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Regulated industries joining social will drive innovation, ROI

November 10, 2013

In my B2B social media course, I explain how to use social to:

  • Listen to what is going on in the industry
  • Develop a strategy based on that listening
  • Articulate your messages according to the strategy
  • Measure your ROI  based on if you succeeded at your strategy and at what cost.

Pretty straight forward. I would even go so far as to say it is elegant in its simplicity.

That process seems to work well in unregulated markets. Indeed, all of the examples I talk through in my class come from technology or consumer goods.

But what I’m finding is that the world isn’t as simple as I like to portray, at least not in heavily regulated markets like financial services or life sciences.

The savvy, regulated companies know they need to follow the same listen/strategize/articulate/measure steps, but buried deep in that formula is a challenging variable called “compliance,” or put another way, the ability to use social effectively without running afoul of regulations or the law.

Compliance actually holds the potential to drive financial services, life sciences and other regulated industries to leap-frog lesser regulated industries in their use of social media.

Social is no longer seen as a fad or an emerging trend in sales and marketing, it is here to stay and is an intrinsic part of any marketing plan. Because of this, companies in regulated markets are realizing the need to leap the regulatory hurdles in order to have a solid presence in social.

But if these regulated companies are going to get into social, they are going to demand better payback than previously demanded by lower regulated companies where the entrée to social was easier.

In regulated markets, because the “I” is higher, companies will demand a higher “R” in the ROI equation.

Regulated companies can also benefit from the best practices that have been developed over time by their lesser regulated, but more social-experienced, counterparts.

Social sales and marketing is heating up because

  • It is no longer is seen as a fad
  • There is a body of best-practices already established
  • Industries that previously avoided social because of regulations are getting into the game.

The new industries that are joining social are massive. Their participation holds the potential to drive more innovation in social, and demand that social directly drive top line dollars in addition to providing significant branding and communications benefits.

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