Twitter guidance for firms in the financial sector from the FCA

It has taken the financial services sector longer than most industries in getting to grips with social media. It's highly regulated, a legislation minefield that needs care when it comes to security, privacy, data protection and compliance.

But with social media becoming such a valued marketing channel, financial institutions have needed to find ways to create strategies around something which is notoriously difficult to police and control.

Businesses successful with social media have found that it's great way to attract, engage and retain customers, promote products and services, monitor reputation, and engage with customers directly and interactively. But with this comes operational, reputational and strategic risk.

So to help firms in the financial sector, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has come up with a guide to how companies should use social media when it comes topromoting themselves financially through social media.

It's an interesting doc – the FCA recognises that social media is a powerful form of media and has no desire to prevent its use. But it does say that firms need to follow a rule which states that all communications (including financial promotions) must be 'clear, fair and not misleading', and that all customers should be presented with a certain minimum amount of information.

So financial service institutions particularly need care with a social media tool like Twitter, which has a limited space for characters. The FCA says that companies need to be particularly careful in deciding whether character-limited media is appropriate for promoting complex financial services or products, especially as messages can spread so quickly.

So if you're working in financial services as a marketer, it'll be well worth your time to look at this guidance, especially if you’re wanting to tweet!