Legal compliance through Online Reputation Management

Online Reputation Management (commonly referred to as “ORM”) solutions are popular with companies that have social media initiatives. These solutions enable companies to monitor the social media landscape for keyword and brand mentions that they often select based on their areas of interest. Two local solutions are BrandsEye and saidWot (Disclosure: saidWot’s sister company, Virtuosa, has been a client).

I came across an American solution that has an interesting approach. Hearsay Social appears to combine ORM with US financial services industry compliance solutions to provide a more holistic approach to the social Web. I have no experience with the product but their introductory video explains their approach nicely:

ORM solutions tend to do a good job monitoring the social Web for specified mentions. The emphasis has tended to be the marketing benefits this sort of monitoring brings to the table but there is another, perhaps more important, function these services could (and, to an extent, perhaps already do) perform: legal compliance. Legal compliance requirements vary from industry to industry and are fairly well addressed in conventional contexts. Financial institutions, for example, carefully monitor what their employees say in mainstream press and restrict communications about their financials over certain times of their financial year.

While some of these businesses are taking a greater interest in relevant mentions on the social Web, its not clear how many businesses regard ORM as a compliance tool in addition to a marketing tool. Well, the nature of ORM services does speak to a compliance aspect in that they often conduct some form of reputation scoring but, as I understand these solutions, the purpose of that scoring is more for marketing purposes to facilitate improved engagement and help shape marketing strategy than it is to ensure better compliance with the myriad legislative and regulatory compliance requirements.

The challenge with the social Web is that communications on the social Web exist outside corporate networks and are subject to third party control, variable user privacy settings and are distributed across a range of services (although probably concentrated on a few large ones like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and, to a degree, Quora). Many businesses have implemented systems that help them monitor employee communications using email, instant messaging and perhaps even internal social media implementations but few seem to be tackling the social Web and what employees and customers say on the social Web from a legal compliance perspective.

A compliance-oriented approach to ORM could extend social media policies meaningfully and help companies track and store detailed reports setting out the extent and scope of resulting interactions. Such a solution will need to cater not just for specific legislative and regulatory requirements but also for businesses’ own compliance programs (for example, programs to ensure Consumer Protection Act compliance through best practices). Records compiled by these solutions would also need to be detailed enough to fulfill an evidentiary role should interactions prove to be contentious down the line and be stored in an appropriate form and mechanism to meet evidentiary requirements.

ORM is fascinating work and just as social marketing should integrate a legal component, so should ORM. In fact, ORM solutions are potentially ideal compliance solutions too, with appropriate features


Compliance can be tricky, especially when it comes to social media. Get in touch with us to discuss your business’ requirements in more detail and how we can help your business be more legally compliant.

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