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Preventing brand damage on social media

Employers face enough risks: HR teams handle personnel matters, a legal team pores over contracts, company insurance minimizes risk of loss from circumstances beyond the company’s control – and now employers need to worry about employees damaging their brand’s reputation on social media, too? (See our post on Social Media Mishaps.) After interviewing CEO Clara Shih,‘s Rick Gilman addresses how to handle these “liabilities” and actually leverage the use of social media for business. The following is an excerpt from his article, originally published on August 23, 2011.

“Uncontrolled liabilities

How often have we heard in the news about some YouTube video or tweet that hit the Internet and sent shockwaves around the country? Remember the Dominos Pizza YouTube video of two employees that thought it would be fun to spit on the food of a customer? It immediately went viral and the Dominos brand tanked almost as quickly.

While that is an extreme example, every day businesses are struggling to have some kind of handle on the social networking content their employees are sending just to try and monitor what’s being said internally about their company.
Related: Read “Was it Good For You?” by Rick Gilman.
At the same time, agencies, like many small businesses, are striving to find the right way to leverage these very powerful tools. Over the past few years, many companies have popped up offering agents “content in a box” (my term) for putting out insurance information on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Other vendors have developed guidelines and best practices for managing the use of social media and still others offer training.
Recently, I came across a new company that combines all three services along with in-depth analytical analysis. Hearsay Social, the 2-year old, San Francisco-based social media management platform for the insurance industry, gives employees complete freedom to “post like crazy” (as its website describes) while letting the company continue to protect its brand and keep compliant from a regulatory perspective.
Think global, act local
Hearsay Social provides companies with a central dashboard to monitor and archive messages; you can distribute marketing campaigns and measure the results on both corporate and local levels.
From a compliance perspective, tracking and accessing issues apply to social media content similarly to how they apply with email; it’s potentially discoverable in court. Monitoring and archiving conversations helps to eliminate concerns with FINRA and SEC regulations.
Because Hearsay Social sits on top of social networking tools, distributing content suggestions and campaigns to other agency locations or producers out in the field is easy and end users can tailor them to their local markets and one-click post to Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, keeping brand identity consistent across the enterprise.

Geared more for the large corporation with many locations spread out across multiple markets, Hearsay Social targets insurance companies and banks, including several in the global Fortune 100 arena. Insurance agents, on the other hand, wouldn’t likely fit the model for being a direct customer, but are the ideal end user when their carrier is concerned about brand consistency and compliance across the enterprise.
Because all business owners should be concerned with what’s being said about their companies by their staff in the social media space, finding solutions that leverage technology, define a clear policy and effectively communicate and implement a solid program of staff training is needed to transform the potential liability into an asset.
If you’re a captive agent looking for help with social networking content development and/or monitoring activities, talk with your carrier. Hearsay Social might already be working with them. Check out its website and Facebook page to find a couple of case studies there with Farmers Insurance Group and State Farm that will give you added insight as to how their solution works.
If you’re an independent agent, contact Hearsay Social directly; it may have solutions that are scalable and can provide your agency with the tools to become compliant, content-rich and aware of how its brand is perceived across the social media landscape. If that doesn’t work, look for other solutions that might support similar controls. In either case, don’t let the progress of social media in your business plans become a runaway train.”


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