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The Regulated CMO’s Guide to Social CRM Technology

By Jul 17, 2013

Through the convergence of paid, owned and earned media, social media’s influence on search results continues to grow, as does the need for social CRM technology. Those brands that have embraced social strategies on the local level are earning credibility and significantly boosting visibility on search engine results pages (SERP).

Google+ content, for example, often occupies a portion of the highest profile Google SERP real estate. Bing has gone to great lengths to incorporate social signals into its search results via the Bing social sidebar, recently adding five times more Facebook content.

On the social search side, results from Facebook’s Graph Search are generated entirely from a searcher’s social network and other information available publicly on Facebook. According to a study by Mainstay Salire, local Facebook pages receive five times more marketing reach and eight times more engagement per fan than corporate pages, meaning that brands with multiple brick and mortar locations or advisors face an opportunity perhaps 40 times as great when marketing at the local level.

With so many benefits to be had, even regulatory bodies agree: it’s time for CMOs to dive into social. While a number of companies may have already developed national brand pages on social sites, an active social presence should be extended to the local level to help generate credible social signals and earn some valuable search engine visibility.

What about all those industry regulations?

CMOs working in financial services, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, or insurance, for example, may need to convince their organizations to balance the need to minimize liability with the opportunity to generate visibility. Yet regulatory bodies overseeing some of our most closely watched industries acknowledge the national and local business opportunities social media presents and encourage their industries to embrace them.

Looking at the financial services industry, regulatory groups have historically focused on mitigating risk yet won’t get in the way of their industry embracing the game-changing potential of social media. Instead, groups like theFinancial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) and others have provided minimal regulations on how social media ought to be leveraged and instead focus most of their guidance on the need for brands to archive, monitor and manage social communications.

Essentially, financial services firms’ social media policies must establish responsibilities specific to social media. To ensure FINRA compliance, these brands must archive and monitor any and all social media activity, including the activity of hundreds or thousands of location pages. When combined with an employee training program, these measures can insulate brands from liability, even if one of their own commits a violation.

Social CRM Technology Helps with Compliance

Maintaining compliance becomes infinitely more complex when national brands empower local entities or advisors to create and maintain a local social media presence. CMOs who take this step decentralize responsibility and spread the risk across hundreds or thousands of individuals, but the rewards a brand can earn outweigh these risks. Using a top social CRM technology platform makes it much easier for CMOs in any industry to maintain control of all social activity and ensure brand consistency, but when exploring social CRM options CMOs should insist on using one deemed compliant with their own industry’s regulations.

The best tools leverage automation and scalability to empower national brands to maximize social, local search and mobile results at the location level. CMOs should seek out a tool that minimally offers:

1.              Enterprise-ready industry-specific compliance: financial services providers, for example, should seek out FINRA compliant technologies

2.              Automated audit and approval processes: the chosen technology should track every post and conversation across each location’s social accounts with audit and approval processes and trails

3.              Corporate-controlled content libraries: these enable national brands to share preapproved content, messages, photos, videos, etc. with their many locations, who can then put the compliant resources into an engaging local context

4.              Archiving: keeping record of all communications is key to maintaining compliance in most regulated industries

5.              Reporting: brands should track and report progress against goals nationally and specific to each location

If regulatory bodies are actively encouraging their industries to more aggressively adopt social media, it’s time for CMOs to take action. Take the required steps to ensure compliance while getting local social media programs off the ground as soon as possible. The search engines are listening, but CMOs must step up and start sending the right signals.

Jon Schepke is president and founder of SIM Partners.