Getting Social The Compliant Way – Part Five – To Like or not to Like

Published: 23 February, 2017

This is the last of my posts on the FCA and social media. You can see previous articles here.

After the FCA released guidance on social media use in the summer of 2014, it asked for feedback from industry bodies and financial firms. The feedback received – and the response – makes for interesting reading, as it sheds more light on the FCA’s attitude and rules.

And – nice chap that I am – I’ve waded through it all for you.

Here are the key points:

Can promotional posts that link to a webpage be viewed as an initial part of a communication, thus be exempt from regulations?

No. The FCA is firm on this, saying that posts and websites must be seen as separate financial promotions. It states that: ‘…each (post) must comply separately with any specific requirements in our rules, as well as being clear, fair and not misleading.’

Can an #ad hashtag be added to posts to identify them as promotional?

This was actually the FCA’s own suggestion, but caused confusion, with respondents saying it was a misuse of the hashtag function, so was rejected. Another reason was that most social media sites clearly identify adverts as such themselves, so there’s no need for further clarification.

Can hashtags be used as risk warnings, e.g. #capitalatrisk, #pastperf, etc?

Another no from the FCA. It believes that hashtags used in this way would be confusing to customers. It also worries about creating compliance issues, as clicking on the hashtag would link to a series of other messages that are not linked to the original post.

Can liking a post be deemed a financial promotion?

In a word, yes. That is – of course – if the post that’s been liked is promotional. So, if you like a customer’s tweet that talks about your firms ‘amazing deals’ – without any risk warnings – then you fall foul of the rules, as it is promotional language. If you like a tweet that praises your customer service, no problem – as the original message is not promoting a product.

In summary:

  • The FCA has reiterated that any social media post must obey all promotional rules, even if it links to a separate page
  • An #ad hashtag should not be used to identify promotions
  • Hashtags cannot be used to give risk warnings
  • Liking a post that promotes your own products is in contravention of FCA rules.

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