It’s hard out there in social media for regulated industries like healthcare. UnitedHealth Group for example, has to carefully craft their responses to customers in social media to comply with legal requirements.

According to Rachel Medina, their senior communications specialist, they’re making progress with reaching customers despite these strict rules. In her presentation at SocialMedia.org‘s BlogWell conference, she explains it’s all a part of following HIPAA regulations while trying to do more for their customers in social media.

Here are three key points from her presentation:

  • Members come first, and social comes second. Rachel admits that healthcare in social media isn’t sexy. But to UnitedHealth Group, it’s not about having the most innovative campaign or making a viral video. It’s about meeting their customers where they want to interact with the company.
  • Create a pilot program to help with executive buy-in. Rachel explains that by reallocating a few employees from the call center and keeping costs low, they were able to make the case for social media while leaving room to make mistakes.
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Like it or not, Facebook is no longer the “free” community mecca that marketers with a guerrilla mentality fervently embraced years ago. Just looking at the organic reach over the last 27 months of the many brands Renegade manages, we’ve seen a decline from a peak of nearly 20% in 2012 to a new low of under 5% in 2014. Our data tracks with that of other studies, leaving little room for doubt on this point:

Despite the clarity of the data, many marketers have yet to embrace the reality that as of March 2014, only a meager 1 in 20 of their Facebook fans are seeing their carefully crafted “organic” posts. At the risk of being painfully clear, to reach the other 95% of your fans on Facebook now requires paying Zuckerberg & Co. his due. This of course begs the question, what’s a thrifty and socially savvy tactician to do now? (read more…)

Sophisticated marketers have a lot on their minds these days, such as developing and reaching audiences, creating consumer connections with meaningful content and campaigns, demonstrating business results — and, of course, doing it all in compliance with legal rules and guidelines.

The Federal Trade Commission recently completed an investigation into a Pinterest-based contest conducted by fashion brand Cole Haan. The contest asked participants to create Pinterest boards called “Wandering Sole” and pin five images of shoes from Cole Haan’s own board and five additional place images, all tagged #WanderingSole. The most creative entry, as judged by Cole Haan, would receive a $1,000 shopping spree.

In a public letter to Cole Haan’s counsel, the FTC expressed concern that the re-pinning of product merchandise without a clear indicator that the pins constituted a contest entry may have violated Section 5 of the FTC Act, which “requires the disclosure of a material connection between a marketer and an endorser when their relationship is not otherwise apparent from the context of the communication that contains the endorsement.”

The FTC chose not to pursue any action against Cole Haan, but the incident has raised questions in the minds of savvy social marketers. (read more…)

Since the FTC updated their social media guidelines last year, a lot of social marketers have a lot of questions about staying legal. The bottom line: It all comes down to proper disclosure.

In his presentation at SocialMedia.org‘s BlogWell conference, Andy Sernovitz explains why paying for social media coverage makes a sticky situation that requires the right kind of disclosure. But he also shares why doing disclosure right is easy.

Here are three ways you can make a habit of staying ethical in social media:

  • Use these 10 magic words: “I work for (company) and this is my personal opinion.” When you’re open and honest about who you are, it not only keeps you out of legal trouble, but can also help your credibility.
  • Make it clear and conspicuous: The FTC doesn’t give social media marketers a script to follow. Instead, they require marketers to just be upfront about disclosure in a way that’s easy to understand and easy to see.
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4SDIt’s been an exciting year for Foursquare. On the heels of its fifth birthday (March 11, in case you want to send a present), CEO Dennis Crowley announced that revenues grew by 600% in 2013 and 500% the first quarter of 2014, and its now home to 45 million users.

Fueled by B2B relationships and people with a love for local, Foursquare did not do this alone. On Wednesday, April 16, people around the world celebrate Foursquare Day, a grassroots movement celebrating local communities, ideas and people. Starting in Tampa, Fla., in 2010, Foursquare Day was created by Nate Bonilla-Warford, an optometrist and local business owner. Nate, a numbers guy and Pi Day celebrator, pointed out that 42 = 16, and proposed that April 16 should be known as Foursquare Day. With the help of an independent group of Tampa social media nerds, on March 26, Foursquare made it official with a tweet. (read more…)