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Set aside for the moment the concerns about getting dinged during a regulatory audit over a mismanaged tweet. When we talk about risks, we're talking about broad issues with deep implications: social endurance, reputation impact, recordkeeping and advertising, and millennial hiring risk. Let's have a closer look at each.

Social Endurance

We all know that our digital footprints remain permanent. Tweets, blog posts, and other social communication can have a life on the Web that's stubbornly resistant to deletion. The United Kingdom's High Court announced in 2014 that it is requiring Google to grant users of its search engine a “right to be forgotten” and erase links to things like embarrassing legal records.[1]

It remains to be seen whether this will be an issue someday for users in North America as well.

What is clear is that the content that advisors and other financial professionals share in social media can have great reach and a long lifespan. How can firms address this?

■ Shadowing employee activity – Some firms shadow employees as they begin to use social media, making sure that their responses are in line with policies. In other words, someone will review their articles, tweets, and other posts that same day, perhaps in an artificial environment, before going live, so that a correction can be made and the employee can build his communication skills.

■ Careful monitoring – Internal spot checks, rather than editing content before it is posted online, are common both to monitor issues or trends and to correct behavior.

■ Training – Firms must provide instruction to staff that's commensurate with the companies' presence on social media, anything from monthly activity reviews of blogs or posts that were problems to an annual workshop on how to do things better.

  • [1] New York Times, “E.U. Court Orders Google to Grant 'Right to Be Forgotten,” Bits (blog), May 13, 2014, report-e-u-court-orders-google-to-grant-right-to-be-forgotten.
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