• Social Media

A Comprehensive Guide to Social Media Compliance for 2023

  • Jenna Bunnell
  • 6 min read
A Comprehensive Guide to Social Media Compliance for 2023

Intro

In 2021, 91.9% of businesses expected marketing staff to utilize social media. It’s almost impossible for businesses today to survive without a social media presence. It’s a vital, instant form of 2-way communication that enables contact with customers and prospects and can accelerate business growth.

This increase in social media use has inevitably led to more stringent rules and regulations. Therefore, marketers must know what they’re doing and work hard to avoid risks that may land them in hot water.

Social media compliance in simple terms means following the rules when using a social media platform to communicate. However, there’s more to it. There’s a complex mix of platform rules, industry regulations, and local laws to adhere to.

What are the risks associated with failing to comply?

Breaching social media compliance can mean reputational damage, regulatory fines or personal risk for businesses. Depending on industry type and location, the risks can vary but broadly speaking, they fall into the following categories:

Data protection and privacy

It’s vital you make yourself aware of data protection and privacy laws in the countries and regions your customers are based. There are many common overlaps, which include the secure storage of personal data, restrictions on unsolicited messaging, and letting customers know where and how their data will be stored and used.

Confidentiality

Marketers need to understand the regulations on confidentiality in their industry. When working with the education sector, finance sector or the healthcare field there will be strict rules on this. Regulated industries should have a strict, in-house, social media policy.

Marketing rules

Laws regarding food, drugs, alcohol, and tobacco can mean marketers should tread carefully when posting about these items. In addition, with the increase in ‘fake news’, claims that are proven to be untrue may also pose a risk to marketers. Social media marketing surrounding weight-loss pills, fake influencer endorsements, and COVID-19 can end up under investigation.

Access and archiving

If you’re in a regulated industry, it’s important you archive all communication for legal reasons. In some countries, the accounts of government officials and departments cannot block even the most problematic of users as it’s deemed to violate free speech laws.

What about the risks to you?

It’s also essential to protect yourself online. Details such as your telephone number that are made public for your customers can also be seen by scammers and spammers. Make sure you have protection in place, like a customizable caller ID system, to detect such incoming calls.

Because there’s a connection between social media and a call to action, calls can be linked back to social media and any risks associated with social media can soon transfer. That’s why phone call monitoring is important.

Is it best to steer clear of social media altogether?

Not at all. Social media is a great tool for driving people to your website. If you work to boost your social media SEO, you can really drive traffic in the right direction. If your website is well optimized too, it can be a two-way relationship.

This is where you might consider a website auditing tool. It is, however, crucial to stay ahead of the game and keep reviewing and monitoring compliance.

Is it best to steer clear of social media altogether? (Screenshot taken from ranktracker.com)

What’s coming in 2023

As we’ve said, social media is still a great way to attract and communicate with clients/potential clients. To plan your compliance strategy ahead, it’s key to know what changes we’ll expect to see in social media next year.

  1. Goodbye cookies

2023 is set to see the end of the cookie. While many users welcome this, there are concerns about advertising and how it will work afterward. With this in mind, you should start building real relationships with customers now instead of relying on cookies.

Build positive relationships and email lists to plan ahead of any changes this might mean in terms of regulations and compliance.

  1. 2023 will see an increase in demand for honesty and integrity. Governments are under pressure to clamp down on mistruths so if you rely on fake news or phony testimonials, now is the time to change.
  2. Decentralized social media platforms. This may pose a challenge for centrally owned, social media sites (or the big players in social media). Traditionally the owner of the social media company has called the shots, but 2023 will see the smaller, decentralized social media platforms putting the user in a more powerful position.

This could force older, larger companies to take into account customer wants and needs and may lead to new rules.

How to maintain compliance on social media

How to maintain compliance on social media (Free to use image sourced from Pexels)

Conduct a risk assessment

Whilst a risk assessment won’t prevent every eventuality, it will help you predict what may happen, the risks to your business, and what you can do to pre-empt and mitigate them.

