appear to offer a reasonable solution for organisations that not only deal with sensitive personal data, but are having to respond to an ever expanding horizon of social activity which may well stretch to multiple Twitter accounts, a large Facebook presence and LinkedIn for the majority of employees.

One thing is for certain, social media is clearly not a fad and boardrooms across the globe recognise the need to embrace a medium which, according to the latest figures has the potential to reach 255 million active Twitter users (sending out over 500 million tweets every day) and more than 50 million global Facebook pages. But as this realisation has grown, so a growing recognition that simply having a social media presence is only half the story.

Like any area of business, balances, checks and monitoring is key, and just as in other areas of business, if there are tools out there which can enhance your good practice – and also increase your ROI, then surely it is only good practice to use them.


FCA Guidelines

New FCA guidelines on social media marketing highlights the need for effective planning

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