The nature of social media makes it difficult for public relations professionals to manage the medium. Certain sectors, such as finance and pharmaceuticals, are heavily regulated, making it difficult for PR professionals to know what they should put online. Even third-party posts on a company’s social media platforms can raise legal issues.
The federal regularity agencies that regulate industries monitor social media but are slow in guiding many sectors on appropriate uses of social media. Companies can get stiff fines from these agencies. The financial and health sectors are heavily regulated and are wary of social media. This frustrates public relations professionals and consumers.
According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 8 out of 10 internet users search for health information online. It’s important the FDA makes timely and relevant guidelines for social media use to healthcare companies.
One challenge is knowing whether a consumer’s post on a company’s website or social media is considered company communication. This could be troubling, for instance, if a consumer posts a non-recommended use of a drug.
In the financial sector, FINRA recommends not posting anything about an investment unless approved by leadership of the firm.