Peter Friedman, LiveWorld CEO at Social Media Week. Photo courtesy of Jay Bryant.How do companies delivering social media programs in highly regulated industries ensure smooth collaboration with their legal teams?
Involve them early and often, “and bring chocolate!” said Linda Descano, managing director and head of content and social at Citi, during New York’s Social Media Week. Her tip got a good laugh from the full house gathered for the series of panels hosted by LiveWorld and Pfizer on Feb 18. The panels explored social media in regulated industries, and our own Peter Friedman participated in two of the three.
Panelists from American Express, Phrma.org, MasterCard, Bloomberg, and Pfizer, among others, provided real-world success stories to show how brands in regulated industries are offering real value to customers and engaging them in meaningful conversations. They also spoke candidly about the challenges these brands face, including organizational barriers, noise in the market place, and the challenge of being spontaneous when the regulatory environment demands a rigorous internal review process.
Many heads in the crowd nodded when Andrew Bowins of MasterCard said, “We’re experiencing a period of content pollution, content not necessarily tied to business goals,” echoing a theme heard at many SMW14 panels. “Everyone’s a publisher these days.” Bowens and other panelists agreed that it’s particularly important for marketers in regulated industries to focus on business objectives, rather than blindly building sites and micro-sites, creating content, and jumping into new social media platforms. Being strategic and targeted can help keep internal review and monitoring manageable, and protects the brand from needless risk.
Panelists also offered many concrete solutions for social media managers in regulated industries, including:
- Go where the customers are, and treat each of those social platforms uniquely.
- Understand that the brand doesn’t need to be part of every conversation; weigh in where the brand has relevant insight and can add value.
- When it comes to customers’ privacy, err on the side of safety.
Despite the challenges, it was clear throughout the discussions that brands in regulated industries are, in fact, seeing opportunities and experiencing benefits from social media—a trend that will expand as regulation evolves, allowing for conversations with customers like never before.
Panelists even spoke to some benefits of operating within restrictions. When asked whether regulation stifled creativity in their social campaigns, Bloomberg, Social Media Marketing Manager, Michael Varallo, responded that he had experienced the opposite: Being forced to work within regulations actually encourages creativity and invention in his team’s social media efforts.
Thank you to Social Media Week’s organizers, and to everyone who participated in the panels, both speakers and audience! We’ll post the recordings of this event as soon as they’re available, so stay tuned.