Social Media Archiving in Regulated Industries: Why It Matters

September 16, 2019 by Jatheon

Social media constitute official business records which means companies have to pay close attention to the type of information they share through their official accounts.

This is particularly important for organizations in regulated industries, where a lack of social media compliance can lead to data leakage, intellectual property loss, hefty fines and ruined reputation.

To avoid these pitfalls but benefit from the reach and convenience of social networks, organizations have started investing in social media archiving. This allows them to capture and preserve data that contain meaningful business insights and stay aligned with regulatory requirements.

So in today’s blog post we’ll look into why it is necessary to archive social media, how to avoid risks coming from social media (mis)use at work and how to protect your organization’s good standing.

How Regulated Industries Benefit from Social Media

Social media have steadily made their way to become the default manner of communication with customers and the public.

Right now, there are over 60 million active business pages on Facebook and over 30 million companies with official pages on LinkedIn.

And this should come as no surprise.

Social media are a unique tool in that they allow a two-way communication between the public and customers on the one side and organizations on the other.

But while social media are being increasingly deployed to improve business and communicate with the public, it’s key that organizations stay compliant with the regulatory requirements. Click To Tweet

Comments on Facebook and LinkedIn posts, mentions on Twitter, and reposts on Instagram are places where business departments take the pulse of their customer base, look for fresh ideas, acquire new leads and customers, and learn of their users’ pain points.

Going forward, social media are likely to become even more widely embraced, as more and more companies start using their potential to communicate with the market.

This will apply to regulated industries such as finance, education, healthcare, and government too. Some of these industries have already tapped into the potential that social media have for business expansion and communication. According to Healthcare Finance News, 49% of polled medical patients expect their doctors to reply via social media within a couple of hours when requesting an appointment or a follow-up.

At the same time, around 80% of financial advisors get new customers via social networks. Meanwhile, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has 2.5 mln followers on Twitter and uses the channel to disclose a variety of information, including internship opportunities or a call to help bring federal offenders to justice.

But while social media are being increasingly deployed to improve business and communicate with the public, it’s key that organizations stay compliant with the regulatory requirements. Otherwise, they could be facing significant fines and reputational damage to their business.

Social Media and Regulatory Compliance

Social media archiving in regulated industries is a complex issue to deal with. Due to the nature of their business, regulated industries in particular need to make significant efforts to properly capture, preserve and store their social media content. This includes a variety of unstructured data, such as mentions, hashtags, posts, comments, photos, stories, or tweets, across numerous channels.

And this becomes an even more complex task given that there are over 9,000+ regulations that govern this field, forcing companies to invest significant efforts to ensure archiving compliance.

However, what comes as a worrying statistic is that despite the stringent regulatory landscape, fewer than 20% of organizations in regulated industries archive their social media.

Without properly archived social media content, companies risk being fined millions of dollars for not meeting regulatory requirements, as shown by the fact that in 2018 alone, financial companies were fined a total of $61 million for non-compliance with the FINRA.

Avoiding Social Media Compliance Minefield

With a sound social media management strategy in place, one that includes both archiving and monitoring of social media content, companies can ensure corporate and regulatory compliance, and preserve their information security.

This helps them keep business safe and preemptively manage potential risks from social media communication.

Let’s say your company became implicated in legal proceedings involving a harassment incident between an employee and a consumer that took place on Facebook. To substantiate evidence, attorneys or courts will likely request that you provide electronically stored information pertinent to the case.

If you didn’t retain inalterable, time-stamped social media records, you could be facing high fines for lack of regulatory and corporate compliance, as well as charges for evidence spoliation and damaged reputation.

Why Is Social Media Archiving Important?

Social media have a large reach and can help employees better perform their assignments, gain insights into market trends, and communicate with their peers.

But on the flip side, a single bad comment on LinkedIn, or a Facebook post containing sensitive information, regardless of whether it’s posted from a corporate or a private account, can reach thousands of people and media outlets and severely affect your business.

There have been cases of employees engaging in harassment via LinkedIn messages, accidentally or intentionally revealing sensitive information about half-shaped product features, or airing their grievances and slating their employers through corporate chat platforms.

What comes as a worrying statistic is that despite the stringent regulatory landscape, fewer than 20% of organizations in regulated industries archive their social media. Click To Tweet

All these posts can be quickly deleted, which leaves legal and HR departments without crucial evidence in litigation and eDiscovery processes.

So, to stay safe and protected, you need to set up social media archiving practice in your enterprise. That way you’ll ensure that all your vital information is protected and that you possess enough evidence for regulatory requirements.

Archive for Protection

Social media are still a slippery ground for corporates. Most existing risk management tools are not designed to capture real-time content, which essentially leaves companies unprotected against corporate and regulatory non-compliance risk.

This lack of strategies has already affected numerous organizations, with schools being the most heavily affected.

Without a tool to archive and capture social media content, educational institutions are left in the dark about harassment, bullying, and discrimination that go on among pupils and students on social media, and in some cases even lead to lethal outcomes.

To bring an end to this, organizations need to take a two-faceted approach: first, capture and archive social media content to ensure social media compliance, and second, engage in social media monitoring to gain insights and prevent future incidents.

For starters, social media archiving allows your company to stay within regulatory boundaries and ensure that it possess readily available, unaltered business records that come from social media. These could prove essential in internal investigation or eDiscovery cases.

And second, social media archiving gives you a searchable database where you can get insights about employee communication on social media. This knowledge allows you to mitigate risks before they even occur and be ready for potential legal action involving your business.

Monitor for Insights

On the other side, a social media monitoring strategy ensures that your legal and HR departments are notified of potentially risky behavior at work.

You could prevent the sharing of sensitive information that threatens to negatively affect your brand, and also identify staff members who are ignoring best practices and violating your company’s policies by using social media for confidential information disclosure or harassment and misconduct.

By implementing a comprehensive social media archiving and monitoring strategy, companies will ensure they are ready to put risk under control and use social media’s advantages to expand their business.

To learn more about social media archiving and monitoring best practices per industry, get one of our free whitepapers for K-12 education, financial services, and government agencies and start ensuring social media compliance today.

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