YouTube and compliance: Setting the record straight for financial advisors Article added by Amy McIlwain on January 23, 2014
Amy McIlwain

Amy McIlwain

Denver, CO

Joined: August 26, 2010

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Just after the clock struck midnight and we headed into 2014, we asked financial advisors what questions they wanted answered in the New Year about using social media in the financial services industry. You told us, and we listened.

In this article, we shed some light on YouTube use in a restricted industry. Can financial advisors take advantage of YouTube? Yes. How can you stay compliant? Read on.

Why YouTube?

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Video is a highly effective medium that can allow you to create engaging content that reaches the masses. Check out these stats:
  • 60 percent of boomers and 40 percent of seniors say watching online video on sites like YouTube has become an important part of their day. Seventy-five percent of boomers and 68 percent of seniors report taking some sort of action after viewing a video (Media Post).
  • 41 percent of seniors were encouraged by an online video to share a link of the video to someone else (Media Post).
Get on Google’s good side: Because Google owns YouTube, it’s no secret that using their products will increase your SEO and brand visibility.

Am I allowed to use YouTube?

Yes, of course. But just like other social media platforms, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, there are guidelines. It all comes back to the static versus dynamic content conversation. Static content includes your advisor website and social media profiles (not the feed). Videos can also be considered static content since they are a singular event that is unchanging. Static content needs to be approved by your compliance department in advance of publication.

Most social media activity is considered dynamic content, as it is unscripted and usually involves some type of real-time interaction. Facebook posts and tweets on Twitter are considered dynamic content. Any communication that can be commented on is usually considered dynamic also. This type of content does not need to be pre-approved, but it does need to be archived. As you can see, YouTube is in somewhat of a gray area because it’s both a video and part of a social media platform.

Remember the case last spring about the RIA who was fined $10,000 by FINRA for the misuse of posting videos on YouTube about annuities? (You can read more about this case here.) It’s no wonder we get so many questions about compliant YouTube use. As social media continues to evolve, so does the way financial advisors are using these platforms for marketing and their regulations. Therefore, if you want to get on YouTube, get out there, but make sure you’re following the rules.
So, what can I do to remain compliant?

You can follow these guidelines:
  • Before you dive in, double-check with your own compliance department to find out what is and isn’t allowed.
  • Treat YouTube videos as static content: Submit a script for pre-approval to your compliance team and turn off the comments and thumbs-up/thumbs-down functions.
  • Archive.
  • Add a disclaimer.
  • Include YouTube use in your company’s social media policy.
  • Let investors know that YouTube (and your other social networks) will be used for company announcements. In April 2013, the SEC announced that companies can use social media for company announcements, as long as investors have been informed of what types of social media will be used for this communication. (You can learn more here.)
  • The golden rule of social media: Don’t do anything on social media that you wouldn’t do off of social media. This includes language that you wouldn’t use on your website or in an educational seminar for your clients.
  • Share! When you make a YouTube video, embed it on your blog and link to it on your Facebook and Twitter feeds. The best part of YouTube is that it’s so easy to get your content out there on the Web for more people to see.
  • Have fun with it and get creative. Remember that social media is all about showing your personality. Had a fun team-building experience? Capture and share it with your followers. Moving into a new office? Take us on a virtual tour.
Do you have a YouTube account for your business? Is it in your marketing forecast for 2014? We would love to know. Share your experiences and goals below.

Please note: This article is for informational purposes only. We strongly encourage you to verify any content and information you use with your own compliance department or legal counsel.

See also:

Jackpot! 3 extreme social media success stories

10 quick tips for getting people to watch and like your videos

Social media and compliance: Do you have a policy for your firm?
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