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04:20 PM
Becca Lipman
Becca Lipman
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Technology & Compliance Biggest Setback in Social Strategy

Wells Fargo says better social aggregation and search technology will help financial firms put their people back into the social realm.

No escaping human error
A large part of the Enterprise Social Media Team's strategy is delivering education and compliance training to social media users. Unfortunately, beyond the neverending stream of technical and regulatory challenges, compliance training remains one of the greatest hurdles. From unapproved investing advice to the dreaded spelling mistake, the risks are staggering.

The capacity for human error is hard to eliminate. As Milne said, in the wealth management space a relationship with a financial adviser is very personal, so the blend of content people are expected to churn out tends to be a 60/40 ratio of educational content to personal insights and thought leadership.

But each company's strategy and each adviser's approach is a bit different, depending on the particular circumstances. One of Socialware's clients, Morgan Stanley, is one of the few institutions allowing financial advisers to tweet on their own. Its communication strategy tends to be on the high end of the personal spectrum, and Morgan Stanley's approach is largely to equip advisers with a library of pre-approved content, but it strongly encourages self-authored messages, which are also subject to pre-approval but with a rapid turnaround, so it's still timely and relevant.

"Social media with training wheels"
Some have criticized the library of pre-approved content as unauthentic, but not all advisers are natural bloggers. Being active on social channels has proven to be a competitive approach, but it can be difficult to converse intelligently on a diverse range of topics. Those used to long-form blogging formats can find it a challenge to communicate within 140 characters.

Still, everyone deserves a chance. At least, that's the approach at Wells Fargo, where access to social media is earned, not given lightly.

Like many other large organizations, Wells Fargo has its own internal social media network, powered by Jive, for all its 265,000 employees across business lines and countries. The majority of employees are also customers, so Wells Fargo looks at it as a free testing ground before taking social accounts outside the firm.

An employee wanting a public social account with rights to speak on behalf of Wells Fargo will first approach the Enterprise Social Media Team for compliance training and be encouraged to use their account on the internal social network in a Twitter-LinkedIn-Facebook manner. "This is social media with training wheels," Carlson said. "We tell them to go out there and do exactly what you do, but do it internally first."

Many times, employees are given an internal account that mimics a Twitter handle, only to realize they don't have much original content, and that it's actually work, so they back out. By detecting issues up front, Wells Fargo can enable its users and identify recipes for success and obvious pitfalls.

Internal social users still wanting to move outside the firewall next go for approval from Wells Fargo's social media steering committee, a group of 14 high-level executives who meet every other week. The user's social history is presented and considered in line with the regulatory concerns the intuition must uphold.

So far, Wells Fargo has approved 100 communicators on Twitter and another group of advisors on LinkedIn and Facebook to speak on behalf of the company.  However, an emerging priority for Carlson and team is to educate and activate a larger scale employee engagement effort, to upload and share pre-approved content to expand reach, and stay relevant given the social nature relationship based businesses.

Another 1,500 advisers have official Wells Fargo accounts but cannot yet speak on their own behalf; they can only upload and share pre-approved content.

Becca Lipman is Senior Editor for Wall Street & Technology. She writes in-depth news articles with a focus on big data and compliance in the capital markets. She regularly meets with information technology leaders and innovators and writes about cloud computing, datacenters, ... View Full Bio
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