Social Media Governance in Regulated Industries – Part 1

Digital presence isn’t always enough.  In a market flooded with browsing material, customers are gravitating to social media as a more personal, relevant experience with the brands they use.  This migration puts pressure on our clients in regulated industries to engage their customers in unprecedented and uncomfortable spaces.

In addition to the squirming virtually every business does at the thought of public negative feedback, two-way social conversations unleash a host of privacy and compliance concerns within regulated industries.  Here are some of those very real and right concerns:

  • Do we have the internal constructs and precedent to allow us to do this?
  • How do we manage the challenge of user privacy?
  • What if someone reports a product complaint in a social space?
  • How do we staff the effort?
  • How do we listen?

Over the past year or so, I’ve been privileged to help a unique team within one of our client companies create a governance model for managing the social aspects of an open innovation initiative. Although the parent company has digital policies and procedures in place, there was little precedent for social media channels and few internal subject matter experts available to provide guidance.

What we did have, however, was a great deal of cumulative experience in building an internal support structure, navigating the local and global compliance requirements, and individuals with the knowledge, contacts, and savvy to cast the vision for our goals.  With these resources in hand we set out to blaze trails and learn how we could make social spaces valuable to both our customers and the client’s organization.  At the end of a year we have a still-evolving, but successful, governance model as the foundation for all our future social projects.

Every recipe will be different as every organization is different.  Still, we believe we’ve identified some critical ingredients that should be part of any successful social media governance model:

People – individuals do work and make things happen.  You need the right people in the right roles.

Documentation – be compliant, be accountable, be transparent

Local Processes – do the right things, the prescribed things, the valuable things

Tout Strategy – keep people onboard with the right knowledge, track progress, keep proving why it’s valuable

Create Shared Momentum – get people swim in a school rather than herd them toward an answer

We dubbed our governance model The Right Thing to Do, which is the spirit of the process, as well as our intention and the goal to which we aspire. In the following series, we’ll walk through our collective insights, trials, and errors regarding building a social media governance model, beginning with People.

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