Understand your industry regulations.

Larger regulated industries will likely have in-house compliance experts and should be able to answer any questions on compliance so it’s important that marketing teams work closely with compliance experts.

Control who can access social media accounts

Keeping control of who can access and post on your business social media accounts is an important part of maintaining compliance. Team members need the right training to access social media and it may be the case that a senior team leader will review all media before they’re posted to ensure quality, accuracy, and of course compliance. Giving the password to multiple team members creates the unnecessary risk of accidental or malicious breaches.

Software to help you manage all social media in one place can help with this. A ticket assignment system can be used so queries can be sent to the correct team moderator.

Monitor accounts

Depending on your industry, this could mean responding to comments and direct messages within a certain timeframe. It may be the case that you have a duty to report comments to a regulatory or governing body. You may even be liable for comments left by others if they are misleading. For example, accepting a fake testimonial and leaving it on your social media page whilst knowing that it is misleading the public.

Keep an eye out for copycat sites. These could be imposter sites set up to glean your followers, fan sites not intended to be malicious, or sites that intend to cause harm. In any event, a copycat site can intentionally or unintentionally breach compliance and damage your reputation.

Ensure any freelance or outside agencies such as salespeople don’t make exaggerated or false claims on your social media accounts. External agencies must be informed of any regulations your industry needs to adhere to.

Archive everything

You must archive all social media communications if you operate in a regulated industry. You can buy specialist software such as an automated social media compliance checker to do this for you.

Keep staff training regular and up-to-date

To keep users engaged, social media features are updated all the time, and therefore so are regulations. What was acceptable last year may no longer be so it’s important to stay abreast of any changes.

The biggest change expected in 2023 is the growth of AI. Auto captioning and filtering abusive comments have already been implemented and it’s here where you need to be careful. Auto Captioning doesn’t always get it right so be sure to double-check the text before you post.

Have up-to-date social media policies

This reference point should be designed to be relevant to your industry and include all regulations. These will vary from industry to industry but should include the following components:

  • A social media policy. This will include guidelines, rules, and regulations and inform users of how to be compliant.
  • An acceptable use policy. This informs users and fans of how to interact with you in an acceptable manner.
  • A privacy policy. This informs users of how their data will be stored, collected, and used.
  • Influencer compliance policy (where applicable). Influencers may not be as aware of compliance as you are, especially industry-related compliance so build a compliance policy into your contractual agreement. Compliance regulations will be rolled out in 2023 and you will need to keep up-to-date. Beware if you rely on third-party data consent tools as they may not be up-to-date enough for your region.

Full transparency

Let users know when third parties are being paid or compensated to promote your product or service. Along a similar vein, employees posting company posts on their private accounts should disclose who they are.

Have a great customer service team

If you’re lucky enough to have a large social media following, it’s likely that you’ll be inundated with inquiries, complaints, and messages from people needing assistance. It’s important to have a good team behind you to handle the communication side of things in a polite, professional manner.

On the other side of that, you’ve done what you can but you can’t predict every compliance breach that may occur with social media. Should any issues arise, it’s important that your customer service team is well-equipped to handle any regulatory breach effectively.

A good customer service team could be in-house but outsourcing your customer service team may be a more cost-effective way and reduces your compliance risk.

Final thoughts

Social media compliance is an ongoing process. It’s not enough to get it done and forget about it. You must monitor changes to rules, regulations, laws, and software features to remain compliant. With 2023 expected to bring big changes to social media, it could mean an upheaval of compliance rules.

To stay ahead, plan ahead. Look out for changes and be ready to implement changes to your policies and practices.

Jenna Bunnell

Jenna Bunnell

is the Senior Manager for Content Marketing at Dialpad, an AI-incorporated cloud-hosted unified communications system that provides valuable call details for business owners and sales representatives.

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