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Why You Must Manage Social Media

There is an interesting CNBC article out today that discusses the increased attention that the FBI is giving to tweeters in the financial services industry. Key points from the article:

  • A growing number of hedge fund managers and others in financial services firms are using Twitter to share their views on companies, stocks, news, etc.
  • As a result, FBI agents are actively searching Twitter and Facebook for evidence of securities fraud.
  • One study found that Twitter can predict moves in the Dow Jones Industrial Average two to six days in advance with a remarkable accuracy of 87.6%, making tweets an increasingly important source of “inside” information about stocks, companies, etc.

Clearly, anyone in the financial services industry should get their social media act together in order to prevent charges of insider trading or doing anything that might run afoul of SEC, FINRA, FSA or other regulations. However, even if you’re not in the financial services industry, you should get your social media act together in order to prevent bad things from happening to your company. For example, employees could use Twitter or Facebook to:

  • Allude to upcoming merger or acquisition discussions with another company.
  • Reveal travel plans that might be evidence of an upcoming deal with another company (I was told about a case in which someone successfully guessed that a security-related company was going to do a deal with a large retailer based solely on an employee’s tweets about traveling regularly to a particular city).
  • Sexually harrass another employee, contractor, business partner, etc.
  • Post information about their use of drugs, alcohol, opinions about their boss, etc., that could embarrass a company or harm its revenues. Check this out for the types of tweets that could be damaging to your company.

The bottom line is this: if you use social media, you must manage it like you manage email or any other form of electronic communication.

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