Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Firms and Social Media


Recently at my company, my team scrolled through thousands of lines of Excel spreadsheets ensuring that Facebook comments, tweets, and survey responses, or ‘verbatims’, were properly categorized because, according to my senior manager, the analysts were not properly vetting the lists. Then, as now, I wondered how does anyone glean anything meaningful from these responses? They are often abbreviations, slang, not full sentences, and just plain spelled wrong. Additionally, how can companies best utilize best use social media and avoid possible pitfalls?
There are simple text searches that can be done to allow for keyword searches, etc. My company, as well as many others, use this. For example, my company searches for keywords that are often in complaints and singles those posts out for further review as the SEC/FINRA have strict guidelines that require the collection and reporting of written complaints, which include electronic communications.
Interestingly enough, the social media monitoring company Attensity 360 has developed software and slang dictionaries to allow for every word to be “parsed, making it possible to see relationships among words, even if the words are abbreviations, acronyms or emoticons."1 This is certainly a step forward in “translating” comments, tweets and the like.
One key problem for highly regulated industries is that their ventures into social media can be uncertain at best and may result in fines or possibly worse. There is simply not a great deal of precedent that has been sent. “Institutions also risk violating public advertising and communications rules. ‘Banks are deathly afraid of million-dollar fines they could possibly incur just for being flip on social media sites,’ says Neil James, digital analyst at Minneapolis-based PR firm Russell Herder.”2 The threat of fines and uncertainty how old communications rules apply to social media have also made my company reluctant to take full advantage of social media possibilities.
Strides are being made and many companies are embracing social media, while others wait for the trail to be cleared first. Regardless, companies recognize the opportunities here and are moving forward, however reluctantly.
1Lamont, Judith. "Text analytics finds dynamic growth in e-discovery and customer feedback." KM World. 05 Jul 2011: n. page. Web. 16 Jan. 2013. <http://www.kmworld.com/Articles/Editorial/Feature/Text-analytics-finds-dynamic-growth-in-e-discovery-and-customer-feedback-76365.asp&xgt;.
2Kite, Shane. "Social CRM's a Tough, Worthy Goal." American Banker. 01 Jun 2011: n. page. Web. 16 Jan. 2013. <http://www.americanbanker.com/btn/24_6/social-crm-tough-worthy-goal-1038025-1.html>.