Socialware mitigates the risk of engagement

“The original vision,” Socialware’s executive VP Bruce Milne told me, “was very much to deal with the risk to regulated markets. But there’s now an opportunity to extend that to any companies which see risk in social media use.”

Milne, who leads Socialware’s services, marketing, sales and product strategy functions, was explaining how something which had once appeared to be a narrowly targeted product was becoming more broadly attractive to customers as the social media management market grows and changes. When we covered Socialware here at The Hub in June, 2014, we headlined its ability to keep the the financial service industry fully compliant with regulations when engaging in the the global social conversation.

Compliance is important not just to financial services and retail banks, but to the US healthcare industry (governed by HIPAA), the pharmaceutical industry (concerned about off-brand marketing), bio-sciences, the government, and increasingly the military. One challenge Socialware has been working on with the US navy is how to defend against vital location data being disclosed when combat troops are using social media over military networks.

But with just about every competitive business now nurturing a social presence, Socialware’s focus has expanded from compliance to providing flexible management and security options for firms with all kinds of risk profiles.

Principles and Tools

One important principle for Socialware is that businesses concerned with protecting themselves online need to be able to access a historical record. For that reason, Socialware only supported engagement with platforms with an archival function. That qualifies LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter–the platforms of most interest to Socialware’s customers–but excludes others like Google+ which doesn’t currently have archiving capabilities.

It’s important too that Socialware monitors and archives client activity direct from the social networks themselves, thus bypassing the BYOD problem. When social engagement can take place not just on the company network from an office desktop or a company-provided device, but from any digitally connected touch-point that takes the user’s fancy, it’s vital that the activity itself and not the device is what gets tracked and recorded. Socialware archives activity every four hours.

Some businesses need official access to social media to be strictly controlled, with posts being pre-reviewed and user profiles closely managed. Some, on the other hand, just require some basic guard rails to prevent any employee creating problems, for themselves or the company. Socialware bills itself as the “only solution that offers native access to the social sites, with complete access controls, as well as a portal solution using APIs” (The Socialware Difference: downloadable pdf here). The native access solution allows clients to bake in strict controls on the use of social accounts using a configurable set of access controls. Features like…well “likes” can be disabled. In effect Socialware inserts what is intended to be a non-intrusive proxy between the user and the social site itself; a proxy which can be positively leveraged to offer recommendations for responsive content, as well as negatively, to constrain user behavior. 

Businesses with lower risk profiles can opt for a portal solution which gives direct access, and like other familiar social media dashboards allows scheduling and publishing of posts, as well as offering analytics and “listening” capabilities. A combination of native and portal solutions is also available.

Automated Marketing

Why should businesses which aren’t highly risk-averse look at Socialware’s product at all? If what’s needed is a freewheeling social presence, and the ability to spray content across all platforms–archivable or not–Socialware probably isn’t the right choice. But one way of viewing it is as a fairly comprehensive social media marketing solution which just happens to have the bells and whistles of risk control as an extra layer of functionality.

“The library is a very popular part of our platform,” Milne told me. Socialware allows users to maintain a library of approved, compliant content, ready for deployment on social channels. A natural language-based listening tool can generate proactive recommendations for relevant, engaging content–not just from the library, but from a range of online sources. Combined metrics from Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn make suggestions for time and channel of publication. Workflows can be managed for collaboration, review and sign-off.

With analytics providing insight into the effectiveness and reach of campaigns, Socialware is a viable automated social marketing tool, whatever level of control might be required.

Social Brand Protection

And whether your business is heavily regulated or not, there’s going to be an interest in protecting the brand and ensuring consistent brand messaging. “Up to 25 percent of profiles on social platforms are fraudulent,” said Milne. Brands are “really concerned about people presenting themselves as representatives of a firm when they’re not.” 

The global social conversation is so readily accessible, that individuals–often without intending harm–can falsely appear to be speaking for a brand. This is a nightmare for financial services or pharmaceuticals; the last thing they need to see online is maverick advice associated with their brands. It’s a potential source of embarrassment at best, liability at worst, for any company.

Building on its compliance-monitoring tools, Socialware now offers a Social Brand Protection product which can track and identify brand misrepresentation on social media.

Target Market

Socialware has some high profile customers in the regulated sectors–Morgan Stanley, Ameriprise, GuardianLife–and their offerings (which are entirely cloud-based) can scale, said Milne, to handle an unlimited number of advisers, profiles and connections. It’s built for the enterprise, but Socialware targets everything from companies with 100 online advisers or spokespersons up to Wells Fargo, one of the largest banks in the world. 

Company Name: Socialware

Headquarters: Austin, Texas

Categories: Social Media Management, Social Media Publishing, Curation, Risk Management

Describe Yourself: Socialware provides the most comprehensive set of solutions for regulated firms and their employees to generate business, comply with regulations and manage risk on social media. The Socialware platform offers a comprehensive set of modules that provides specific solutions for different groups and needs within a firm, including risk management, sales, marketing, compliance and IT. Socialware’s wide range of solutions allow regulated firms and their customers to trust that the business they conduct on social is safe, compliant, relevant and effective. Socialware is a trusted technology partner to more than 150 of the leading firms in the US. 

Main Competitors: Hearsay Social, Actiance, Erado


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