A webinar conducted on Thursday by Hootsuite, the social media dashboard service, covered challenges faced by firms in regulated industries like financial services when they use social media to connect with customers and clients.
In addition to complying with the regulations imposed by regulating bodies in their industry, firms must also find a way to link their social media strategy with their larger business objectives, according to Jonathon Reedy, a senior manager at Hootsuite.
Firms must also find a way to turn the social data they collect into action. “Data alone is useless,” Reedy said. “When you can couple your data with tools that provide real insight and are useful not just to the business but the client base as a whole, it lays the framework for strong client relationships.”
Educating employees on social media is a “resource intensive” challenge, Reedy said, and an important part of any internal policy. “It’s top of mind for all marketing executives and compliance executives, as a top priority for avoiding catastrophe in social: making sure the teams are well educated, making sure they understand the policy, making sure they understand the social landscape and the repercussions of their actions.”
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Collaboration between teams in a firm is becoming more common, Reedy said. He said Hootsuite clients are taking social tasks “enterprise-wide.” That means, according to Reedy, that they’re “enabling the organization to share tasks globally. They’re bringing in external social information into internal tools. The result is that their teams are better able to work together. They have more access to critical information immediately.”
Reedy said that regulated markets tend to be slow to adopt new technology, choosing to wait for regulatory guidelines and action from other participants to “move in a herd.” However, he said, “I think we’re over that hump now. Almost all of the Fortune 1,000 firms have at least some social presence. Many of them have adopted an organization-wide social practice.”
A similar pattern happened when firms started adopting email in the early 1990s, he said, where some firms were wary or unsure of how to use it. Obviously that’s changed, and Reedy said the same movement is happening with social media, and will likely happen even faster.
One of the biggest growth areas for companywide social media is in selling, he said. Social provides firms with a way to find customers who need their product, and allows them to tailor their communication to their prospects, Reedy said.
Reedy suggested that in developing a compliance strategy for social media use, firms take a top-down approach and start by educating C-level executives on how and when to use it.
Nick Hayes, an analyst with Forrester Research, said that firms’ biggest concerns when it comes to using social media were legal and regulatory risk (89%), followed by risks to their brand (81%). He said that not owning the infrastructure of the channels social posts are going out on exacerbates those concerns for many firms.