Five Common Legal & Regulatory Challenges With Social Media

It should come as no surprise that regulators and organizations alike struggle to set and enforce guidelines for social media activity. It’s not just that the rise of social media is rapidly transforming the way we interact with people, customers, and brands; but also how many ways this transformation is happening.

The core issue is that social media alters the way we as individuals share who we are, merging our roles as people, professionals, and consumers.  As we share more of ourselves on a growing number of social networks, questions quickly surface:

  • How frequently and on what social networks should we post?
  • When should we present ourselves in our professional role versus sharing our personal opinions?
  • Is it okay to be social media friends with co-workers, clients, or your boss?

These are complicated matters for individuals, and absolute conundrums for organizations concerned with how employees behave and interact with others in, and outside of, the workplace. Their questions are even more complicated:

  • Can organizations dictate how their employees use social media?
  • Can they monitor social media conversations or use it to learn more about prospective job applicants?
  • When does the personal connection allowed by social media tools cross the line from business to personal?
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In Business, Everybody Uses Social Media For Work; The Question Is How

You can no longer segment your business customers into those who use social media for business purposes and those who do not. Why not? Because according to Forrester’s newest B2B Social Technographics® numbers, fully 100% of business decision-makers use social media for work purposes. Other stunningly high numbers: 98% of business decision-makers are Spectators (they read blogs, watch videos, or listen to podcasts), 79% are Joiners (they maintain a profile on social networking sites), and 75% are Critics (they comment on blogs and post ratings and reviews), all in the context of their business activities.

Therefore, it’s no longer a question of whether you should use social, but how. B2B marketing executives no longer need convincing to invest in social. However, social marketing efforts are maturing beyond experimentation — where measuring results is secondary — to science. At this more advanced stage of maturity, marketers need to understand exactly how and when their customers are using social and target them differently in each stage of the customer life cycle.

Your customers don’t make blanket use of “social media,” “social networks,” or “communities” in general. Instead, they use specific social networks and communities for specific goals, both personal and business-related. The communities your customers visit for personal reasons are not always the ones they use for business purposes.

For business purposes, the No. 1 and No. 2 communities aren’t specific public social networks but “niche” communities focused on specific objectives. For example, business technology buyers might visit IT Central Station or Spiceworks to learn more about multiple competing technologies at once; alternatively, they might visit a community managed by a single brand, such as the Cisco Communities or SAP Community Network (SCN).

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Guest Post: Sarah Takvorian’s Favorite Forrester Groundswell Award Winner

[UPDATE, Sepember 2013: Entries for the 2013 Forrester Groundswell Awards are now closed. More than 100 companies entered more than 130 social programs this year, and we're looking forward to reviewing them and recognizing the best at our 2013 eBusiness Forum on November 5.]

We recently announced that we are accepting applications for the 2013 Forrester Groundswell Awards! This program recognizes companies that have best used social media to advance an organizational or business goal. As we gear up for this year’s awards, we can’t help but reminisce about those past winners that blew us away. Sarah Takvorian, the super Research Associate who helps out with our social marketing coverage, shares one of her favorites from the 2012 awards:

We received more than 100 award entries in 2012, but the B2C Talking category winner was my favorite.  Glidden’s “My Colortopia” social hub engaged the paint brand’s target audience and guided them toward the right colors and styles by providing expert advice and personalized inspiration.

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A favorite prior Forrester Groundswell Winner, and the 2013 awards

We’ve begun accepting nominations for our 2013 Forrester Groundswell Awards, the seventh year we’ve recognized top social marketing efforts.  We use these awards as best-practice examples in our research and presentations, and I wanted to look back and highlight one of my favorite winners from 2012. 

Premier Farnell — an electronics components supplier with $1.4B in 2012 revenue that also operates as Newark in the United States — has a goal to sell to a broader range of design engineers by offering them resources throughout its projects. To do this, the company built a community called element14, which offers resources about all types of electronic design topics and — crucially — does not focus just on products that Premier Farnell supplies. The community has about 120,000 members, and 5% to 7% of them click through from the community to the transactional portion of Premier Farnell's site each day as fully qualified leads. Premier Farnell shows that large corporations can generate substantial new business by offering potential customers vendor-agnostic reasons to visit a new community.

The community also generates new content for the rest of the company's marketing, as 45 experts create a series of new content in the community which provides another reason for customers to return; in fact, a third of the community members return every week.  

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Just Published: The Forrester Wave: Social Depth Platforms, Q3 2013

After the past few months of immersing myself in vendor briefings, demos, customer interviews, scoring methodologies, and writing, I am pleased to announce that the long-awaited Forrester Wave™: Social Depth Platforms, Q3 2013 has been published! We included nine vendors in this Wave and evaluated them across 57 criteria to help marketers select the right technology partner to manage their social activities on their own branded website, microsite, or online community.

Social media has transformed the way that buyers discover, explore, and engage with a brand. As a result, many marketers have invested in establishing a presence on popular social networks like Facebook and Twitter yet are struggling with how to convert interactions on these social networks to a purchase. This is where social depth marketing comes in — by driving people to your own web properties, you can provide credible and current details on your products and services. And social features such as your own blog, ratings and reviews, discussion boards, online communities, and other types of user-generated content can inform and influence a purchase decision. We call these technologies and platforms "social depth platforms":

Social depth platforms are technologies that add social content and experiences to marketing sites. 

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Now Accepting Entries: The 2013 Forrester Groundswell Awards

[UPDATE, Sepember 2013: Entries for the 2013 Forrester Groundswell Awards are now closed. More than 100 companies entered more than 130 social programs this year, and we're looking forward to reviewing them and recognizing the best at our 2013 eBusiness Forum on November 5.]

Every year since 2007, Forrester has recognized the very best social media programs from around the world — and I’m thrilled to announce we’re now accepting entries for the seventh annual Forrester Groundswell Awards.

The rules are simple: Entries should represent the effective use of social technologies to advance an organizational goal. The more data you can offer to prove this, the better your chances of winning. You can enter using our online form. If you win, you get a nice shiny trophy, a winner’s badge for your website, and lots of recognition from Forrester. And this year’s deadline is August 30, 2013.

There’s just one big change for 2013: We’re introducing new categories for the awards based on Forrester’s marketing RaDaR research. So this year, both our business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) awards will offer four categories:

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