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How should financial advisors and representatives handle Facebook's new star ratings?

Facebook is testing out a five-star rating system that allows users to rate and review a professional’s Facebook business page. These ratings can be made by any user, which means the user does not have to demonstrate that they know the professional or are a customer.
For financial professionals, this poses a question: Does this star rating feature on Facebook present issues for Registered Investor Advisors (RIAs) pursuant to the “Testimonial” Rule 206(4) of the SEC Investment Adviser Act of 1940?
Rule 206(4) states that advertisements cannot “use or refer to testimonials” (which include any statement of a client’s experience or testimonial). This is true of advertisements in print materials as well as advertising on electronic forums such as a Facebook Business Page.
The SEC’s staff has consistently interpreted testimonials to include a statement of a client’s experience with, or endorsement of, an investment adviser. Therefore, the use of “social plug-ins” such as the new Facebook “Star Ratings” feature could be deemed a “testimonial” under the Advisers Act.
While members should consult with their own legal and compliance departments as to the application of this feature with regulations restricting advertisements and other communications with the public, we suggest that RIA’s with a Facebook page should not accept ratings or reviews on the social network.
Facebook has not made it possible to block this new ratings feature, but RIAs can use a workaround to prevent their page from receiving star ratings. This workaround requires the financial professional to remove the map of business location (see illustration  and steps below). Please note that by doing so the map of the business location will not appear on the business page.

  • On your business page, go to the “About” section under the logo.
  • On the next page, hover over the “About” section and click “Edit.”
  • To the right of the “Address” section, click “Edit.”
  • Uncheck the box underneath the map that says “Show this map on your page and enable check-ins.”
  • Click “Save Changes”

Hearsay Social has indicated to Facebook that this feature might present a compliance risk for RIAs, and we are working with them on behalf of our clients to advocate for a solution that allows the map, but does not prompt users for check-ins or reviews.
If you have any additional questions about compliance on social media or Facebook star ratings, please feel free to leave a comment below or contact us directly.
We will keep you posted as more features change!

Disclaimer: The material available on this blog is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. We make no guarantees on the accuracy of the information provided herein.

How to make your Facebook Business Page more engaging

Every day, more and more organizations across several different industries are encouraging and even requiring their employees to engage with customers via social media. For non-marketers, starting a Facebook Business Page and connecting with your customers on social media can at first seem daunting.
As part of the Hearsay Social Customer Success team, I work full-time on coaching corporate teams to help their employees achieve higher conversions and brand loyalty through social media. When new users start going social, they often ask, “How do I get more ‘likes’ to my Facebook Business Page?” While likes are great for increasing your reach and the number of people able to see your content, the real million dollar question you want to ask is, “How do I get more engagement on my Facebook Business Page?” Likes are not as powerful if those fans are not liking, posting comments, and sharing your content with others.
Here are my top five suggestions for making your Facebook Business Page more engaging:

1. The social media rule of thirds

If your foot doctor had a Facebook business page (and they probably do), would you want him/her to publish Facebook posts about foot fungus and cracked heels every day? Probably not. It’s not fun to hear and it’s not relevant to your everyday interests. This is a pretty extreme example, but we can apply this same logic to insurance agents, real estate agents, car dealers and more. When deciding on what to post to Facebook day in and day out, keep your business talk in check by following the social media rule of thirds:

  • One third of the time, post about your business or brand. This includes your own blog posts and press releases, announcements about your upcoming events and speaking engagements, and other similarly self-promotional content.
  • One third of the time, post about topics or info directly related to your business, but using material from a third-party source. This includes news items from your favorite publications, graphs of analyst data visualizations, and other outside materials.
  • One third of the time, just show off your personality. This includes posting photos of the team hard at work (or at play!), friendly well wishes over holidays, and anything else that reminds your fans that behind the logo are real people.

2. Photos Please!

In case you aren’t familiar with EdgeRank, it’s Facebook’s algorithm that determines who sees what. Basically it determines what social media content, like posts, photos, and videos, you will see in your Facebook News Feed.
There are three criteria that make up EdgeRank: affinity, weight and recency. The part that most significantly impacts content engagement is the weight which corresponds to the type of post selected by the user. Some content types are considered more important than others and will have a higher probability of showing up in your fans’ News Feeds.
Here is the order of weight in EdgeRank:

a. Photos
b. Videos
c. Web Links
d. Messages (just text)

Make sure many of your posts have a picture or a video to secure a higher probably of having the post land in your fans’ Facebook News Feeds. The more frequently your photos appear there, the higher the chance that they will comment on it. In addition, photos are the most engaging type of content, which is why it is weighted higher in Facebook’s algorithm.

3. Short and Sweet

One of the many factors that has made Twitter successful is their 140 character limit. It forces people to be succinct. Even when posting on Facebook, where there is virtually no character limit, you should still write brief messages to be the most effective. Your fans want to quickly scan their News Feed to see what’s happening in the lives of their fans and friends. Make it easy on your fans by keeping your messages to less than 2-3 sentences (and remember that photo!). If they can read and understand your point quickly, they will have be more motivated to like and comment on your post.

4. Ask Questions

If you want engagement, why not ask them to engage? The easiest way to do that is to ask a simple question. When people know the answer or have an opinion, they feel the need to share. Example questions:

  • I’m planning my next vacation. What do you recommend?
  • I can’t believe it’s my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary! What’s the best restaurant for a group dinner?
  • What’s your life motto?

5. Schedule Posts for the Weekend

Believe it or not, Americans are not always outside playing in the yard on the weekends (and if they are, they have their mobile devices with them). Even on weekends and holidays, lots of people are checking their Facebook feeds and engaging with content there. In fact, businesses get 32% more consumer engagement on the weekends than on weekdays, according to Socialfresh. By the way, vacation isn’t an excuse for not posting on the weekends. Just login to Hearsay Social and schedule your posts in advance.
Hopefully you found these tips useful and can apply them next time you post from Facebook or Hearsay Social!