Archive for October, 2010
Today’s entry is from Jae Kim, Director of Social Media Products at FaceTime Communications. He’s an avid user of social media, and we always enjoy hearing his thoughts on the latest and greatest in this exciting space.
Chances are you’ve got a Facebook account. If you have an iPhone, Droid, or Blackberry, you’re probably spending a good part of your day updating your status wherever you go. You’re also likely to have about 130 friends that you connect with. Some of them you might know well, while others you may have accepted their friend requests, just to avoid the awkwardness of rejecting them. I know too well. I admit I have done exactly that, to avoid that situation.
People use Facebook to share things, not hide them. And many users think “What’s wrong with letting people see my life story?” They assume that the more visitors they have, the more influence and power they’ll have over their social networks.
Well, that might be true, if you are selling Coca Cola. But if you’re not, you’d want to think twice about sharing intimate details about your significant other with the world, not to mention with your employer or colleagues.
What that means is that I can go to sites like youropenbook.org and search status updates and photos. I can instantly pull up all status updates that contain phone numbers with profile pictures, or whatever you happen to share in your status update. What’s even scarier is that sites like youropenbook.org are built on Facebook’s API. This means any college kid can put together a quick PHP code to access this information.
It’s interesting to note that as recently as a few weeks ago, Facebook allowed even non-Facebook users to see user profiles when following Facebook account links. Today, I noticed that Facebook disabled such access, but profile walls are still accessible if you are logged in to Facebook, even if you are not a friend of the person you searched.
Searching Facebook status updates is not an experiment on Facebook’s part. They intend to open this feature up for wider consumption. In fact, Facebook and Microsoft Bing announced today that Bing will integrate social connections to enhance the search experience. Given Facebook’s deep relationship with Microsoft and Google’s increasing threat of entering the social networking space, this integration is only going to be developed further.
All these developments should alarm marketing managers and their employers. Unless you stay on top of what employees are sharing on Facebook and how they are sharing it, you don’t really know who’s finding what information from whom. Especially for regulated sectors, this need is compounded by regulatory requirements, such as FINRA guidelines.
One bit of good news is that FaceTime has been squarely focusing on these regulatory compliance and archival needs for over a decade. Since the early days of instant messaging, FaceTime has been the leader in providing compliance solutions to 90% of the largest financial institutions in North America.
So watch out. You and your employees’ social lives on Facebook can easily be exposed for the world to see. It’s up to you to clothe yourself and your employees’ online social networking profiles appropriately. Unless, of course, you intend to be an obliging nudist.
From Jae Kim – Director of Social Media Products, FaceTime Communications
Unlike the millions of people who saw the Social Network last weekend, I happily stayed at home with my iPad Twitter app, catching up on my numerous Google Alerts on ‘social network’. While I may have missed out on a piece of pop culture, thanks to Facebook’s surprise re-launch of Group, I’m right back in it.
For the expert Facebook users who have created Groups, today’s (new) Group announcement may sound like the functionality has just been repackaged. Other than the simpler UX and more features like group chat, wiki-style document sharing, and email integration, it essentially is.
(Old) Group can be created with members that you invite and can be used to represent context or place. But the most interesting part of Mark and Chris’ presentation was the discussion on how to address context.
Facebook is trying to solve the problem of representing social context in the Groups function, as it exists in real life. For example, conversations that people have in a bar with a bunch of friends are different from conversations that happen at the dinner table. They not only vary by topic and language used, but also with whom they’re conversing, the relationship with that person, and the expected level of privacy. As such, it is not surprising to see that people vary their behavior based on their environment. The question then becomes “how do you translate that to online behavior?”
Each message exchanged on Facebook is randomized through the News Feed, stripping context from each message and mixing alcohol-fueled status updates from your friends with pictures from your most recent family get-together. Without context and with everything mixed together, information can be misconstrued, leading some users to limit the amount of information they share.
Since communication is key to Facebook’s success, this is a huge challenge for the company to address.
Solution Idea: Crowdsourcing + Seamless User Experience Design
How Facebook is addressing the problem is interesting. It’s clear that the company wants to create context-specific groups and provide an easy way to interact within the Group, but how do you build that?
