Highly Regulated Market? How to Leverage Social Media

16 04 2011

Today I came across a very interesting article while on Twitter, Leveraging Social Media in Regulated Industries. Although it is a little updated I still found it very prevalent. Jason Falls says, the four key tenants of brand behavior for social media success challenged by guidelines and restrictions in these industries are:

  • Companies have to be honest.
  • They should be as transparent in their approach to consumers as possible.
  • Responsiveness is absolutely imperative.
  • Companies must engage their publics in conversations around their products and services.

He states that the biggest problem for healthcare companies are that they get hundreds of tweets and it is hard to respond to all of them in real-time when only certain people have permission to talk and all messages have to pre-approved in a system that sometimes can take 3-4 weeks.

Falls states the way to successfully implement a social media campaign for any regulated market is that you have to get support from above, you need C-level employees to stand behind all social media initiatives or it will never take off. Secondly you must work closely with the compliance staff or legal team, help them understand what it is that you are trying to accomplish so they are better able to help you. The next step is to educate. Everyone in the company must understand it. The C-level and legal team should already be clued in at this point but if not, you need to work to educate them again. Make sure everyone in the company understands what exactly you’re doing and make sure there are strict social media policies set. Then it’s time to approach review and approval as a team. You cannot have one person monitoring all blog comments, company forums, tweets, and Facebook posts at once but it helps to have multiple individuals responsible to work in moderation so someone is always available. His final piece of advice is to develop short review timelines and definitive outcomes. Decide how fast you expect responses, how many posts you want to see per week, and who should be doing what and then monitor it on a timely basis.

Implementing a new social media campaign in any company is hard but implementing one in an industry that is as highly regulated as the healthcare industry is even more difficult. This is the reason that healthcare always seems to lag behind other industries when it comes to technology. By more healthcare professionals and companies taking Falls advice, I think we could see many more successful implementations of social media plans.

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