At the beginning of social media as we know it, even specialists found it hard to predict how social media would evolve, so it’s only understandable that back in the early 2000s, nobody thought that social media would experience such a boom in such a short period of time. In fact, it’s quite likely that most people didn’t even know the concept of social media, let alone think much about it.
Today, social media has become a big part of our daily lives and business processes, that it’s a part of almost every company’s marketing strategy. In the United States alone, social media usage increased from 5% in 2005 to 79% in 2019. And companies took notice of this. Businesses stopped concentrating all their marketing efforts on cold calling and email marketing. Instead, they started creating campaigns that concentrate on their social media presence.
Social Media Compliance Became a Must
Early social media platforms might not have had many regulations, but the popularization of social media and its use for marketing purposes made the introduction of certain policies necessary. Business social media accounts adhere to company policy and procedures, and should therefore comply with international data privacy laws and regulations, as well as platform policies.
If you do business on social media, you shouldn’t overlook social media compliance, as this could bring dire consequences. The first thing that comes to mind are legal fees – the GDPR for example, imposes fines of up to €20 million or 4% of annual global turnover! However, non-compliance can also lead to sanctions, audits and other disciplinary measures in which you might be prevented from posting (if the non-compliance was social media related) or you can have entire databases barred from use if the data was collected in a non-compliant way. Furthermore, a lack of transparency and non-compliance with data laws can badly affect your business’s reputation.
So then, if staying compliant is so important, how can you ensure that you respect the regulations that apply to you? Here are some of our tips for staying compliant, especially on social media.
1st Step: Get Informed on the requirements that apply to you
In our day and age, information is vital. Any business owner knows this. As you step into the business world, you need to accomplish a significant number of things to be successful, and every decision that you make regarding your business needs to be well researched. This applies to legal compliance, too.
The first thing you need to do when approaching legal compliance is to determine your law of reference, that is, which regulations are applicable to your business.
Professionals advise that you shouldn’t comply just with the laws of the country you are based in, but also with the laws of the country where your target audience resides. Let’s say that your business is based in England, but you are targeting an Italian market: you would need to comply with the laws from both countries.
Once you’ve determined your law of reference, you should find out what’s actually required both by law and by the third parties you work with, whether Google, Facebook, and Instagram, that may apply additional requirements.
Because a successful social media marketing strategy should always center social media compliance, it’s important to have every member of your social media marketing team be aware of your compliance obligations, to avoid risking the consequences of non-compliance.
2nd Step: Pay special attention to Consent
As we said above, privacy policies are very important when it comes to third-party apps and services, such as social media apps.
But what about consent? And how does it apply to social media compliance?
Consent is one of the most important requirements when it comes to compliance with data privacy legislations and third-party policies, and that it’s also mandatory to give your users the option to opt-in or opt-out, (depending on the law of reference).
According to the CCPA’s (California Consumer Privacy Act), which went into force from 1st of January 2020, users have the right to opt-out at any moment.
An example of CCPA compliance is Facebook’s Limited Data Use policy: the platform automatically detects California-based users and limits how your Facebook Pixel works for them, thus potentially mining the effectiveness of your social media campaigns.
That’s why you’ll want to ensure you’re using a consent management system that allows you to keep track of all the consents you’ve collected. Specifically, your consent management system should support Facebook’s limited data use policy, so that you can apply Facebook’s advertising restrictions only to those California-based users that have already opted-out.
3rd Step: Manage Your Social Media Accounts Carefully
You need to pay attention to many things when it comes to social media. Not only must you make sure that you stay compliant with each and every different social media apps, but you also need to monitor your content and your followers’ interactions.
There are many reasons why monitoring your social media content is important. First of all, you make sure that your content stays on brand, then you see if your content has the engagement that you need in order for your marketing campaign to be a success. Keeping your followers’ interactions in check is equally important.
To be successful on social media does not only mean to be compliant. It also involves a lot of care and attention to content, engagement, and user interactions that must be shared by every member of your marketing team.
You might also wonder what exactly a company does after it acquires data from its users. Of course, they must protect that personal data and have a policy that facilitates that. A company cannot use the data it has acquired for any other purposes other than the ones it has specified in its policies.
Staying compliant on social media or on your website is no easy task. There are many things that ultimately need to be taken into consideration when creating legal abiding policies and the consequences of even the smallest of mistakes can bring pricey fees and a loss of trust from customers and followers alike.
There are many important aspects of owning an online business that demand attention, and while social media compliance may seem trivial, it’s absolutely no laughing matter as your social media presence plays a central role brand identity. Social media compliance, like data compliance in general, must be planned in advance and taken seriously.
Of course, these are all important aspects of owning an online business, but one should not forget about managing their social media content. Because the ultimate purpose is to avoid fees and to create a successful marketing strategy based on social media.
About the Author
Ovi Negrean is the CEO and Co-Founder of SocialBee.io, one of the most user-friendly social media management tools on the market. He and his team help startups, small businesses, freelancers, and entrepreneurs reach their marketing goals through keyword-informed and customer-driven articles, as well as innovative social media content.