Social media: love it or hate it, it’s here to stay. While for some it’s an addiction and for others an annoyance, and for others still an annoying addiction, social media has made its mark on society and continues to do so. As social media acts as a great platform to stay in touch with friends and loved ones it would make sense that it’s also a great tool in the business community. Not so fast, especially if you’re in a highly regulated market. Many communicators within the membership are eager to harness the power of social media; however, this is especially challenging for those of you in highly regulated industries, because there are limits on what you can and can’t do.
So how do we maneuver around, through, and over the regulatory hurdles? Well first take a deep breath as I’m sure you’ll be interested to hear that while we here at CEB’s Communications Executive Council are well aware of the regulatory concerns; in talking with our members about this topic, we’ve heard success stories from members in regulated industries who have made social media work for them!
As with any problem, I like to break it down into several smaller problems. This makes solving the problem easier, plus you start to look at the problem from several different angles, which gives you a more holistic view.
Now while we have put together a list of 6 principles to help guide your social media strategy, I’m only going to focus on a few of them here.
- Listen, Listen, Listen
Whether you like it or not, people are talking about your company. Some have nice things to say and others, well…not so much. Yet one way to stay current on the “chatter” is to increase your monitoring. Fortunately, there are companies in this space that track messages about your company and even provide context. This listening can help you make sure that when you do utilize social media, you’re using your words in a strategically targeted manner. See how to select the right social media vendor.
- Start on the Inside, and Share the Love
If you find yourself in a highly regulated market or you’re just curious to know how the public may perceive your messages, try utilizing an internal social media platform. This will allow you to garner feedback from your colleagues on what works well and what doesn’t before you send it off into the real world. Check out how to get started!
- “Friend” Your Legal Department
Regardless of whether or not you face strict regulatory hurdles, this is a sound strategy. The best way to begin this relationship is to have an open dialogue policy. That way everyone is on the same page and Legal will have a better understanding of your messaging strategy and likewise, you’ll better appreciate Legal’s constraints. In times of crises management, this relationship can prove invaluable, especially if you already have a plan of action should a crisis occur – which we recommend.
We know communicators are itching to put their social media knowledge to good use in the workplace. While the regulatory landscape may be hard to traverse, even for Legal, if you have something worth saying then you should feel confident that working closely with other departments within your firm will ensure a successful social media strategy and you’re the communicator – so lead the way!
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