Credit unions often tell us they run into trouble when it comes to their social media, creating friction between the marketing team and the compliance team. Social media is a great way to reach members and promote products and services to potential members, but it is a common area of compliance confusion. The advertising regulations apply the same to social media posts as they do to other advertising – there are no free passes for social media. I know this can be frustrating to marketing teams trying to be fun or keep messaging short, but there just aren’t any exemptions to the regulations I can offer here.
What I can offer, however, are a few tips. If these tips are followed closely, they could help minimize your social media compliance risk and keep the marketing and compliance teams singing in harmony.
- Present key items legibly. Specifically, an NCUA official advertising statement or Equal Housing logo. Not only do these items need to be present when applicable, but they also need to be clear and legible. A simple way to ensure you are staying compliant is to add the NCUA official advertising statement and the correct Equal Housing logo clear and legibly to your credit union’s main cover image, like the large banner images you see on Facebook and Twitter. Then you don’t have to worry about including these items in each post or tweet and it will always be clear and legible.
- One-click disclosures. If a trigger term for certain products (such as an APY) is part of the social media ad, the required trigger term disclosures can be made available within one-click of the ad. Make sure this is clear to members by stating something like “click here to view disclosures.” A better approach might be to avoid trigger terms in the postings in the first place. Not only will that save space, but it eliminates possible roadblocks for both the marketing and compliance teams.
- Say what you mean. In the attempt to be lighthearted in your social media advertising and promotions, you could end up being unclear in your message. For instance, promoting “No Fee Fridays” for your checking account product could cause members to think they won’t incur overdraft fees on Fridays. Unintentionally, you may have committed a UDAAP (Unfair, Deceptive or Abusive Acts or Practices) violation, which isn’t lighthearted at all. Remember that your posts are on behalf of a business with strict compliance rules, so say what you mean, don’t be misleading and don’t forget the disclosures!
- Be careful of rogue advertising. Every credit union wants employees enthused about their institution and encouraging new members and new business. But when that carries over to their own social media accounts, it could be troublesome. Employees may inadvertently “advertise” on their personal accounts and violate a regulation in the process.
Your credit union should establish a clear policy in which all employees submit any credit union-related posts in advance for review. And if they are going to share the credit union’s post, they must be very careful about any personal content they add to the original post. The policy should cover that as well.
Social media is a great way to reach members and potential members, and you should make the most of it. Keep in mind the same regulations apply whether you’re creating a web ad or a social media post. Just because social ads are short, doesn’t give you a free pass to say whatever you want.
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