We know that one of the biggest barriers for financial advisors to get involved with social media is the fear of not being compliant. This is certainly a valid concern, but unless your broker-dealer specifically bars you from posting, you should absolutely take advantage of this powerful tool to connect with clients and prospects compliantly. At the end of the day, social media follows a lot of the same rules as any other communication you send as an advisor. For a crash course in making sure your social media is compliant, follow these do’s and don’ts.

DO – Get your static profile approved by compliance

For your Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter pages, everything that’s static in your profile needs to be pre-approved. This includes your:

  • Bio
  • “About” blurb
  • Headline or title
  • Profile picture
  • Business information

Your regular posts and updates do not need to be pre-approved, though they will be monitored (read on for more info.)

DO – Monitor posts, status updates, and messages

Monitor posts, status updates, messages. Though they don’t need to be pre-approved, the regular communication standards still apply, and compliance can request to review any posts. Keep an eye on the posts your firm is creating, as well as any posting your advisors are doing on their personal LinkedIn or Twitter pages, if they are representing themselves as a financial expert.

DON’T – Share testimonials or endorsements

It’s best to check with your firm’s compliance department for their specific rules.

DO – Only link to trusted third party sites

Avoid posting links to sites that are known for posting incorrect or misleading information. If you learn that an article you shared on social media is incorrect, or if the site itself loses credibility, the post should be deleted. Other sites may be linked within the original article you shares. FINRA does not have any guidelines about these distant links but check with your compliance department to see if they are comfortable with what you are sharing.

DON’T – Make specific product or service recommendations

Only the most general of information about finance should be shared. You should not include posts with advice like “ if you have a college age child you must have a 529 account.” Including a disclaimer that the content shouldn’t be considered investment advice is a good idea just in case.

DO – Encourage employees to get social

Employees can (and should!) share “social” posts like event announcements, community involvement, and job openings for the firm. While advisors and firms should avoid posts that offer any specific financial advice (see below), these more generic human-interest pieces are always allowed. If your firm is sponsoring a local charity event, that should be shared and celebrated! 

DO – Archive all communication

Before you start, make certain your firm follows your Broker/Dealer policy on archiving social posts. Compliance can request to view all messages that are sent, so be sure that you have a way of archiving all activity on each social media site.

DO – Follow the general communication rules for financial advisors

These rules include:

  • All communications must be fair, balanced, and complete – and not omit material information.
  • False, misleading, promissory, exaggerated or unwarranted statements or claims are prohibited.
  • Communications may not predict or project performance (with certain exceptions).
  • Material information in a communication may not be buried in footnotes.
  • Statements must be clear and provide a balanced treatment of risks and potential benefits.
  • Communications must be appropriate for the audience.

If you use FMG Suite’s automated social campaigns, you can trust that the content has already been approved for compliance. To learn more about our social campaign tools, click here.

[Source: FINRA.ORG]