As social media continues to shape the modern business landscape, organizations face the challenge of navigating complex regulatory frameworks and eliminating potential risks associated with their online presence.
And making sure that organizations adhere to relevant laws, regulations, and industry-specific guidelines while maximizing the potential of social media platforms has become a vital aspect of companies’ digital strategy.
In this article, we’ll explore the concept of social media compliance, its benefits, key regulations, and potential risks you must be aware of in 2024.
So let’s dig in!
What is social media compliance?
Social media compliance refers to organizations’ compliance with relevant laws, regulations, and industry-specific guidelines while using social media platforms. It consists of a set of policies, procedures, and practices designed to guarantee the legal and ethical behavior of everyone involved in the process of social media content creation.
In an era where social media plays a central role in communication, marketing, and brand building, it’s imperative that organizations navigate through a complex landscape of regulations and potential risks.
The key is to provide a social media compliance program with a clear and transparent framework. By highlighting responsible and compliant usage of different social media channels, your company can minimize legal and financial risks, protect your brand’s reputation, and build trust with your audience.
Here are the several key aspects of social media compliance to keep in mind:
- Data privacy and security measures – There are various measures you can take to protect sensitive information shared on social media platforms. Organizations must implement safeguards like encryption, access controls, and consent mechanisms to make sure they properly handle all personal data.
- Adherence to advertising and marketing regulations – Organizations must comply with guidelines related to truthfulness, disclosure, and appropriate targeting to make sure their social media campaigns are honest, transparent, and compliant.
- Social media compliance extends to industry-specific regulations – For example, financial institutions have to adhere to rules set by regulatory bodies like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), while healthcare organizations must comply with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations.
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Benefits of social media compliance
Social media compliance offers several significant benefits for organizations.
Here are five key advantages:
- Legal and regulatory compliance
- Enhanced data protection and privacy
- Brand reputation management
- Improved risk management
- Increased customer engagement and trust
1. Legal and regulatory compliance
By implementing various social media compliance practices, organizations can make sure to adhere to relevant laws, regulations, and industry-specific guidelines. This mitigates the risk of fines, penalties, legal disputes, and reputational damage that can arise from non-compliance.
Plus, compliance provides peace of mind by demonstrating a commitment to operating within the bounds of the law.
2. Enhanced data protection and privacy
Social media compliance measures help organizations protect sensitive data shared on these platforms. Implementing proper security protocols, data encryption, access controls, and consent mechanisms helps protect customer information.
This reduces the risk of data breaches, unauthorized access, and the resulting reputational damage and legal consequences.
3. Brand reputation management
Social media compliance allows organizations to proactively manage their brand reputation.
By monitoring social media activities, organizations can detect and address potential issues, such as negative sentiment, customer complaints, or harmful content. This enables timely intervention and appropriate responses, helping to maintain a positive brand image and customer trust.
4. Improved risk management
Social media compliance practices contribute to more effective risk management strategies.
By implementing policies and procedures that outline acceptable social media behavior, your organization can minimize the likelihood of reputational risks, legal issues, and public relations crises. Regular audits and monitoring can identify potential compliance gaps and enable proactive risk mitigation.
5. Increased customer engagement and trust
Social media compliance creates a climate of trust and transparency with customers. By respecting privacy rights, protecting data, and establishing compliance with advertising and marketing regulations, your organization will build stronger relationships with the audience.
This includes increased customer loyalty, improved engagement, and attracting new customers who value compliance and responsible social media use.
How to ensure social media compliance
With the increasing number of companies that use social media for business purposes, it’s become essential to establish guidelines and practices. These practices should be designed to help everyone in the organization make sure their social media posts comply with relevant laws, regulations, and industry standards.
Here are the 10 key steps to help you make sure you’re meeting the social media compliance:
- Develop a social media policy
- Educate and train employees
- Monitor social media activities
- Establish approval processes
- Regularly update policies and guidelines
- Provide clear disclaimers
- Address potential legal issues promptly
- Secure sensitive information
- Stay updated on industry regulations
- Foster a culture of compliance
1. Develop a social media policy
Start by creating a comprehensive social media policy that outlines the rules and guidelines for employees’ social media use. This policy should cover areas such as acceptable content, confidentiality, data protection, privacy, intellectual property rights, and compliance with industry-specific regulations.
