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?

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3 thoughts on “Social media compliance and big business

  1. I really haven’t seen a lot of financial and pharmaceutical related companies embracing social media and I believe the reason being that they can be easily caught up in a legal action since they are regulated as well as if people start some negative reviews about their products or services then they can get into a good intensity legal battle.

    • It’s definitely more difficult for financial companies and pharmaceutical companies to embrace social media but I think that with the right plans in place and the necessary staff training and internal company safeguards, there’s no reason why companies in these areas can’t embrace it more going forward.

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