Staying Compliant on Social—Advice and Musings from the Experts

By Emily Copp

Social

It’s not always simple for brands in regulated industries to get on board with social media. There are risks, and the legal processes offered on traditional communication channels like email aren’t easily replicated.

Now, thanks to technology—which allows brands to automate important regulatory processes—these companies can be on social in a safe and secure way.

We chatted with Mike Pagani, senior director of product marketing and chief evangelist at Smarsh, an archiving and compliance solution, about how to stay compliant on social.

Q&A with Mike Pagani from Smarsh

What are key elements of a compliant social media strategy?

We believe there are four components of a successful social media strategy.

First, define where your company is at on the social media maturity scale. For example, do you have one team working on social, or is social media spread across your entire organization and tied to broader business objectives? You need to understand exactly where you’re at before you can start planning.

Second, educate your employees about social media security and implement a formal social media policy. A social media policy will help guide your employees’ appropriate use of corporate and personal profiles. A key part of social media education is how you choose to implement it. Is this department-wide policy or organization-wide? What are the roles and responsibilities? Workflows and processes for each person or team?

Third—and this can be done in tandem with the previous component—start social media monitoring. This is where you have to chat with your product teams, marketing department, heads of business, leadership teams, etc. to find keywords and phrases around your brand. This will help you listen to your customers, keep an eye on your competitors, and understand what shifts are happening in your industry.

The fourth component is where Smarsh fits in, because we’re a comprehensive archive platform technology. We help you effectively monitor and enforce policies, workflows, and processes that you’ve set up. This ensures that you have all the right information at hand if you’re ever scrutinized for potential violations, especially in a regulated industry, like financial services.

Social media adoption—what are some of the barriers that companies in regulated industries still need to overcome to get there?

The toughest part about social media adoption is getting everyone in your business—from marketing to compliance—on the same page. Usually marketing initiates the process and compliance is a bit more reticent with social media. Education is the solution to that problem. Your organization needs to be aware of what the risks are and what technology is available to help mitigate those risks.

Today, saying “no” to social media isn’t really an option for brands. Once you understand what the guidelines are from regulators like FINRA and SEC it’s a lot more manageable.

What are some of the emerging social media trends that companies and individuals in regulated industries need to stay on top of?

I would say, in terms of trends, to spot the use cases that are driving adoption. For example, we have a customer in Florida that is focused on generating more tourism through business conferences—and they have a lot of visual content. They decided to use Pinterest so that people coming in for conferences could post pictures to their branded page.

Their marketing team was really excited about the opportunity, but their compliance team was understandably concerned from a regulatory standpoint, particularly with the Freedom of Information Act and The Sunshine Act. Well, this is where technology plays a role in solving those compliance issues. Using Smarsh, they were able to make sure that all Pinterest content was compliant and archived.

Before technology offered a solution, this would not have been possible for a local government to do—there was just too much risk. Now, brands in all industries can be much more in tune with what their customers want and use technology to make sure they’re doing it safely.

Can you give us an example of a company or industry that’s successfully using social media to grow their business while remaining compliant? What can others learn from them?

A lot of companies in the financial services industry archive email and instant messages. But now, they’re finding that it’s really easy to branch out to social media by using compliance solutions that allow for social media archiving. Due to this leap in technology, we’re seeing a big surge in adoption from this industry. You can understand why: when a marketing team wants to run a campaign or try out something new on social, they can go to compliance and compliance can approve their request because there’s a mechanism in place to protect the brand.

How can businesses empower their employees to use social media to connect with customers and prospects while still remaining compliant?

You have to respond to technology advancements with advanced technology—you need tools that can help you automate, archive, and retrieve data for your employees. We can use LinkedIn as the perfect example. If a person has a professional LinkedIn network of 5,000 people and they join a financial services company, they’d like to leverage that network. Unfortunately, if there’s no way to archive those conversations, then the individual has to start building their network from scratch.

Because of technologies like Smarsh—that provide a facility for people to opt in to the archiving and compliance governance—they can now leverage their existing professional network at new financial firms.

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