How to make social media less scary?

Keep this strictly between us, but I have big misgivings about companies using Twitter. That’s because deep down, I still feel social media should be precisely that – social.

Whenever a promoted tweet invades my timeline I can’t help getting that slightly cloying sensation. It’s like being accosted by an overfamiliar shop assistant desperately selling ‘at’ you, when you’re really, honestly, look just leave me alone to enjoy my shopping in peace, browsing.

That said, when it comes to the crunch, I know there’s no escaping it. Every company needs to be on social media. It lets you have conversations with people that had previously been impossible to reach. It’s an instant feedback mechanism. It lets you share ideas and promote your brand in ways that were unheard of just ten years ago.

That’s the good news. The bad news, of course, is that the possibility of getting it wrong is enormous. Asking your customers to share their fond experiences of using your products is likely to reap a backlash of epic proportions. Just ask McDonald’s.

And financial services companies shouldn’t feel they are immune to the trolls just because their products aren’t consumed with the same instant disdain or relish (apologies, I can’t resist a pun) as a Big Mac.

Every company needs its own social media policy, to be shared with – and acknowledged by – all employees, not only those with access to the company Twitter account. Nowadays, everyone has access to Twitter, which means anyone has the potential to damage your company’s brand.

How to make social media less scary? DotApprove’s “10 best practices for compliant social media”  tackles one of the most difficult subjects for marketing professionals to get their heads around in a few simple steps. First, it explains how a social media policy should be integrated with the whole Marketing team, before cascading out by detailing the fundamentals that all employees need to follow. Perhaps most importantly, the guide centres on ensuring any promotional tweets are subject to the same rigorous approvals process as any financial promotion.

I can’t stress the last point highly enough. The FCA is right to be taking a firm line on tweets that can be considered as financial promotions. Until your Marketing team understands what can and can’t be said in a tweet without it falling foul of FCA interpretations, then it’s probably wiser to say nothing at all.



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