Highly regulated companies tiptoe into social media

Healthcare companies, financial services firms and others are taking advantage of social media, even while awash in rules. Here's how they do it.

By Linda Melone, Computerworld |  Unified Communications, social media, Social Networking

One of the first steps in resolving customer issues is to separate actionable complaints from people who simply want to vent, says Brown. From there, helping customers resolve problems must exclude, by law, giving financial advice via social networks.

"While you may post a note to a friend about an investment, when you are licensed, you can't use certain terms such as mutual fund without it triggering the need for a disclosure," says Brown. "We make sure we go through the right compliance reviews before it's posted so nothing gets out there that shouldn't be posted."

This involves the bank's vendors "along with our legal and compliance partners to ensure we have the right oversight in place, but also the ability to be timely in posting and responding on social media channels," Brown says.

Best Practices

Tips for Going Social in a Regulated Industry

1. Work with the legal department, human resources and other groups to understand regulatory and legal requirements and create policies and procedures that work for all constituencies: regulators, employees and customers.

2. When in doubt about whether you're in compliance, take a public conversation into a more private venue, like email or the telephone.

3. Educate anyone in your company who's involved in social media about your policies. Explain why those policies exist, and discuss the best ways to use social media while remaining in compliance with regulations.

4. Like a company in a less regulated industry, develop a social media voice that's true to your brand, respond quickly to negative comments, and provide lots of relevant and updated content -- so people have a reason to come back.

5. Always disclose your connection to your company (including your title and the department you work in) when you comment or ask a question on social media.

- Linda Melone

Similar Rules

Insurance industry regulations also require due diligence regarding social media interactions. Generally speaking, these are "the same rules that apply to advertising," says Michele Wingate, social media manager at American Family Insurance in Madison, Wis.

Conversations or interactions posted by agents -- or anything on a social network -- must be archived in case they are needed for a response to any future legal challenge, Wingate says. To do that, American Family uses social media management software from Shoutlet, a provider of cloud-based social marketing tools.


Originally published on Computerworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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