If you’re working in one of highly regulated industries like finance, medicine, or the pharmaceutical industry, you should make an especially deep investigation into all the policies and regulations that you should follow as part of your social media presence.
2. Educate and train employees
Provide training sessions and educational materials to employees to make sure they understand the social media policy and their responsibilities. They should be aware of the potential risks associated with social media use and the importance of complying with legal and regulatory requirements.
3. Monitor social media activities
Implement a monitoring system to keep track of employees’ social media activities related to the organization. This can involve using social media monitoring tools or assigning someone at the company to monitor and review social media content for compliance issues.
4. Establish approval processes
Create a process for reviewing and approving social media content before it’s posted. This helps you make sure that all content aligns with the organization’s policies and complies with legal and regulatory requirements.
The best practice would be to implement a review and approval tool and assign individuals or teams responsible for reviewing and approving content.
5. Regularly update policies and guidelines
Social media platforms and regulations are continually evolving. It’s crucial to review and update your social media policies and guidelines regularly to keep up with the changing landscape. Stay informed about new regulations and best practices in your industry and integrate them into your policies.
6. Provide clear disclaimers
When employees post content on behalf of the organization, make sure they use appropriate disclaimers to clarify that their views are personal and not representing the company’s official stance. This helps avoid potential confusion or misinterpretation of their opinions as official statements.
7. Address potential legal issues promptly
If any legal issues arise due to social media activities, take immediate action to address them. This may involve consulting with legal counsel, managing public relations, and taking some measures to avoid any potential damage.
8. Secure sensitive information
Another important aspect of social media compliance is making sure that employees are aware of the sensitivity of certain information and that they handle it appropriately. Implement strict access controls and encryption measures to protect sensitive data from unauthorized access or disclosure.
By implementing a review and approval tool like Filestage, you’ll be able to manage access to each social media post you upload for review. This way you’ll avoid the leakage of any sensitive information, and make sure that the important information is only available to the stakeholders that really need to see it.
9. Stay updated on industry regulations
Keep a close eye on any regulations specific to your industry that govern social media use. Stay updated on changes and make sure your compliance efforts are in line with industry-specific rules and guidelines.
10. Foster a culture of compliance
Encourage a culture of compliance within your organization by regularly communicating and reinforcing the importance of social media compliance.
Your social media marketers shouldn’t be the only ones aware of the importance of social media compliance. Stimulate all employees to report any potential compliance issues they come across and provide channels for anonymous reporting if necessary.
Eight key social media regulations
Key social media regulations vary depending on the country and the industry you work in.
Here are some of the key regulations that your organization should be aware of:
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – This is a comprehensive data protection regulation in the European Union (EU) that governs the collection, use, and storage of personal data. It imposes strict requirements for organizations to obtain user consent, provide transparency in data processing, and make sure they securely handle and store personal data.
- Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Guidelines – In the United States, the FTC has issued guidelines that regulate advertising and promotional activities on social media. These guidelines require influencers and businesses to disclose any material connections or endorsements, to guarantee transparency and avoid misleading practices.
- Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) –This U.S. federal law protects the privacy of children under the age of 13. It places restrictions on the collection of personal information from children on websites and online services, including social media platforms.
- Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) Codes – In the United Kingdom, the ASA sets advertising standards that apply to social media content. These standards make sure that advertising is legal, decent, honest, and truthful. They cover areas such as misleading advertising, social responsibility, and the protection of vulnerable individuals.
- CAN-SPAM Act – This U.S. law regulates commercial email communications, including those shared on social media platforms. It requires businesses to include clear identification, provide opt-out options, and honor opt-out requests in commercial emails.
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) – HIPAA is a U.S. law that protects the privacy and security of individuals’ health information. It applies to healthcare providers and organizations that handle protected health information (PHI), including those that use social media for patient engagement.
- Telecommunications Act – Some countries have specific regulations governing telecommunications and internet services that may apply to social media platforms. These regulations cover areas like privacy, data protection, user consent, and the management of illegal or harmful content.
- Intellectual Property Laws – Intellectual property laws protect copyrights, trademarks, and patents. Social media platforms have policies to address copyright breach and intellectual property violations.
Five social media compliance risks
Social media compliance risks can vary depending on the industry and specific context, but here are five significant risks that organizations commonly face:
- Data privacy and security
- Regulatory compliance
- Advertising and marketing compliance
- Intellectual property risks
- Employee Conduct and social media policies
Let’s look at those in more detail.
