Social Media in a Regulated World: Part 1 – Building Your Game Plan

Posted by Kim Neumann on December 12, 2016

When you’re in a regulated industry, it can feel like your hands are tied. What you say, how you say it, it’s all different in the world of FDA-regulated brands. There’s a level of government oversight that just doesn’t exist with other industries.

Enter social media. It’s great for business, right?

Business loves social media. And no wonder. The benefits are many:

  1. Better communication with shareholders and customers
  2. Increased transparency
  3. Real-time customer support
  4. Cost-effective promotion of products and services
  5. Product improvement via direct customer responses/conversations
  6. Community building and industry leadership 

And yet – social media stirs up anxiety for CEOs and marketers of herbal supplements.

Understandably so.

Highly-regulated brands have always been subject to a wide range of guidelines, from the vague to the explicit, about efficacy, labeling, safety and claims. One way to sum up social media use is with Facebook's familiar words, "it’s complicated."


Social Media Monitoring 10 Minutes a Day Ebook


A certain amount of risk-aversion is healthy. Leaving opportunity on the table however, isn’t so healthy for business growth.

So with all that extra scrutiny, how do regulated brands move forward confidently into the social arena?

Part 1 of this article is all about helping you do just that. We'll establish an official game plan so that you too can harness the power of social media – safely and effectively. Let's dive in.

Social Media in a Regulated World: Part 1 – Building Your Game Plan

Step 1: Create a social media committee working group

First you’ll want to get everyone involved who needs to be. Your social media committee working group should be made up of legal, compliance, sales, marketing, business operations, and IT. This committee should stay abreast of the present and future prospective regulatory environment for your regulated industry, including FTC guidelines.

Step 2: Develop a corporate social media policy

Next, you’ll want to determine how the company is going to acquire and make use of social media data. Cite current FTC guidelines and reach an agreement on what constitutes regulatory and legal permitted use. And don't forget to update your company’s privacy policy if necessary.

Step 3: Formulate social media processes & procedures

Your social media processes and procedures should be informed by both your corporate policies and industry regulations. They should include:

  1. Content compliance. Every employee handling social media should be attentive to internal guidelines and company policies.
  2. Approvals. Every piece of content should be approved by respective department heads – legal, marketing, corporate, etc.
  3. Social media monitoring. Every conversation and content that mentions your company should be monitored. Remember, this doesn’t mean responding to every mention. You can learn more about the benefits of monitoring with Social Media Monitoring in Ten Minutes a Day.

These three elements – your social media committee working group, corporate social media policy and social media processes & procedures – form the backbone to all your social media marketing activity.

With your internal game plan now firmly established, you can take the next step in developing a social media content plan that’s aligned with your business goals.

Stay tuned! Part 2 of this article is coming soon, where we'll be discussing how to build a rock-solid social media presence. 

Topics: Social media, FDA, Regulations

Written by Kim Neumann