Social Media Risks and Myths

Social Media Risks and Myths with Grace Dinn

Despite the overwhelming potential of social media, community banks and credit unions are still timid about embracing it as a marketing channel. Why? Compliance and a misunderstanding of social media risks.

It's a fair concern.

The regulations were created to manage print materials that were static and easier to control; a billboard is permanent and you control the messaging. You have space to include all the legal language.

Social is much more fluid; the lines between professional and personal messages are blurring and communications can easily be hijacked. The gap between what regulation was meant to manage (print) and social media has led to many institutions believing myths about what they can and cannot do on social media.

To help clear things up, we invited Grace Dinn of ABA to be our guest for a Twitter chat on Social Media Risks and Myths.

Employees and Social Media Risk


Let's face it, employees are going to be active on social media both inside and outside the branch. A quick Google search will quickly show you story after story of situations where an employee used their personal account in a way that adversely impacted their employer.

Rather than trying to keep employees off of social media, embrace this trend and guide them. Not only is this the safer route, but it can have a significant marketing impact.

With employee advocates messages get further reach and social media risks are minimized.

Employee social media risks can be mitigated through a strong employee advocacy program, leads convert with 7x more frequency.

Start by building a strong employee social media policy that clearly outlines the Do's and Don'ts. Once you have this in place, consider expanding social media ownership by creating an employee advocacy program.

"Nearly 31% of high-growth firms have a formal employee advocacy program, more than double the average of all other firms. Almost 86% of advocates in a formal program said that their involvement in social media had a positive impact on their career." - Hinge Research Institute and Social Media Today


What Social Media Risks Keep You Up At Night?


Social media never sleeps, and that fact can cause social media managers sleepless nights.


Mitigate this social media risk by developing and documenting a comprehensive Social Media Listening Policy. This involves creating channel specific searches and alerts to notify you when a situation begins to emerge. While this won't prevent issues, it will allow you minimize potential impacts. Have a documented crisis response grid in place so that you can accurately assess and respond to any issue as soon as you are aware of it.

Unique Compliance Concerns Related to Video and Live Streaming


Cisco predicts video will represent 80% of all internet traffic by 2019. This trend is already impacting social media platforms; Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and YouTube all have live streaming options built in natively to the platform.

As consumers adopt this trend, it will gradually become an expectation that brands also adopt the medium. Live content opens a new world of compliance concerns.

Before going live, consider making a video compliance checklist.

  • Has everyone who will be speaking gone through social media training?
  • Do we have a "program" for the session?
  • Has everyone who will be appearing on camera signed a release form?
  • Is this video happening in a secure and controlled environment?
  • Have we checked the shot's background to ensure no confidential or product language is visible?
  • Do we have a community manager monitoring the stream and the chat?
  • Do we have a documented crisis plan on how to respond to any adverse event?
  • Where will this content live after the live session?
  • Will we own the recording after the live session?

What are Common Mistakes You See Other Financial Institutions Make on Social Media?


There is a steep learning curve in this confusing and quick moving environment, so mistakes are a natural part of the career. In fact, if you aren't making mistakes then you are likely not creating interesting and compelling content. Sticking to the tried-and-true is a great way to blend in with everyone else.


That said, there are still some basic best practices that we see violated all too often.

Now that we have a list of common mistakes, here is how you avoid them.

Not showing enough personality.
There is something about posting as a business account that drains the personality out of us. What if you stopped posting as a bank or credit union, and began posting as the local tourist bureau? To be more personable, consider changing your persona. Don't allow stereotypes or job titles to define your brand voice.

Not monitoring your presence.
This is a common mistake because many institutions still believe social media is optional. Not claiming your profile does not prevent consumers from talking about, it only allows a reputational risk to persist. We've published a series of guides to help you claim and optimize your listings.

Tweeting with links to Facebook.
This is a symptom of resource constraint. It's easy to link multiple platforms together so that you post once and the content ripples across your other channels. What you save in time, you lose tenfold in relevance. Your Twitter users want to stay on Twitter; they don't want to redirect or see broken content because the automated cross posting is longer than 140 characters. Take the time log in and write a Twitter optimized post.

Long links.
Long links are ugly, hard to remember, and not branded. The solution here is easy -- use Not only will this shorten your links, but you'll be able to customize the URL so that it is easier to remember and access analytics on your link.

Starting a tweet with @
Using the "@" symbol is how you mention a handle in a tweet. When the mention is at the start of the tweet, only the sender, receiver, and mutual followers can see it. When the mention appears anywhere other than at the start of the tweet, everyone can see it. A quick fix for this is to put a period before the mention. Example: .@Kasasa

What is a Social Media Compliance Myth You Want to Dispel?


As we wrestle to understand how regulation applies to emerging platforms and media types, we sometimes let fear drive us and latch on to myths as truth. Here are some of our favorite social media risk myths.

Following these myths can actually create social media risk. Looking at the example of photoshopping "FDIC" onto profile pictures or every image could lead consumers to believe all your products are FDIC insured. It's best to include compliance language in part of the post that cannot be separated from the product or offer. This might be on a landing page or in the text version of the post.

What is the Hardest Channel to Manage?


Every channel has its own unique challenges and hurdles. Make checking the platforms terms of service and rules on a quarterly basis so that you understand what you can and cannot do. Check for updates in FFIEC and FTC guidelines at least twice a year. Subscribing to industry publications, like Social Media Examiner, can be a way to stay on top of changes and emerging trends.

What’s Your Advice for Managing the Compliance and Social Media Relationship?


Don't shy away from this relationship or turn it into a battle; embrace it. Successful social media managers empower their compliance team by building workflows and approval processes with them. Give your compliance officer a seat in any social media management tool you use and train them to notice or be alerted to triggering terms and issues.

The earlier you can prepare your content, the more time your compliance team has to review it for potential issues. While this doesn't work for live or in-the-moment content, you can work with your compliance team to make "Rules of Engagement." For example, some rules might be:

  • Do not retweet messages from other businesses as it might be seen as an endorsement.
  • Do not use memes with celebrity figures featured prominently, as it might be seen as an endorsement.
  • For consumer complaints, screen shot the message and ask the consumers to call 555-555-5555.

These are hypothetical rules of engagement and might not work for how your institution engages online. The point is that you should work with your compliance officers to build rules of engagement that match your risk tolerance and your brand personality.

Want more social media tips and tricks?


All September long we're hosting Social Media Month. It's a free digital conference that connects community financial institutions with social media industry experts. RSVP here to get weekly reminders, session recaps, exclusive content, and access to recordings.

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The ABA Bank Marketing Conference is just a few weeks away. Join them in New Orleans September 24 - 26 for 3 days of great content full of tactical takeaways and insights plus the chance to mix and mingle with bank marketing peers from across the country as well as awesome solutions providers. Hope to see you there – register today!

Andrew Swinney
Andrew Swinney