Most of us are familiar with using social media to post status updates about our vacation, photos of our family, funny videos we find on YouTube, or tweeting about our favorite sports theme. However, when it comes to using social media for business purposes, it is important to understand that the rules are different. Anything you post can be considered a form of consumer advertising and as such you need to be careful not to post misleading or false information. This is especially true if you work in a regulated industry such as financial services, banking, healthcare, law, or pharmaceutical.
Have a Policy in Place
Thankfully, there are many ways to protect yourself from getting into trouble by what you and your employees are posting on social media. One of the most traditional ways to stay out of trouble is to have a good social media policy that clearly explains what is allowed and not allowed when posting information about your company and its products or services. There are many examples of good social media policies that you can find online. While a social media policy may minimize your liability as a company owner or an employee, it is simply not enough to insure you or your employees will not post something that can get you into trouble.
That is where social media compliance tools come in. Social media compliance tools allow a business to manage their employee’s use of social media by allowing them to post pre-approved content to their individual social network accounts or by providing a level of moderation or review before and after they post on social networks. Ideally, you want your sales representatives or team members to actively participate in social media. After all, the reach of many is much greater that the reach of one. However, you want to make sure that what your employees are posting meets with your governance guidelines and company policies.
Social media compliance tools allow you to set up workflows and policies that can control access to networks, content, and features so that your business is fully compliant. As previously mentioned, this is especially important if you own a business or work for a company in a government-regulated industry. These tools can help your company stay compliant with rules and regulations from the SEC, FINRA, Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPPA, PRA/FCA, and many more. Even if your company is not in a regulated industry, you will still find that social media compliance software can insure that trade secrets and other proprietary company or customer information is not posted on social networks by accident.
Social media compliance tools also help you with document retention and archival issues. This is especially important for regulated industry companies that are required to maintain documents for a determinate number of years. The definition of documents has been expanded with the explosion of communication via social technologies. Where as before, document retention policies only applied to actual documents and emails, today any type of social discussions, including blog posts, wikis and messages on activity stream are considered documents and subject to document retention requirements.
The problem with archiving these types of social “documents” is that in many instances the context has changed. In other words, there may be a blog post and a series of comments following that blog post. Over the course of time, the blog post may change and even the comments may change or get deleted. Therefore it is not sufficient to archive the blog and comments as they are today, but rather it is important to archive the “documents” in the context that occurred a few months ago. Fortunately, some of the sophisticated social compliance tools mentioned below provide that type of functionality.
Below is a list of the most popular social media compliance tools and platforms. As with most software, social compliance software provide solutions that range from point solutions that address one specific need or requirement, to fully enabled platforms that provide maximum compliance and security. As more companies and employees continue to integrate social media into their daily work and continue to use them as important communications tools, the importance and sophistication of social compliance software will continue to grow.
Actiance is perhaps the best-known social media compliance solution and is used by a large majority of companies in the financial services sector. They offer a full breadth of solutions on their platform that includes: Management and Control, Security, Archiving and eDiscovery. The Actiance solution is a robust solution that is perfect is your company is in one of the highly regulated industries.
Smarsh covers a broad range of archival and compliance solutions. Their main focus is to provide social media archiving solutions that enable an organization to manage compliance and record retention.
Socialware acts as a social middleware platform that allows a company to decide at what level they want to mange their company’s use of social media activity. You can deploy the solution company wide or restrict it to certain departments or groups. One of the nice things that Socialware has is a library of social compliance best practices and policies that keep users informed on the latest compliance issues and ways to address them.
Postbeyond is a new product that provides social media amplification and compliance. It allows organizations to centrally control what content is made available to share by their employees through their own social networks. The platform provides a great set of dashboards and analytics tools that give organizations great control and transparency to what is being shared and by whom while at the same time ensuring that only approved company content gets shared
Gremln helps companies stay compliant in regulated industries such as financial services and healthcare. Gremln’s social media management tools allows companies to prevent posts with restricted words and phrases and archives post for up to 10 years. It also has features that allows for organizational and approval workflow for content being posted to social networks.
No matter what your needs, social media compliance tools are a must have solution if your work for a company in regulated industries and are a good idea even for those that are not. Remember the old saying, “it’s better to be safe than sorry.”
Another version of this article originally appeared in EContent magazine on July 9, 2014