Time For Everyone To Get Written Policies In Place On Social Media

Recently, the five federal financial regulators released proposed guidelines to help banks and credit unions manage their use of social media networks, like Facebook and Twitter ("NCUA Proposes Social Media Guidelines," Credit Union Journal, Jan. 22, 2013). This move draws much-needed attention to the growing importance of social media monitoring. With these networks engaging people of all ages and companies from every sector, managing social media requires well-thought-out planning.

Even if a credit union currently doesn't engage in social media, its members and employees do. At a minimum, it's important to follow what is being said about your credit union in the social space-good or bad-so you are prepared if potential issues arise.

Social media can be an effective tool for engaging members, increasing awareness and improving communication. In DigitalMailer's work to help credit unions implement e-marketing strategies, it's often an integral part of the mix. But users should also know that social media comes with risk, especially for highly regulated industries like ours. Monitoring is essential to mitigate compliance, legal and reputation risks. Whether it's a private message mistakenly sent to the masses, a negative blog post by a disgruntled member or employee, or a financial notice posted without the required disclosures, credit unions should track conversations about their institutions in social media networks.

We recommend all credit unions develop a written policy on social media-even if you're just beginning to use it. Spell out your credit union's definition of social media, what is expected of employees who use it (both in their work roles and personal time) and the consequences of policy violations. Make sure staff members are clearly informed about the policy and have their own copy of it.

As with any aspect of financial operations, having a well-defined social media policy makes smart business sense. You have policies for using company phone and e-mail systems. Social media is just as vital.

Ron Daly, President/CEO

DigitalMailer, Inc., Herndon, Va.