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Will the FCA’s consultation on social media usage change the way we communicate online?

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The FCA opened up a consultation, which ended on 6th November 2014, to create a new regulatory framework around the financial sector’s use of social media for promotions. The uncertainty around what is deemed ‘acceptable’ for communication on social sites has forced the FCA to review and possibly consolidate guidelines. How social media will be regulated in the future is still up for debate. However, the FCA is right to welcome public feedback.

Social sites such as Facebook and Twitter are now very much a mainstream communication tool between insurers and consumers and these new measures are designed to ensure that, going forward, content is fair, clear and not misleading. Naturally this poses the question, ‘what can be interpreted as misleading?’

The use of non-branded micro-sites throws a question mark into the mix. Could a social site maintained by an insurer, but without any recognisable branding, be perceived as misleading? As I have my own Twitter account (@garyhdb9), should my posts be regulated? It would be wrong to pull the strings too tight and remove scope for creativity and innovation – we’re about putting the fun into insurance after all!

Markerstudy use social channels to speak to brokers, partners and consumers about new and existing products but we accept that there is a need for judgement and common sense about how we communicate our messages online. The potential for our material to land in front of unintended recipients through retweets and sharing must be considered by our digital teams before promotions are marketed.

The fast growth of social media ensures that new and exciting ways of communicating will keep emerging as potential tools for marketing. In the ever-changing digital world it’s inevitable that regulation will continue to evolve too, so it’s up to insurers to regulate their own channels to protect the customer and themselves.

You can see all responses submitted to the FCA consultation online by searching #smfca on Twitter.

Did you respond to the FCA during their consultation period? How would you like regulations around social media and the financial sector to shape in 2015?

Author, Gary Humphreys

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