There are a number of problems with Twitter. It’s blamed for spreading fake news, it tends to be the weapon of choice for those looking to make abusive comments online and now, there is potentially even more scope for damage, with the character count for posts being doubled from 140 to 280 characters.
Financial services firms will almost certainly already have social media policies in place, but given the growing influence and changes to Twitter, what are some of the key areas for risk managers to be aware of?
Prompt, compliant replies are crucial
Twitter is increasingly seen by many customers as the quickest way to make a complaint – and leaving these unanswered can be a major risk - potentially resulting in a snowball effect. Firms should do this promptly, acknowledge mistakes and be seen to put things right.
Those tasked with responsibility for tweeting must be highly in tune with compliance rules and be able to communicate in straightforward language that represents the brand. Potentially now longer tweets are permitted, this will be of benefit the ‘wordy’ financial services sector.
Ready for trolls
It can be hard to distinguish – certainly after only a few tweets - between disgruntled customers and trolls who merely want to try and damage a brand or an individual. Risk managers should ensure the business is ready to deal with them. Often, the most effective strategy is to provide trolls with an email address where their issues can be assessed outside of Twitter. Generally, once they are taken out of the public domain, many will disappear.
Employees must be aware of boundaries
It’s accepted that HR will usually check out an individual’s tweets before offering them a role, typically to give a steer on whether points discussed during interviews and through references match up. Although some may say there is benefit in monitoring tweets made both at work and privately, this throws up ethical issues, and is a virtually impossible challenge in terms of resourcing.
What is more, someone who has unsavoury motivations will almost certainly have multiple accounts and be difficult to track. Instead, it makes more sense for employees to be aware from the outset that if they damage a firm’s reputation or suggest via a tweet that their behaviour involves breaking the law, or in other ways is unacceptable, or they breach confidentiality, then the consequences could be very serious.
Employers, for their part, must ensure their policy on social media is readily available, clear and that it is applied equally to all employees.
Embrace the positives
Outwardly, Twitter poses risk, but it should not be forgotten that it also brings risk managers a number of important benefits, which include:
- Networking with other compliance professionals, both in the UK and worldwide. Why not use Twitter to both stay in the loop in terms of up-to-the-minute news and commentary, and also build up a great contact group? There are numerous risk management Twitter pages and while LinkedIn also has its benefits here, Twitter has the immediacy.
- While verification is important, Twitter is also unparalleled for providing the word on the ground in terms of news and for fast answers, such as queries on what training is most effective, for example.
- Twitter as a recruitment tool and for goodwill. Risk managers may well be able to find new team members via the platform and beyond this it’s been shown that businesses which operate controlled ‘employee advocacy’ are viewed well not only by their customers, but also by potential staff members. Far more so, for example, than just promoting the business with the CEO as a mouthpiece.
Notably, the Financial Conduct Authority has not issued formal guidance on social media since 2015, which suggests it expects firms to have established sound protocols by now, particularly in relation to promotions - unsurprisingly “fair, clear and not misleading” - and in responding to customer complaints and negative feedback. Twitter is becoming a part of business life and for risk managers it’s also time to be part of the conversation.