Social Media Governance in Regulated Industries – Part 3 – Documentation

And now on to the most exciting, stimulating topic in regulated industries: documentation! I kid, I kid. Regulated Industries know the value and the burden of documentation. It may seem an inherent contradiction that you’re reading a blog titled ‘Project Agility’ and we’re discussing documentation, but it isn’t, I assure you. Agile is not messy and it is not wasteful. It is enough process/documentation/direction to be valuable and lets the work speak for the rest. ‘Enough’ is the key in regulated industries. If you have the privilege of blazing new trails with social media in your company, you also have a unique opportunity to work well within the guidelines of your regulated industry while also providing lean documentation.


Before we discuss some artifacts and practices that I’ve found valuable with other clients, I must make a disclaimer. Step One in building your documentation is to know what your company and industry requires. I probably won’t be of much help to you there. What I can give you is this advice: do an analysis before you jump in.

  1. Find all the procedures and processes that are applicable to your situation.  Don’t know them?  Find the people who do (see my previous post).
  2. Read the procedures and requirements.
  3. Be mindful of what is required versus what is given as a recommendation.
  4. Vet the expectations with your stakeholders and project owner.
    • Ensure they understand the required deliverables and artifacts
    • Build a quick RACI so they can understand the resource impact of the internal requirements.
    • Show them where these deliverables and artifacts will live, either in company established locations or a local location that will be accessed by colleagues outside your team.
  5. Make a high level plan for getting it all done.  Show what has to come first, what can happen in parallel, etc.

That, of course, is an oversimplification of the process. Every company is different and two days spent in analysis and getting your stakeholders and project owner on board will go a long way to repeat success with social media projects.

Now that  I have had the chance to pass on what I consider the value in this post, how you can prove that social media can be compliant, accountable and transparent? Going above and beyond the company required documentation may be as simple as reframing one of their deliverables in a more valuable way, combining other requirements, etc. Here are some constructs I’ve found valuable in regulated industries to support launch, maintenance, and project closure.


Build a Charter!  It should include:

  • The purpose of the project – what you are doing and why you are doing it
  • The tools you are using – include the platform itself as well as any add-ons, apps or third party functionality
  • A team roster, with names, roles and role descriptions
  • How you will measure success – be explicit about your goals, how they will be measured and to whom they will be reported
  • A specific review period for the project and where review records will be held

A charter goes beyond compliance and can also be an effective way to introduce your project to the people you need to get your project launched. Sell it! Be high level for executive eyes but be explicit in covering the compliance hot spots for your industry.

Record Consensus!

Approach friendly faces in the appropriate departments (e.g. your Compliance Review Committee) and get their feedback or approval on the Terms of Use and Privacy statements for the platforms and tools you intend to use. Record the approval! If you followed any of the advice in the People installment you aren’t in this alone and the documentation should reflect that.

Content is King – Manage it with a Content Management Strategy

User generated content is possibly the hottest area in regulated industries. Be proactive—show how you will manage user generated content with a content management strategy. A simple flowchart clarifies what types of content should trigger what types of interactions. Share the strategy with those who manage regulatory compliance within your organization and get their buy-in. Record it! In general, a content management strategy should answer these questions:

  • What kind of content requires additional action?
  • Who is monitoring for that kind of submission?
  • How frequently are they monitoring?
  • What action will be taken?
    • Be clear about who, when and how.
    • Describe the content management tools and their capabilities within the chosen platform.  Do you have the ability to remove a user’s post, for example?
    • How will the action be escalated, if necessary, to the appropriate organizations within your company?
    • How will your team or the company respond?  Will they respond?


Keep an Inventory

Build a simple inventory where all your social projects are stored. A best practice is to have a high-level chart with columns for each necessary artifact and a link to that artifact. Don’t make your reviewers and team scroll through endless pages of documentation to find what they need to be transparent and accountable.

Track Exceptions—anything out of ordinary expectation or operation

  • Keep track of any content issues that are raised via your content management strategy and how they were resolved
  • Keep track of any guest content creators
  • Keep track of any service interruptions and how they were resolved

Track Success!

Keep an inventory of your goals and measures and periodically record the results. Also keep track of any cross-platform conversions. Show, for example, how many of your Facebook followers came from your Twitter Stream. Or, how a Four Square check-in drove a user to the company website. Social media is a living system and just one part of your digital presence.

Record your Local Procedures

I’ll discuss recommendations for local procedures in my next post. All procedures should be recorded along with their effective dates, review periods, and the body of the procedure.


Create a Retirement Plan

Regulated industries have project closing procedures to rival any project launch. It is important to understand where the information is going, how it is stored, and how that affects your users and their privacy. Having this plan in place Before you launch exhibits vigilance.

  • First understand your company’s requirements and adhere to those. See Step One.
  • Describe how the platform and tools being used handle closing a profile, account, or presence.
  • Describe where the content will go and where it will be stored.
  • Lay out the communication process you intend to use with your users. Will you give them 15 days notice for example? Or, will users be notified after the fact?

Just Do It: and Move On

Documentation isn’t thrilling and is often associated with waste and tedium. By taking the time to analyze the true expectations and the course of action for your project you can turn documentation into a powerful tool for getting stakeholders on board, gaining a reputation for vigilance, and communicating the continuous value your social media project brings to your company.


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