You Tweeted What?! Common Sense Guidelines to Drive Effective Compliance Training for Employees

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The day America stops for the most-watched sporting event in history millions share the experience of pulling for their favorite team in front of the TV at home. For fans in Seattle and Denver, the joy of cheering for the home team captured a majority share of the local TV market. Many also share the experience with their extended network on their favorite social media tool, making social media a great channel for brands to connect with their customers. But, are they doing so in a manner that is favorable to the brand? Have they supplied compliance training for employees?

In 2013, Oreo demonstrated that a clever real-time response to an event could deliver a great deal of attention. When the lights went out in the Superdome, the Oreo Twitter account posted a low-lit graphic with the phrase, “You can still dunk in the dark.” That graphic was shared 20,000 times on Twitter and Facebook, and in countless news and blog articles.

Unfortunately, brands have discovered negative attention is also a possible outcome. During this year’s Super Bowl, the Purell account posted a sarcastic comment that provoked the ire of the fans of a team that wasn’t even playing–the home team of the city closest to their headquarters, the Cleveland Browns.

The #Broncos could use a @PURELL refresh moment, because right now they look like the Cleveland Browns.

The company tweeted an apology, and posted a more verbose apology on the Cleveland.com website.

While this post did offend many sports fans in the company’s hometown, it wasn’t directed against a protected group and; therefore, the post can be categorized as a poor choice. But other posts aren’t so benign.

In a recent study, it was determined that companies apologize frequently on Twitter. Part of this is because companies are monitoring social media channels for unsatisfied customers, but another part of this is in response to real-time comments which miss the mark.

The people with the keys to the corporate social accounts need to tread carefully. Not only do they risk an inappropriate comment that can put the brand’s reputation on the line, but there is also the risk of accidental (or purposeful) revelation of confidential information. Are the accounts run in compliance with the each platform’s Terms of Service? Are releases of material information made in compliance with SEC regulations?

Has the login to the corporate account been shared with others outside the company?

Employees have to be careful too. What are employees saying about the company, its people or its products in public view from their private accounts? Who takes responsibility if an employee says inappropriate things from their personal account which identifies them as an employee of the company?

That’s a lot to think about! What can companies do?

Start with common sense guidelines.

  • First, Establish a company presence on social media, and have it “verified” to establish authenticity. You can take this step even if you don’t choose to invest in a social marketing campaign at this time.
  • Next, establish a company social media policy. You might want to use a pre-written template written by an expert as a starting point, as there are a number of aspects to consider, including specific elements like:
    • Should your company allow employees to offer “Recommendations” (or “Endorsements”) of other employees on social sites like LinkedIn?
    •  Do your employees know the rules around references to your company or its products?
  • Third, ensure that monitoring is taking place. Employee social activities and mentions of the company’s name should be monitored, so that issues can be addressed in a timely fashion. Do you have the tools and the skills to cover this in your organization?

This last point is a very important one. Consumers voice complaints using social media whether or not you’re listening. Their acquaintances hear their complaint about your company, but if you’re not listening they’ll never hear your side. If you respond quickly and in the appropriate way, however, you have an opportunity to turn that dissatisfied customer into an advocate.

This brand reputation concern is a compliance concern, a service opportunity, and a marketing opportunity.

To ensure your employees are putting their best foot forward, you’ll want to employ compliance training for employees to support your corporate social policy.

Awareness of social media helps those in the organization who aren’t frequent users themselves, to recognize when they should pay attention on behalf of the organization. After all, people are talking about your company whether you’re listening or not.

Social media training is a resource that can clarify acceptable and unacceptable online behavior. The world of social media changes every day with new issues coming to the forefront from time to time. But the horse has already left the stable – it’s best to get your hands around the principles and ensure that you have a good foundation.

Check out these resources for more information on social media training and compliance:
Survey Reveals Social Media Training Top Compliance Priority
Social Media Risk Management: Financial Professionals Look Ahead to New Communications Channels
Social Media Complicates Technology Ethics Issues