Anyone who has ever worked in financial services will know how strictly regulated this sector is. Those regulations are there for a reason, of course, but it can bring a huge set of challenges for marketing teams, and no more so than in the reactive and ever-changing world of social media; where immediacy is everything.
If every single tweet or post from your brand’s social media accounts, or maybe even a customer response on a public platform, needs to pass through several levels of sign off, from marketing team to legal or compliance, often taking days or weeks to do so, it’s no exaggeration to say that this is pretty much the opposite spirit to how customers use these platforms.
So how can a balance be found? How can financial service brands loosen the shackles enough to still be compliant with all necessary regulation, but have enough freedom to be relatable and ‘human’ to customers and able to respond and react quickly, when opportunity knocks?
We have compiled some of the frameworks and processes we’ve worked with, that can be put into place to help your brand do just this.
Whatever company or organisation you work for, you will undoubtedly already have a process in place for the entire marketing process, from ideation all the way through content creation, sign off and finally the release or publication. In some organisations, this can take several weeks, which is no good it you want to publish something as a reaction to a story in the news today, or a situation that has unexpectedly arisen.
In order to implement this type of activity for your brand, the people at the top of the chain will need to understand why reactive content forms an essential part of your strategy and they will need to be satisfied that you won’t start posting things gung-ho, without an appropriate process being followed.
Having a streamlined version of this sign-off process set up for reactive marketing, which can make turnaround happen within a few hours, at most, is important if you want to show your ability as a brand to react and respond in a timely manner, whilst still respecting the constraints within which you can work. This streamlined version will, by its very nature, inconvenience some people in the chain somewhat, so you’ll need to pick and choose your moments. It’s not something you want to be doing on a daily basis in this way. If you’re finding that you want to post reactive content on social media more regularly, it’s likely that you need to relook at your compliance processes as a whole to better facilitate this type of activity, if it’s going to be scaled up.
Firstly, you’ll need to work out what constitutes a worthwhile reactive post for your brand. Having a checklist to measure each potential reactive idea against is a great way to help you make a quick decision but still sense-check your idea before it has an impact on anyone else who needs to be involved in the sign off process. You can ask questions such as:
If, after going through your checklist, you feel that this reactive post is definitely the right course of action for the brand, it’s time to put your streamlined sign-off process into action.
It might sound obvious, but if the people having the reactive ideas and actually creating the content don’t have a full understanding of what is and isn’t acceptable from a regulatory point of view, it can really slow down the entire process. You want your reactive post to fly through each sign off point, not to be returned to the creator to be amended because it falls foul of some rule or another; starting the entire process again from the beginning.
You may have two or three layers of sign-off to go through for every post, or you may even have more. Either way, the key principle remains the same; you need to identify and gain agreement from individual people who can turn around each layer of the sign-off process within a short space of time on these special occasions. They will need to be people that are likely to be contactable when you need them, but you’ll also need a backup person in each team to cover holidays, absences or unexpected meetings etc. Agree SLAs with all of these people, e.g. turnaround within 30-60 minutes, to ensure that you can still post the content in a timely fashion.
Communication, as ever, is the key to making this work effectively. Give a heads-up to the people involved whenever possible, to tell them that something needing urgent sign-off will land with them shortly, as a courtesy. People are more motivated when they understand the reason why something is important and urgent, so leading an email with a quick explanatory call usually helps; as can sweets, cake and chocolate!
If you publish some reactive content which works well and exceeds your expectations, make sure that this information is communicated to everyone that helped get it signed off quickly and also to stakeholders. Hopefully, with the success this time, the entire compliance process will go even more smoothly next time, with more people buying into it.
Evolve your process as you go. If there are sticking points, find a way to work around this next time. Whilst you may never quite get to enjoy the relative reactive freedom of marketers working in less rigorously regulated industries, you may find that there is more flexibility than you first thought.
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