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Why Highly Regulated Industries Should Embrace Social Media

Posted on July 15, 2015


Liz Aberg, Business Support Specialist for the State of Oregon, has tips for managing your social media and increasing your engagement. Along with a full-time job, Liz is a graduate student at Quinnipiac University, Master of Science (M.S.). She has prior experience as a writer for the Federal Mirror Way and Roseville Press Tribune.

Why highly regulated industries should embrace social media

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By Liz Aberg – LinkedIn and Twitter

Social media is evolving quickly into an engagement platform. What once was a simple vehicle for brand self-promotion and “like-us-because-we-are-so-great,” is now a must-be place to connect meaningfully with followers. But what about the tight rules facing highly regulated industries? One slip-up on social media could mean big trouble for those in health care, pharmaceuticals, law, banks, alcohol and beverage and the financial industry. It’s no wonder companies in these fields have shied away from fully embracing digital social efforts.
Strict rules and compliance laws don’t have to keep regulated industries from participating any longer. A good community manager can help navigate the seas of doubt to guide these industries to a safe social media harbor. Regulatory bodies such as the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), for example, have comprehensive guidelines so that companies can participate in social media and stay compliant.

It will take a bit of elbow grease in the form of drafting and implementing a sound social media policy for both internal and external customers in addition to adhering to regulatory guidelines, but the effort will be worth it. Social media can easily translate into new business. According to Strella Social Media, nearly 36 percent of consumers take action after viewing a financial service brand or product on social sites. That number nearly doubles for potential clients looking at a law firm’s legal blog to assess a firm’s capabilities. In the medical and health industry, nearly four out of ten consumers use social media to find health-related reviews.

Social media community managers in highly regulated industries can and should leverage their full job roles and functions such as educating internal teams, customer education, crisis planning, status and analytics reporting as well as social media listening. Again, while the rules confine full engagement, the social media manager should listen to all client messages and respond appropriately, even if it’s a simple “thank you” to a satisfied client who’s reached out on a social channel. It helps to humanize the brand. Additionally, managers can act as guardians to prevent the publication of spam-related websites as well as remove posts that reveal personal information on social media.
download (4)Two companies in highly regulated industries are standouts with their social media efforts. Citibank and Boston Children’s Hospital were recent lecture topics in my social media graduate course. Both organizations are showing that it’s possible to comply with regulations and succeed at great social media. Citibank maintains an active Twitter and Facebook presence by responding to customer service questions and problems quickly and efficiently. A look at their Twitter feed, @askCiti reveals numerous customer service related dialogue. Boston Children’s Hospital must be fully compliant with HIPPA laws, yet its social media team posts links to inspiring stories of its young patients. The organization also does a great job with employee recognition and safety related news and blog links.
Other brands like Liberty Mutual, Chase and Visa have fully embraced social media. By humanizing their brands, marketing campaigns shifted from pushing products to embracing customer passion. Visa’s “#GoInSix” campaign compelled Facebook followers to post visually interesting, must-see, gotta-be-there photos. Similarly, social media managers posted Twitter conversation starters and six-second films on Vine. The effort was a huge success and propelled Visa from seventh to first place in the financial services category on Facebook.
Social media is possible when used smartly and strategically even when the rules and regulations seem daunting. Where others see a minefield, a good social media manager can create a masterpiece.

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