Social in Banking and Financial Industries: Be Careful

Social in Banking and Financial Industries: Be Careful

By: Shelly Kramer
January 29, 2013

proposed social media guidelines for financial industryHeads up, banking and financial social media marketers—some big changes might be coming down the regulatory pipeline, courtesy of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council. The organization has released proposed guidelines governing social media use by banks, savings associations and credit unions—and they require a strategy, regular ROI reporting, mandatory monitoring and more.

So what prompted the proposed regulations? According to the FFIEC, “the use of social media by financial institutions to attract and interact with customers can affect their risk profile.” As a result, the organization has created a thorough set of guidelines designed to not only help financial institutions evaluate all possible social media-related risks, but also create proactive risk management procedures.

Makes sense, right? After all, if you think about it, there’s risk involved with social media marketing in any industry, which is why we’re big advocates of creating tools like a crisis management plan before you need them, rather than when you’re in the throes of an emergency and every second counts.

That being said, there’s no denying the proposed FFIEC regulations include a lot of requirements, something that those in the financial industry should be aware of as they continue to develop their digital strategies. Here’s a look at what they’d be required to do, should these regulations be approved accompanied by my (sometimes snarky) comments:

  • Create a social media strategy that outlines clear roles and responsibilities. The strategy will clearly state how social media use contributes to a company’s strategic goals, as well as how risks will be handled and what controls will be put in place. Well, this is nice. Regulations that require a strategy. What a novel concept. It’ll be very interesting to watch and see what happens with this.
  • Regular ROI reports must be given to a financial institution’s board of directors or senior management. This’ll be interesting, since the concept of ROI remains an uncharted territory for many businesses and marketers. I’d love to see those reports.
  • Financial institutions must create a social media monitoring process that can either be implemented by the institution itself or by a contracted third party. Smart business, for any business.
  • Employee training programs will be established to educate employees on work-related social media use, as well as what constitutes impermissible activities. Also smart, and important for every business.

Whew. The list continues, but we think you have a good idea of what might be required. Interested in reading more? You asked for it—here’s the full 31-page document.

Have some input on these proposed regulations? Make your voice heard! The FFIEC is inviting comments from those who work with banks or credit unions. The Financial Brand offers instructions on how to post your thoughts. Visit and click Advanced Search. Scroll down to By Docket ID, type FFIEC-2013-0001 and hit Enter. Comments will be collected until mid-March. And a word of caution? The comments will be posted in their original format on the website, including any personal information that you provide—so think before you post!

What’s your take on the regulations? Appropriate for the financial industry? Will these somewhat stringent guidelines ever be approved? And are they necessary or complete overkill?

Image: twicepix via Compfight cc

  • Jay Deragon

    More 20th Century thinking rather than 21st Century solutions.

    Creating mandated policies to manage social media risk doesn’t work, hasn’t worked and will not work. All it does is increase cost and reduces engagement.

    Fear induces control. Control reduces creativity. Maybe the regulators, the banks and financial institutions ought to engage with the customers, the employees and the marketplace and find out what value they can create vs. what fears they need to control. The mental model is holding them captive to the wrong thinking.

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  • So long as there are legal obligations and rules in place, the mental model trumps everything else.

  • ShellyKramer

    I agree with you to a large degree, Jay. These proposed regulations (imagine the conversations about the ROI issue alone) put some large barriers in front of banks and financial institutions when it comes to connecting online with their customers. Sigh.

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  • My first thought on the 4 rules was: duh… shouldn’t all businesses be doing that already, except for #2 . That makes me think: since most financial institutions I deal with could care less about the customer experience, they would of course miss out on one of the primary benefits of social. And, since they probably don’t care about ‘social data’ and understanding that data, again, they miss out. So, like all financial thinkers, they only look for the bottom line… which, as you said, isn’t measurable in any real way.

  • ShellyKramer

    Good points, Amy. But the reality is that many businesses don’t do this stuff already, so I can see why it would be important to require it. But yes, banks aren’t exactly known for great customer service. It’ll be interesting to watch how this plays out, thought. Thanks, as always, for coming by!