Social media compliance and big business

It’s one small step for Twitter, one giant social media leap for Goldman Sachs!

Earlier this year Goldman Sachs did something it had never done before in its 143-year history. It embraced social media by sending out its first ever tweet.

For highly regulated industries like the finance industry, the pharmaceutical industry or the insurance industry, social media can be a legal mine field so many companies in these areas are slow to embrace it. Indeed, many simply avoid social media altogether.

However, in a post-internet world where consumer conversations are increasingly taking place online, and consumers spend as much time on the internet as they do watching TV, simply ignoring social media and ‘hoping for the best’ is no longer a viable option for large businesses.

However, with a well defined social media strategy and a clear compliance process, there’s no reason why any company can’t embrace social media. Nevertheless, there are obviously some in-house ground rules to sort out before a company decides to send its first tweet or post its first status update.

Firstly, a firm needs to draft a detailed social media policy which clearly outlines what it wants to achieve through social media and how it wants to use it. The policy should have input from all the major teams in the organisation too. For example, marketing should outline what should be communicated and when, legal and compliance should outline the legal guidelines on social media and how to ensure they are adhered to, and customer services should detail how they intend to interact with customers online and respond to inbound messages. A procedure should also be drawn up which details how the company will deal with any complaints or queries through its sites.

Secondly, a training policy needs to be put in place. Staff need to be trained on how to use Facebook and Twitter etc. in a corporate environment and a business needs clear guidelines on who can tweet or post updates and when. A company should then undertake periodic reviews of its social media content to ensure it complies with agreed company guidelines. All social media content should also be archived for an agreed period of time in case a company ever has to produce social media records – increasingly likely in the years to come as more companies do business online.

Also, a company needs to ensure it’s up to speed with the rules and regulations on competitions, promotions and endorsements. The improper running of these can get a company into big trouble; not only with the social media site itself but also the law. For example, are you aware of the difference between a valid competition and an illegal ‘lottery’? If not, then your company needs to be and this should be fed into the overall social media policy.

However, none of the above is exactly rocket science so there’s really no reason why a firm can’t embrace social media and start using it to its advantage. Of course, there are plenty of social monitoring tools out there to help a business manage its social media platforms and make the transition from offline to online that little bit easier: HootSuite and hearsaysocial being two good examples.

Indeed, CEOs should get in on the social media act too. The BRANDFog 2012 CEO Survey says that more than 82% of respondents are likely or much more likely to trust a company whose CEO and team engage in social media!

So, what are you waiting for? After all, if Goldman Sachs can do it, then surely anyone can?


Mixing tradition and digital marketing technology

At this stage we’re increasingly used to seeing QR codes on everything from newspapers to packaging and even TV. But have you ever seen one made from stone?
The Portuguese tourist board decided to combine historical tradition with new marketing technology to create a unique way to promote Portugal as a tourist destination.
One of the newest tools in digital marketing, QR codes, was made from a unique art with over 500 years of history, Portuguese cobblestone. The QR code of stone was then placed on the streets of Lisbon and further afield for travellers to scan and find out more about Portugal.
The end result was a world first for QR codes and a pretty cool marketing idea too!
Click the link below to find out more.

The internet, social media and the question of censorship

Twitter has long been a passionate defender of free online speech and has routinely fought hard against internet censorship and government requests to remove content from its site.

But earlier this week, Twitter did just that.

The company censored a controversial account run by neo Nazis at the request of local government. The ban was the first of its kind under a relatively new Twitter policy that gives the company “the ability to reactively withhold content from users in a specific country — while keeping it available in the rest of the world.” As a result, the ban is only effective in Germany. The rest of the world is free to follow the account if they wish to.

Regardless of the account and the content in question, was Twitter right to succumb to the local government’s request for censorship and does this set a bad precedent for censorship of the internet and social media in particular?

Is big business too social media shy when it comes to customer service?

New findings from Genesys Research shows that big businesses are still uneasy with embracing social media when it comes to customer service. For example, more than half (55%) of consumer-facing Fortune 500 businesses do not provide their Twitter ‘handles’ on the ‘Contact Us’ page of their websites, making it more difficult for customers to engage with them over social media networks.

Additionally, despite the fact that Facebook has 900 million users across the world, only half of these businesses (51 per cent) provide a link to their Facebook page on the “Contact Us” section of their company website.
Is this the right strategy for big companies to adopt, especially when you consider how public social media conversations can be? Are big companies right to be wary of allowing customers vent any of their problems and complaints through a social media forum? Or should big business simply accept the inevitable, embrace social media fully, and accept that it has to be a two-way conversation and that the pros outweigh the cons?
Regardless of the answer, this underlines the importance of companies having a detailed and well thought through online strategy in place before they decide to embrace social media as a channel of communication. However, as a new generation of consumers gets more and more used to communicating online, perhaps companies will have no choice but to embrace social media fully and take the good with the bad…

Is social media now a currency?

Who needs to pay with money when you have Twitter!

Kelloggs were looking to put a value on social media conversations. So they built a pop-up shop in Soho, London, where people could buy their products, not by paying cash, but by tweeting about their brand instead! The campaign was simple and cost effective, and it encouraged an online social media conversation about a very traditional brand. 


QR codes – are we using them to their full potential?

Similar to bar codes, QR codes can store data that can be read by a scanner. What makes them better than the familiar bar code, however, is that a QR code can store up to several hundred times more data in a smaller space.

QR codes are now one of the latest ‘in’ things for marketeers. But are they being used to their full potential?

A bar in Singapore thought outside the box and used them as a ‘flirting’ tool for its customers! Needless to say, beer sales doubled…

Social media – is it really as important as we think?

Practicially every consumer-facing company nowadays has its own Twitter and Facebook page and many have invested heavily in social media over the past few years.

However, while social media may work well as a channel of communication, a recent study from Forrester Research suggests it does almost nothing to drive sales.

Is the relentless focus of companies on social media and Web 2.0 technologies therefore justified? Or is social media about far more than just making sales? …