Social media gains in regulated industries

Healthcare, financial services firms and others are getting social-media advantages, even while awash in rules. Here's how they do it.

Social networking is serious business within regulated industries. Posts pertaining to finance, insurance and healthcare, in particular, require adherence to strict government and industry regulations. Even with the rule-a-palooza, however, some companies within these industries have not only found ways to keep regulators happy, but they've also made social networking a productive and key part of doing business.

That said, the phenomenon is still in fairly early stages. Only around 10% of regulated industries have a "truly social" enterprise where multiple social media tools have been integrated into general content consumption, according to Toby Ward, founder of Toronto-based Prescient Digital Media, a consulting firm for Fortune 500 companies.

"It depends on the organization and their level of savviness," says Ward. Companies where executives start their own blogs, for example, are more likely to end up using social media most effectively and predominantly, according to a recent study his firm conducted. "Almost all major banks have been in social media for at least a few years," Ward says.

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