Before Getting Started with Social Media: Steps to Compliance

September 21, 2012 by

Social media is about relationships, and relationships take time to build. An important component to a good relationship is trust–it’s hard to build and easy to lose. You want to make sure you enter the social media realm fully prepared for any obstacles you might face. That’s why you want to work closely with your legal counsel and/or a compliance professional, if you have one on staff. So before you get involved in social media, inform yourself on the guidelines you need to follow.

Before getting started with social media:

    • Read over the regulatory notices issued by FINRA: Notices 12-29 and 11-39 and 10-06.
    • Refer to the NAIC whitepaper on social media. It covers insurance company and producer uses of social media, regulatory and compliance issues, and guidance for addressing those issues.
    • Contact the carriers you work with to get their stance on social media. Even if you don’t plan on mentioning them in your social media, you should check that they are okay with your use of it, and they may have some tips for you.
    • If you are regulated by FINRA, you must talk to your Broker/Dealer for their guidelines.
    • Look into how to capture and retain your social media posts. There are multiple companies that offer this service.
    • Create a social media policy, so everyone in your practice is on the same page with what is and is not acceptable.
    • Remember: Social media communications need to align with existing regulations—privacy, record retention, rules related to advertising and marketing, etc.

Entanglement Theory and Adoption Theory:

  • Don’t endorse unless you’re prepared to adopt. If you’re not sure what that means, you might want to talk more in-depth to someone familiar with compliance. Basically, if you link to an article or website you find interesting, you are then adopting all of the content on that page. That means that you can be held liable for that information even if you don’t agree with it.
  • Responding to comments in the comment section of a post may be considered adoption of that content. So if someone else comments and says something that could get you in trouble, it’s too late, and you’re already a part of it. It’s better to be cautious than to jump into a conversation without all the details.
  • On Facebook, when you’re in your company page account, clicking the “Like” button on another page may be considered endorsement.
  • As indicated in the NAIC whitepaper:
    • Entanglement Theory—when third-party content is attributable to an insurer and/or producer because the insurer and/or producer were involved with the preparation of the content, the insurer and/or producer is responsible for the content.
    • Adoption Theory—when third-party content is explicitly or implicitly endorsed by the insurer and/or producer, it becomes attributable to the insurer and/or producer and is then considered an insurer and/or producer communication with the public.


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