The Internet is quick to be outraged and can be unforgiving in its outrage. “Seventy-six percent of social media crises, such as the one involving Justine Sacco, can be prevented through education and informed policy guidelines,” says Jeremiah Owyang, chief catalyst at Crowdcompanies, a brand consultancy firm. Hootsuite, probably the leading social media platform today, seems to have adopted Owyang’s mantra in its new Managed Security and Compliance Services.
According to a post on their site, the initiative is aimed at ensuring organizations are deploying their social media strategies “securely and compliantly.” Gregory Gunn, Vice President of Partnerships and Integrations at Hootsuite, says the trigger to develop the solution came from the Hootsuite’s stakeholders including customers and regulatory agencies. The service is separate from Hootsuite’s actual product. This means that you will have to shell out extra bucks for the service.
What Does It Do?
The services suite does a couple of things to help manage an organization’s social media presence. First, it brings together multiple social media accounts and mentions under a single, cohesive platform. This means that fake social media accounts (remember FakeSteveJobs?) and trolls are immediately identified. Second, the services suite mines social feeds and simulates social media emergency situations (remember those trolls who wouldn’t back off, even after you told them to) to develop policy guidelines. Finally, there is the security aspect. Hootsuite already offers custom workflows to organizations. In its latest iteration, however, Gunn says the services suite combines these workflows with advanced security features. As an example, he says the new set of services enables organizations to configure special social media posting permissions for temporary workers, such as interns.
The Hootsuite team also performs a comprehensive social media audit for organizations. So, if you are storing social media passwords on a centralized wiki (which, according to Gunn, was standard practice at a major TV network show), then you are an easy prey for hackers. The Hootsuite team will work with you to formulate appropriate guidelines for storage and retrieval guidelines for passwords and, in general, make sure that your system is “designed to prevent” hacking.
From the compliance perspective, the platform enables you to comply with reporting and archival requirements from regulatory agencies. “Starting now, we are able to organize every piece of content (in an organization’s social network stream) and make it searchable and archivable,” explains Gunn. In practical terms, he says this will help organizations such as financial services firms easily comply with guidelines from regulatory authorities, such as FINRA.
The Underlying Technology
At the Hootsuite connect conference in San Francisco, I also caught up with NexGate, a social media brand protection and compliance startup. Their tools, which are also resold through Hootsuite, serve as a backend in the social media platform’s latest iteration. Their technology scans social media for accounts related to your organization and, also, has cool features such as lockdown of your accounts for critical tasks, such as change in administrators etc. David Meizlick, Vice President of Marketing at the firm, told me that one of their aims is to filter good content from bad content. As an example of the latter, he says spammers often flood the comments feed section with unnecessary promotional links. “This shuts down the conversation that a brand is trying to create,” he explains. It follows, then, that Hootsuite’s new avatar is designed to create even more brand-related conversations than it already does.
The Simulation Test
As they say, proof of the pudding always lies in its implementation.
Jaime Stein and his colleagues served as test beds for Hootsuite’s latest initiative. According to Stein, who is head of social media at banking giant ING Vysya, the Hootsuite team simulated thirty six hours of social media action as simulation for their brand name change activity. Stein says internal research had already shown them that brand name changes are generally perceived with a negative bias on social media. His team’s goal was to maintain a positive image through what Stein refers to as a torture test.
The reverse-engineered test consisted of handling different types of reactions and provocative questions from trolls on social media. In the first hour, Stein and his team of six social media veterans handled immediate responses, which were a mix of praise and critical comments. In the second hour, which was focused on the next twenty-four hours, they handled reactions to new stories about their brand names emerging in the media. Finally, the third hour, which focused on the final day, was focused on ongoing maintenance and communication.
The exercise helped Stein’s team focus and respond to phenomenally fantastic comments such as “Your brand sucks.” By the way, if you did the last bit, your name went up on a troll blacklist on a whiteboard in their room. They also tweaked their strategy to be more effusive about praiseworthy comments. “We are perceived as a humble brand,” explains Stein. That perception, however, does not work well on social media which is all about amplification. So, Stein, who earlier worked with the Canadian Football League, and his team adopted a more aggressive stance of retweeting praise from commenters.
And, when the actual name change day dawned, Stein says his team was cool at work. “It was a normal day like any other,” he says.
The Internet may have been outraged but they were not.