1. Data privacy and security risks
One of the most critical compliance risks is the protection of sensitive information shared on social media platforms. Organizations must make sure they comply with data privacy regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).
By failing to adequately secure personal information your business can face large fines and reputational damage.
2. Regulatory compliance risks
Different industries have specific regulations governing social media activities. For example, financial institutions must comply with regulations like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rules, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) regulations, and the Dodd-Frank Act. If your business fails to comply with the regulations, it can face severe penalties and legal consequences.
3. Advertising and marketing compliance
Social media platforms are commonly used for advertising and marketing purposes, and organizations must comply with applicable advertising laws and guidelines.
Violations can include false or misleading claims, lack of proper disclosures, endorsement mismanagement, or going against specific platform advertising policies.
4. Intellectual property rights
Social media platforms facilitate the sharing and distribution of content, increasing the risk of copyright and trademark risks. Organizations need to make sure that they have the necessary permissions or licenses for the content they post or share. Failure to respect intellectual property rights can lead to legal disputes, financial penalties, and reputational harm.
5. Employee conduct and social media policies
Employees’ social media activities can have a significant impact on an organization’s reputation and compliance. Organizations should establish clear guidelines and policies regarding employee social media use and monitor for compliance.
How different social media platforms define compliance
Each platform has its own set of rules and policies that you must adhere to so make sure to set up your company’s social media accounts in a way that they follow required regulations.
Here is an overview of how different social media platforms define compliance:
Facebook has a comprehensive set of community standards that outline what is allowed and what is not allowed on the platform. These standards cover areas like hate speech, violence, nudity, harassment, and fake accounts.
Users are expected to follow these guidelines to make sure they’re compliant with Facebook’s policies. Don’t be surprised if your content gets removed, your account is suspended, or you face other penalties if you fail to comply with Facebook’s regulations.
Instagram is owned by Facebook but it has its own community guidelines that focus on promoting a safe and positive environment. These guidelines cover topics like nudity, hate speech, bullying, spam, and intellectual property rights.
All Instagram users must adhere to these guidelines to avoid having their content removed, account restrictions, or suspension.
Twitter’s rules and policies address various aspects of user behavior on the platform. They cover areas such as hate speech, harassment, impersonation, violent threats, and spam.
Twitter expects users to comply with these rules, and violations may result in content removal, account suspension, or permanent bans.
LinkedIn is a professional networking platform with its own user agreement and professional community policies. These policies emphasize professionalism, respect, and maintaining a safe environment.
Users must follow guidelines related to profile information, content sharing, messaging, and engagement to make sure they’re compliant with LinkedIn’s standards.
For more practical tips and examples on how write a strong LinkedIn post that will comply with all relevant regulations, check out the 10 LinkedIn post ideas.
YouTube has a set of community guidelines that focus on content creation, copyright, harassment, hate speech, violence, and spam.
Users are expected to comply with these guidelines to avoid content takedowns, channel strikes, or termination of their YouTube accounts. YouTube also provides a system for reporting and addressing violations.
TikTok’s community guidelines highlight the platform’s commitment to safety, authenticity, and positive user experiences. They address topics like nudity, hate speech, bullying, dangerous activities, and intellectual property rights. Users are required to adhere to these guidelines, and non-compliance may result in content removal or account suspension.
Pinterest has its own acceptable use policy that covers a wide range of content-related issues. This includes guidelines on intellectual property rights, spam, nudity, hate speech, and promoting harmful activities.
Snapchat’s community guidelines promote a safe and enjoyable experience for users. They cover topics like harassment, hate speech, explicit content, impersonation, and spam. Snapchat expects users to adhere to these guidelines, and violations may lead to content removal, account suspensions, or permanent bans.
It’s important to note that the guidelines and policies of social media platforms keep changing over time. Platform owners regularly update their policies to adapt to new challenges and user expectations.
And it’s the user’s responsibility to stay informed about these changes and establish ongoing compliance to maintain a positive presence on social media platforms.
In the creative and dynamic field of social media, it’s important to know that there are still some rules and guidelines we should follow. By setting up a rigorous social media workflow, you can put guardrails in place to protect your company from legal battles while building trust with customers.
Naturally, all the guidelines mentioned in this article are exactly that: guidelines. So if you have specific concerns about your industry and how to approach social media, reach out to a compliance specialist.
If you’d like to see how Filestage can help you maintain social media compliance, make sure to try it for free →