LONDON--The UK’s Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) is rethinking its social media strategy, as part of its efforts to help resolve the increasing number of disputes between consumers and financial service providers.

The independent body has held talks with a handful of agencies regarding its social media requirements, and is understood to be close to hiring a firm for a new project.

According to Emma Parker, who heads media and customer research at the FOS, the organisation is looking for strategic social media advice, to help it gauge the appropriate level of engagement with various social media channels.

“What we wanted to do is look at what agencies were available, and if there was one that could provide strategic social media advice in terms of how people use social media to resolve disputes, and how we can appropriately interact in that,” said Parker.

“People interact in a range of channels to ask us advice and information, and we want to make sure we can meet the needs of all of our customers,” she added. “There are some people who are more comfortable accessing us via SM rather than writing a letter to us.”

The FOS currently has a low-profile Facebook page with few posts and fans, and a similarly modest Twitter presence.

The project will mark the first time that the FOS has tapped social media agency input. “Rather than rushing ahead, we would rather look at the strategic advice, to make sure what we are doing is appropriate,” said Parker.

The FOS last week revealed that complaints soared by 54 percent in the first half of this year, compared to the second half of 2010.