Social media compliance is the work of assuring that your company’s social media accounts and the accounts of your employees meet both your own brand standards and the protocols for your industry. This process will look different for each company, depending on your industry and the degree to which you use social media platforms. Keep reading to learn more about the importance of social media compliance and how you can create a strong social media program at your organization.

Why is social media compliance important? 

Social media compliance is incredibly beneficial to any organization. It can aid in reputation management and help protect your company from negative mentions. It can also help you find and shut down any spoof accounts or deliberate misinformation that is being spread in your company’s name. 

Social media compliance also assures that your social media presence will not trigger compliance violations for any industry-based standards, and this is often the most critical benefit of a social media compliance program. Heavily regulated industries such as healthcare or financial services come under strict scrutiny in all areas, including social media use. 

Violations of regulatory compliance standards can result in hefty fines or prevent you from doing business altogether. The world of social media shifts so frequently that it can be difficult to stay on top of what is expected of you. A strong social media compliance program will help you stay abreast of these changes and ensure that your online footprint is within bounds. 

How does a social media compliance program work?

An effective social media compliance program will examine the laws and regulations in your industry and assure that the social media use connected to your company is not causing any violations. 

Your program should look carefully at several key areas:

  • How does your social media presence affect privacy? Create policies and controls that will prevent the loss of your customers’ personal information. 
  • Are your accounts (and those of your employees) representing the company accurately? It is important that the messaging from your accounts and those of your staff are appropriate to your overall branding. If you’re working with influencers, make sure their contracts specify the terms of their agreements and the requirements for their posts. 
  • How does your company protect user confidentiality? Casually sharing other user’s mentions of your brand can potentially be a violation, so make sure to have policies about confidentiality in place. 
  • Is your company subject to any requirements for archives or access? For example, a government agency isn’t permitted to block other users and is typically required to keep an archive of any posts your organization makes. 
  • What are your acceptable use policies for your employees? Sites like LinkedIn make it easy to trace your employees back to you. While your staff may not speak for the company officially, their social media presence can have an effect on the way your company is perceived online. It’s a good idea to have a structured acceptable use policy and guidelines for employees on their personal accounts. 

What’s the difference between social media guidelines and social media policy?

Guidelines are only suggestions; policies are meant to be enforced. 

Does your company need a social media policy? The answer is yes. Regardless of how your company uses social media, virtually every organization needs to establish an online presence. With that presence comes the need for detailed policies that outline how your company will use its own accounts and what’s expected from your staff on their own personal pages. 

Depending on your industry, you may have an official framework to help you structure your compliance efforts. Medical and financial institutions will be subject to more strict rules than say, a small online retailer. While these additional layers of requirements may seem complicated, the expectations from regulators such as the Federal Trade Commission or FINRA (the regulator of broker-dealer firms) can shape your thinking about what is or isn’t appropriate for your company’s social presence. 

It’s also important to understand that your policy might change over time. The internet moves quickly, and the social networks you use can change their own policies and platforms often — sometimes with little to no warning. You can assure that your company’s social media policy is both up-to-date and understood by your staff with regular compliance training and seminars. 

What Do You Need for a Social Media Compliance Audit?

Your risk management program should include a social media compliance audit to determine what risks you might be facing. Consider asking these questions before beginning your audit:

  • What social media channels are you using, and what are the account names and passwords?
  • Which employees have access to which of your social media accounts? Or to the data generated by those accounts?
  • What compliance requirements apply to your industry? What are the ways that social media can cause violations of those regulations? Make sure that your compliance team is aware of these potential risks, and that they’re able to work in tandem with your social media team. 
  • What is your social media marketing strategy? What risks might arise from the pursuit of your overall goals for your accounts? 
  • How are you archiving your posts? 
  • What metrics will you use to determine the success of your compliance program? 

Creating a social media compliance program may seem overwhelming, but ZenGRC can help.

ZenGRC’s easy-to-navigate platform allows you to streamline your workflow and track risk across departments, which frees up more time to concentrate on your company’s goals. Schedule a demo today and learn how ZenGRC can take you out of your spreadsheets and into the 21st century.