11 Apr 2017

For many years certain industries have hidden behind regulation as an excuse for not engaging with their digital audience. That has changed in the last few years, with companies in the most heavily regulated industries waking up to the reality of the digital world in which they operate. With more than half of the world’s population now online (over 3.7 billion users globally), social media is a necessary tool to engage with stakeholders, achieve reputational gains and improve transparency and trust across all industries. No company can afford to not be online.

Industries like healthcare, pharmaceuticals and financial services are regulated by governing bodies that are responsible for outlining and enforcing codes of conduct for their industry, including provisions on how companies can communicate on social media. Though these regulations may seem daunting and do require considered actions, they should not stop regulated industries from achieving a successful and engaging social media presence.

With these regulations in place, the question becomes, how do you stay compliant on social media in a regulated industry, yet use it to its full potential? We have brought together our top six tips and considerations for organisations looking to navigate this question.

Know the rules: Familiarise  yourself with the regulations of your industry and ensure that you check more than one regulatory source. This is especially important if you are a global company as regulations may vary across borders.

Set the rules: Ensure you have a social media policy for both your company’s communications, as well as social use by your employees. To stay compliant, your employees need to be informed and understand the influence of these regulations on both their professional and personal social media presence.

Get a team together: Educate your executive team about the importance of social media and assemble a dedicated team with representatives from across the business. Social media is a fast moving game and it is important to assess whether your management structure supports this fast paced environment. For example, if social posts require legal approval before being posted, ensure that a member of the legal department is part of the team, enabling posts to be approved as quickly as possible.

Have a game plan: From the start, define your social media strategy, including your goals, key content themes, content and escalation plan. The easiest way to stay compliant is to plan ahead and take the time to reference regulations and ensure you are following best practice.

Be channel smart: Consider which social platforms you are going to use and whether the ones selected offer the appropriate moderation tools needed to stay compliant. For example, the ability to delete comments or reply to users.

Look inwards: Your employees are your greatest advocates and should be seen as key resources to include in your social media approach. Major organisations, such as Goldman Sachs, have recognised this and launched social campaigns centred around their employees, life at the company and the work that employees do.

For organisations working in a regulated industry social media presents the continuing challenge to remain compliant whilst being relevant in a digitally charged world. However, if your organisation takes the time to consider best practice and formulate careful plans then social media can be a force for good.