10 elements regulated brands must consider before entering the social space

Today’s post is a guest post from Melanie Woods, Interactive Marketing Manager at UMB Financial Corp.  Melanie will be among the guest speakers at the upcoming Social Media for Financial Services and Regulated Industries forum Social: IRL is hosting at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City on Friday, May 11. This event is free to attend and while the focus will be on financial services, many other businesses will relate to the challenges being discussed (including privacy concerns, desire to control the message and protect the brand, risk and regulatory compliance, getting corporate buy-in).  All are encouraged to register.

Everyone knows by now you begin a social strategy with goals, key performance indicators, relevant content and a clearly defined social media policy. If you are in a regulated industry, you have to take a few more steps to reach a compliant social media strategy. Simply put, regulators consider social media (likes, posts, comments, ratings, etc.) from the brand, or its associates, another form of advertising; therefore, it’s subject to the same rules. The following elements are critical for regulated industries to remain compliant in the space.

1.       Risk assessment

2.       Archival process

3.       Compliance approval workflow

4.       Customer service integration

5.       Crisis plan

6.       Training and certification for anyone representing the brand

7.       Internal social media guidance council (compliance, legal, technology, human resources)

8.       Enterprise-wide social policy education

9.       External social policy

10.     Access controls

Regulators are updating their guidance on a regular basis to try and keep up with the ever changing landscape of social media. Thankfully, your friends in legal and compliance can help guide you through the regulated waters. If you are just getting into social, start by grabbing lunch with your legal and compliance departments. You will be spending a lot of time with them in the future.

Finally, people always ask me if I think every brand should be on social. My answer is, if your audience is there and you have content they want or would find helpful, then YES. However, if your audience isn’t there, then you need to focus on the channels they are in, but closely monitor shifts. And, if you don’t have content worth sharing, then you have bigger problems to solve before you consider social media.

If you can do social in a regulated industry, you can do it anywhere! Cheers to all of those who are paving the way in regulated industries.