by Michael Idinopulos
on October 22, 2013

Why Social Compliance and Enablement Don't Mix

Now that social media compliance vendors are adding user enablement features, insurance executives here at LIMRA’s annual conference keep asking me: Should we use our social media compliance tool to stimulate employee adoption of social tools like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter?

The answer is simple: Keep compliance and enablement separate.

Social compliance and social enablement are both hard to get right, and both categories are fairly young. No one’s going to be great at both.

And there’s more than just difficulty; social compliance and social enablement actually conflict with one another. Regulated industries need both, so the conflict between enablement and compliance is healthy. But it’s a conflict nonetheless.

Enablement is all about opening things up. A good social enablement tool empowers employees to create rich profiles, build robust networks, and engage connections with content. It’s all about removing barriers to activity.

Compliance is all about shutting things down. A good compliance tool flags suspect behavior. It creates doubt. It makes employees think twice about what they’re posting on social sites. It erects barriers to activity.

If there’s one thing the last century of regulation has taught us, it’s that compliance must be independent.

Just think of Arthur Andersen’s attempt to provide both audit and consulting services. Arthur Andersen found it could make a lot more money cross-selling enablement (consulting) to its audit clients (compliance). Soon the consultants were running the show, the audits were compromised, and Arthur Andersen was found guilty of perpetuating fraud.

Compliance and enablement are like the break and gas pedals on a car. They need to be separate. Connect them, and sooner or later you’re going to end up some place you’d rather not be.

Arthur Andersen’s mistake wasn’t immediately obvious. The compromise of enablement and compliance was subtle and went mostly unnoticed, until it was too late for both Arthur Andersen and its clients’ shareholders. That’s how compliance breaches work. You go from zero to crisis in no time flat.

At some point, regulators may require the independence of social compliance from enablement. Until then, companies would do well to voluntarily keep the two separate.




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