Stessa Cohen and Rick DeLotto here. Twitter is NEW! Twitter is fun! Twitter ‘s structure- (each post is only 140 characters long) encourages simplification and vivid writing. Oh, yeah: Twitter is permanent. Your tweets are out there, re-tweeted by your followers, picked up by blogs and PR firms, emailed around the world.
Spontaneity and regulatory compliance may be at odds, and raise your operational risk.. The Wall Street Journal picked up on the potential for microblogging and other public social media to get US corporations into regulatory SEC hot water. They reported:
An eBay Inc. effort to broaden communication through the popular Twitter Web-messaging service highlights the hurdles facing corporate users of online social media. …The online auctioneer launched a corporate blog in April 2008. Two months later, blogger Richard Brewer-Hay began “tweeting” — posting updates on Twitter — about Silicon Valley technology conferences, eBay’s quarterly earnings calls and other topics.
Using Twitter for customer relationship management, service and corporate communication is tempting. But remember: Depending on your jurisdiction, Twitter may counts as an official legal communication. Like old fashioned letters and newer fashion email. Which means you either gotta keep track of your corporate twitters (is that “twack your tweets”?) now, or will real soon:
Such efforts raise thorny questions. Blogs and tweets can run afoul of Securities and Exchange Commission regulations on corporate communications. But sanitizing such posts risks hurting credibility with online audiences.
What to do?
- Understand the medium. What makes for a credible message using Twitter, blogs, etc? The SEC itself uses Twitter and encourages corporations to use social media. “to communicate to investors via the Web. In July, the commission said companies could disseminate certain information on the Web without issuing a news release.”
- Adapt your corporate communications style for the medium, and develop a style book.
- Meet with your legal counsel before finalizing up your social media strategy and policy.
- Craft your social media strategy for your bank. Use our note “A Social Media Strategy for the Banking Industry” to help you do it.
- Get it in writing. Write a social media strategy and policy.
- Educate social media users. Make sure that everyone who blogs, responds to blogs, twitters, and uses other social software to communicate about your bank and with customers reads it and understands corporate policy. As social media becomes more common, more and more bank staff will require this education.