How to Succeed in The Most Regulated Industries in Social Media

“We’ve made the decision to stop all political advertising on Twitter globally. We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought.”

The above tweet, posted by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, received over 400k likes and put pressure on Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg to follow suit.

So far, Facebook has refused to budge, with Zuckerberg stating: “I don’t think it’s right for private companies to censor politicians or the news. And, although I’ve considered whether we should not carry these ads in the past, and I’ll continue to do so, on balance, so far, I’ve thought we should continue.”

That's two very different viewpoints from two giants of social media.

Facebook’s stance has sparked wide-ranging debate surrounding the role social media networks play in the sharing of information.

No matter your opinion on the subject, there is no denying that social media regulation plays a huge part in the way that we are expected to communicate with the general public.

Let’s take a look at some industries that are impacted most by regulations and how they manage the restrictions that they deal with every day.

Online Gambling Compliance

As it happens, Responsible Gambling Week is upon us. Running from 7th – 13th November, the entire gambling industry pulls together to break the stigma on opening up about gambling habits and offer help and support to those vulnerable to addiction.

It’s an essential social initiative and one that gambling operators support to the fullest. However, betting compliance is stringent all year round- not just during this week.

Marketing banners, emails, and social media posts must not include children or young people, or contain imagery that appeals to youngsters. This particular guideline is challenging to navigate; game developers often base characters and themes around famous cartoons. Plus, CG image technology used by Disney and Dreamworks is usually deemed non-compliant, making marketing difficult. Even people under the age of 25 (or those lucky-ducks that look under 25) may not feature in any advertising.

It may appear obvious, but gambling firms must not portray betting as a way of making money. Brands cannot mislead customers about offers, and all material must mention and contain a link to their terms and conditions.

Our advice? Familiarise yourself with the online gambling compliance rules in place, especially if you are working in online gambling. Even better, consider in-house compliance pros to approve any comms before it runs, as we do.

Marketing and Advertising

GDPR. Remember that? You should, and it should still be very much at the forefront of your CRM processes. Short for General Data Protection Regulation, GDPR has strict rules on how advertisers can use a person’s data, particularly pertaining to email marketing.

All marketing material must represent an accurate description of a product or service.

To surmise,  the Wikipedia page dedicated to GDPR states:

'Controllers of personal data must put in place appropriate technical and organisational measures to implement the data protection principles. Business processes that handle personal data must be designed and built with consideration of the principles and provide safeguards to protect data (for example, using pseudonymization or full anonymization where appropriate), and use the highest-possible privacy settings by default, so that the datasets are not publicly available without explicit, informed consent, and cannot be used to identify a subject without additional information (which must be stored separately). No personal data may be processed unless this processing is done under a lawful basis specified by the regulation, or unless the data controller or processor has received an unambiguous and individualised affirmation of consent from the data subject. The data subject has the right to revoke this consent at any time.'

Aside from data protection, the Advertising Standards Authority (or ASA) also has set marketing rules, outlining that any advertising claims and content must be:

  • Legal
  • Truthful
  • Decent
  • Honest
  • Socially responsible

Socially responsible means that the adverts and their claims must not encourage illegal, unsafe, or anti-social behaviour.

Different industries have different regulations. For example, a company can only post about a product being ‘low in alcohol’ if it contains 0.5% and 1.2% alcohol by volume.

There are specific requirements in sectors such as food, beauty products, medicines, and tobacco. In the UK, gruesome images of chronic smokers appear on all cigarette packaging in the hopes of dissuading consumers from purchasing tobacco products and educating young consumers about the real-life consequences of developing a nicotine habit.

If your business centres around any of these, please be sure to familiarise yourself with the regulations in place. The repercussions for not doing so can be damaging.

Financial Services

Every commercial bank in the Fortune 500 has Twitter and Facebook accounts. While it is fantastic that they are committed to informing their customers via social media, there are considerable compliance and regulatory requirements that apply to all social channels.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has its regulations for compliance on social media. Every post sent out requires disclosure, even when word count restrictions apply.

The financial services industry is continuously changing, meaning that previously accurate posts may not remain so over time. With that in mind, posts must be archived within three-years.

Health and Pharmaceutical

There are strict rules in place for how organisations may use patient health information. First and foremost, all information must be kept in the strictest of confidence.

GP's and their marketing teams CANNOT share patient information without the written consent of the person in question, including photos and videos where the patient or their records are identifiable.

Therefore, social media posts must not disclose any personal information or identifying characteristics of a person in before-and-after images. You may think that because a person’s name or likeness isn’t visible, you've met regulatory procedures. However, lawsuits have deemed information like a blurred face or treatment location as revealing private details about the person and can lead to a substantial fine.

In both the medical and cosmetic surgery industries, it is always best to err on the side of caution.

There are ways to help improve your compliance efforts on social media. These include:

  • Understand the regulations in your industry, and nominate a compliance officer within your business
  • Create a clear and concise social media policy for your staff members to refer to
  • Monitor all of your accounts regularly to catch errant posts
  • Have an approval process in place before publishing through social media
  • Archive or delete all out-of-date communications
  • Invest in regular training for the staff to keep current with regulations

ActiveWin Media offers digital services to a variety of clients. With the help of our compliance team, we stay on top of industry regulations, while delivering great acquisition results

Want to know how we can assist you and your business? Get in touch with us today.