If you are reading this article, there is a high chance you are either implementing social media at your company, or want to scale your operations. The value of social media is becoming increasingly apparent to businesses, even in traditional and regulated industries, who are still trying to get their feet wet with social media. The main challenge is how exactly you execute on your social media plans and extract the ROI while complying with regulatory requirements. Here are some best practices specific to the businesses in regulated industries:

  1. Goals and Strategy: This applies to all industries, but it’s even more important for regulated businesses. Executing social media strategy in a regulated environment is challenging to start with; so start with crisp goals and define a clear path to achieve those goals. Draw out a tactical plan, decide who within your company will be involved, who your audience really is, which channels are important to you, what messages you want to deliver, how you will measure the outcome, and so on. Do not make the mistake like most other businesses – they get into social media just because their competitors are there, which results in negative ROI (yes, I said negative – we can discuss that separately).
  2. Policies: Developing policies and procedures for every type of role and use case is one of the first steps you would need to take. You will need to work with Legal, HR, and other departments depending on your industry and company structure. Drafting these policies requires good understanding of regulatory, compliance and legal issues within your industry.
  3. Training: Ongoing training and enforcement of your policies is important for everyone who is involved in social media on company’s behalf. Emphasis should be on how to leverage full benefits of social media while remaining in compliance.
  4. Tread with caution: It is easy to get carried away on social media. If you are ever in doubt, high on emotion, or want to respond in a rush of the blood moment – wait, calm down! You’ll always be better off if you take a breather and come back to it. Once posted, you are stuck with it. So, be very careful. If it is a sensitive issue, it is always better to discuss in a private setting rather than replying on twitter or another public forum.
  5. Relevant and consistent content: This applies to all industries alike. You have to ensure that messages going out to your social media channels are consistent. This consistency has to be channel specific as various social circles respond differently to specific type of content. The last thing you want is to confuse customers with your messages. It also helps to personalize your messages and bring a human element to it instead of robotic posting. The end goal is to establish a voice that your customers start identifying with.
  6. Disclose your identity: Make sure that all your employees add their title, function and company name to the profiles they use for posting on behalf of the company. This provides confidence to both employees and the audience they are interacting with.
  7. Have a crisis management plan: Sooner or later, there will be some sort of crisis that you’ll have to deal with. Whether it is a post that shouldn’t have been published, or negative stream of customer comments, or an inadvertent deletion, you have to make sure you have a plan of action beforehand. This will ensure you are in control and don’t end up worsening the situation.

Do you follow any other best practices? Let us know in comments..

You can also contact me on twitter @jasmeetio or on my personal website – Jasmeet Sawhney.

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