We’ve seen how a unilateral system-wide change can backfire (see Google Buzz) and anything that toes the privacy line will attract public scrutiny. Trying to solve this problem with complex algorithms not only takes a long time, but also runs the risk of returning false positives. Imagine what would happened if Facebook incorrectly put you, your significant other, and your ex in the same group. That would be enough to warrant a privacy violation, potentially leading to Facebook users defecting from the site.
Facebook, however, is using ‘social’ as a solution. Web 2.0 has enabled users to act as a consumer as well as a content creator. Social networks are just a platform for these interactions. Without user traffic and user content, social networks will cease to exist.
The most brilliant part of yesterday’s announcement is the focus on the user experience (UX) design. After acknowledging the problem, Facebook is focusing on creating a seamless UX so that anyone can create and use groups. With the new Group redesign, a user can create a group as easily as he or she sends a group email. With the new group features, users will also have a history of context and interactions, as well as group chat and basic document sharing. Most notably, Facebook will get to identify small groups that you choose to interact with.
This social solution hinges on getting the user experience right. Facebook has to win over users with ease of use and create such a seamless UX that the process is almost invisible to the user. If users do indeed find the UX seamless and reap the many benefits offered by groups, the experience will help Facebook overcome any problems or challenges.
These Facebook UX changes will mean more groups being spontaneously created by users, and that presents unique challenges for keeping all the shared contents compliant. The ideal compliance solution should not only discover all these groups that employees created but also make it easy to apply policies to manage them effectively.
Thankfully, the FaceTime Socialite team has been focusing on solving these problems for quite some time already. Anticipating the explosion of smaller groups, the upcoming release of Socialite will include capabilities to discover and manage large numbers of Facebook groups and pages.
Thus, if you have a compliance requirement driven by the proliferation of social media sites, you should be thinking FaceTime, all the time.
When it comes to regulation of the financial services industry, nearly all the focus to date has been at the national level. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) have rightly been in the spotlight regarding the issuing of social media guidance for the financial services sector. The scope of SEC and FINRA regulations extend across state borders and is applied even-handedly on a national level. However, in August of this year, the state of Florida amended its own record-keeping regulations to reflect the growing trend of social media within the enterprise. This was hammered home in an interview we did with Federal Computer Week, where we noticed that Florida was leading the way with respect to specific state guidelines for these new communications channels.
Before August of this year, Florida’s guidelines were drafted with only email in mind. However, given the pace of change within the technology space and the plethora of communications channels now available, Florida realized that its record-keeping guidelines needed to be updated to reflect the changing times. As a result, the state’s General Records Schedule for State and Local Government Agencies was amended to include SMS, BlackBerry PIN, MMS, Facebook, and Twitter within its scope. Florida’s amendment created a buzz that other states would soon follow suit. However, just last week, the state amended Rule 69W-100.007, stating that if an advertisement or piece of sales literature complies with NASD Rule 2210, then it does not have to be approved or filed with the Florida Office of Financial Regulation, effective September 30, 2010.
And for those in the dark about Rule 2210, it requires that a registered principal of a firm approve all advertisements and sales literature prior to use either electronically or in writing and that they all be maintained in a separate file for a period of three years from the date of last use.
What this essentially amounts to is deference to federal guidelines when it comes to overlapping provisions between federal and state bodies. More specifically, the federal standard reigns supreme with respect to the marketing of financial instruments. This clarification on the part of Florida really underscores the importance of remaining compliant with FINRA rules. Other states are following in Florida’s footsteps by incorporating FINRA into their own guidelines.
We’ve got a solid handle on these SEC and FINRA rules because that’s right up our alley – making sure that companies in heavily-regulated industries stay compliant. We’ve got over 1,500 customers, many of which are in the financial services industry. In fact, we count nearly all of the top ten US banks as our customers and about two-thirds of financial services professionals in the US work at a company that uses FaceTime solutions.
FaceTime tracks regulatory developments closely to ensure that the latest trends are considered when building new features for our security, management, and compliance platforms – whether that’s for social networks or unified communications. From the moderation of content to logging and archiving, when we’re specifically talking about social networks, Socialite offers a host of features that can calm the nerves of even the most frazzled compliance and legal officers. At the end of the day, companies that are subject to FINRA regulations, for instance, rely on the level of attentiveness FaceTime applies to this sector and that our solutions are designed with the most applicable guidelines in mind. Check out Facetime’s Mapping of FINRA Regulatory Notice 10-06 to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to see what I mean.
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