And with (a) good reason – FSA social media guidelines haven’t been updated or clarified since 2010.

Social frameworks can quickly become redundant/lost, as the medium itself is moving and growing so quickly (in 2010 half of Twitter’s user base were “listen only”, in 2012 76% users actively post Tweets, Instagram launched in 2010 and now has over 100m active users)…

The inevitable? Marketers are always playing catch-up, deciphering and translating what guidelines mean for new platforms, new interactions, situations and so on.

At first direct we have a few guidelines in place to ensure we navigate any social media “minefield” as smoothly as possible:

Get the idea of doing something in “social” approved in principal by senior teams first (including legal and risk).

Start with a broad definition at a senior level and have a plan for how you’re going to manage the risk before you engage. This will most probably focus on staff training (and access), and monitoring.

Above all it’s important to remember Legal and Risk teams can help you identify potential risks.

It will also include….

…an escalation process…

This will involve getting buy-in from customer service teams. If you’re going to open up a new channel through which people can engage with you, there has to be an acknowledgement that customers may try to seek answers from you though it.

Establish some ground rules with customer service teams as to how you might handle this. They will probably want to know the level of inbound queries to expect and this isn’t too hard to predict – use a free monitoring service to understand how many people are talking about your brand, then look at the goals you’ve set for your campaign, this should give you a good idea of the extent to which you want to increase the level of conversation.

…and a “pull out” plan…

You’re not doing this with the intention of closing down your social properties but the risk team will want to know you’ve thought about how to get out of there before they sign off on your idea.

Diarise a content meeting

Prepare content delivery well in advance and keep relevant stakeholders in the loop. Most businesses are (despite often being unaware) content-rich, so alignment’s important to avoid a fragmented output.

We run a two week in advance central content calendar with messaging and draft posts across our platforms – this is then circulated to relevant reps across first direct at the end of each week.

The whole process takes about an hour for the meeting and a couple of hours each across the week and ensures that we all have a good idea of what content exists, where it’s being held and when it will be going live.

Allocate adequate resource to monitor and respond,whilst managing audience expectations.

At first direct we have three staff members monitoring our social media and online customer forums 24hrs a day running in shifts, and we make our customers fully aware of that.

Of course, this isn’t practical for every business, but the most important thing is to establish the response period and make your audience aware of it. It’s fine to say that social properties will only be manned within office hours, as long as you make it clear that this is the case.

Have social measurement and analytics ready from the get-go.

Just as with any marketing output, social has to justify its place at the table. But rather than “likes”, “RTs” and “shares”, place the focus on building a narrative around analytics. Explain how your campaign goals map to the business’ goals, and then explain how each of your chosen indicators shows that you’re making progress

What all of this is really trying to say, is that it’s tough to get social campaigns off the ground in an environment where legislation and regulation mean that doing so creates a lot of work for the legal and risk teams – so, it’s crucial to prep in advance. Sell the vision at a senior level, initially take small manageable steps and know what’s coming next.

New year, new budgets – good luck.