1. Engage a multidisciplinary team. Social media is not just an IT or marketing problem.
Since social media activity affects a wide range of functions, an effective strategy brings together senior representatives from Human Resources, Legal, Information Technology, Marketing, Risk Management, Public Relations, Compliance, and any other affected functions.
Assigning a project or program manager will help to track and maintain the team’s progress.
2. Document current and intended social media use. The multidisciplinary team’s first order of business should be to document how each department currently uses social media and how it intends to use it in the future.
It’s up to the multidisciplinary team to use the bank’s overall strategy as a guide to determine which types of social media use align with organizational objectives. The team then establishes how the bank--including its employees, recruiters, marketers, and IT department--will use and be affected by social media. Having multiple people involved in making these decisions can present a challenge, but having one person responsible for the execution of the social media strategy--and having the support of senior management--will move this process along more quickly.
3. Perform a risk assessment. Before the multidisciplinary team can even consider safeguards and controls, it must identify and quantify the various risks associated with social media use.
This risk assessment takes into account the likelihood and potential damage resulting from occurrences such as employee defamation of the bank, its products, or its leadership--as well as any other risks to which social media use exposes a bank. The risk assessment also involves identifying the controls that are already in place, which could be mitigating a portion of the risk. To help prioritize the most significant risks, a bank can determine the sufficiency of these controls and work them into an overall residual risk rating.
4. Expand current policies to include social media. Once risks have been identified, it should be apparent whether, and where, the bank’s policy needs to be expanded in order to better address the risks.
A bank can choose to centralize social media guidelines by including them in a single policy. Or it could incorporate the guidelines into existing policies and add new content to cover social media risks. Whichever option a bank chooses, the policy needs to be easily accessible to employees and cover some basic topics: appropriate and inappropriate employee use of social media; human resources policies; information security policies; marketing and communications policies; and vendor management policies.
A 2011 survey by nCircle found that 68% of companies have social media policies--up from 58% in 2010. (How many employees follow them is a different question.)
5. Implement safeguards. A Proofpoint survey from August 2010 found that one in five U.S. companies had investigated a data leak that occurred via a posting on a social media site.
Social media is a channel unprotected by typical information security safeguards, which tend to focus on an organization’s controlled network. As such, organizations must evaluate a new set of information security risks and mitigate them with information security policies and controls.
6. Provide social media training. Even the best policies will be ineffective if employees don’t understand them.
It’s critical for a bank to invest its time and resources into educating its workforce about the intricacies of its social media policy. Training should include examples of appropriate and inappropriate communications and actions, distinguishing between positive and negative use of the medium, and highlighting the constant threats present on these sites. In addition, training should not be a one-time occurrence, but, rather, an ongoing effort.
7. Monitor social media channels. Banks also need to consider how they will stay current on social media chatter that could have an impact on their objectives.
Social customer relationship management (CRM) tools, composed of software products and vendor services, can help banks monitor public channels for social media chatter that could affect the organization. How an organization responds to negative comments made via social media entails significant risks of its own.
Nestlé’s Facebook page, for instance, was inundated with negative comments in March 2010 following a Greenpeace campaign against the company’s use of palm oil. The company’s attempt to restrict commentary drew more unwanted attention to the issue and created a public relations disaster.