3 Businesses That Should Completely Avoid Social Media

ImageAs if! It’s 2013 and no business in their right mind should be avoiding social media. Did you expect to see your industry listed here? Well, I don’t want to completely let you down then. There still some CMO’s trying to avoid social media at all costs. I have clients across almost every business vertical and from my experience in talking with customers; here are a few of the industries that still perceive the most risk around social media:

Banking and Finance

“@PropelMichelle Check #102 bounced and we have to charge you $25. #LOL #TryAgain”

You will probably never receive a tweet like this. However, there is still a level of concern among banks regarding privacy, compliance, and regulation on social media. This past January, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council released a set of guidelines aimed at helping companies navigate the uncharted social waters. An excerpt from the document says, “Financial institutions may use social media in a variety of ways, including marketing, providing incentives, facilitating applications for new accounts, inviting feedback from the public, and engaging with existing and potential customers, for example, by receiving and responding to complaints, or providing loan pricing”.

The overarching theme of these guidelines, along with FINRA’s guidelines, is that banks can’t employ unfair, abusive, or deceptive acts or practices. The same regulations that apply to traditional media apply in social media. You wouldn’t post sensitive information about your customers, promote inflated CD rates, or discourage a certain group of people from applying for a loan on Facebook or Twitter. Financial organizations can protect themselves by reviewing these guidelines, ensuring they have the FDIC logo on their social pages, and keeping a record of all social conversations.

Center the conversation around something important to your community rather than finance. Chase has done a great job using social media as a platform for their Chase Community Giving fan page: https://www.facebook.com/ChaseCommunityGiving


“@PropelMichelle We found you at fault for the accident and ur premium is going WAY up. #Sorry #LearnHowToDrive”

Another industry that still perceives a high amount of risk with social media is the insurance industry. In a 2012 survey conducted at the Professional Liability Underwriting Society’s annual conference, the primary concern raised among insurance professionals was “data leakage”. Additional concerns include defamation, libel, or slander, copyright and/or trademark infringement, and lack of risk management policies.

The FINRA guidelines may apply to some insurance organizations, though not all are bound by this. Insurance has federal and local regulations, guidelines, and mandates. Insurance companies should maintain records of all social media messages and conversations. Though there is no easy way to do this at present, there are some companies out there developing software which will assist in social record keeping. A manager should supervise what is being said on social media at all times. This is not to say that all content should be preapproved. Social media often demands responses in real time, but a trained supervisor should be monitoring it. Create a social media policy for your company. Traveler’s Insurance has a great social media policy posted on their website for all to see: https://www.travelers.com/about-us/social-media/guidelines.aspx


“@PropelMichelle – It’s Dr. Seuss, give me a call please, your test results came back positive for #GreenEggsandHam”.

Many medical practices and hospitals are letting their HIPAA anxiety prevent them from embracing social media.  It may seem scary at first, but with a social media policy in place and a clear understanding of patient confidentiality guidelines, there is no reason these companies can’t thrive on social media too. The same rules that apply to patient confidentiality offline, apply online.  Use common sense. You wouldn’t use social media to communicate with a patient in a public forum. Stay away from practicing medicine at all through social media. What you can do is share helpful information, community updates, feature a charity that you are involved with, etc. An example of a hospital that does this well is Children’s Hospital in Boston: https://www.facebook.com/BostonChildrensHospital

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Michelle Mastrobattista is a Social Media Manager for Propel Marketing – a GateHouse Media company. She works with over fifty SMB’s creating social media strategies and helping them navigate the digital marketing landscape. @PropelMichelle



  1. Wonderful post! I agree that no company should not have a social media presence, but those in regulated industries should be very prudent in how they go about it. A great example with Chase, by creating a community for their fans where they can interact can be more beneficial for a company than just tweeting at them information! Companies in these industries have to be careful with what they say because they can be liable to lawsuits. Like you said, there should be a trained supervisor monitoring all social media activity.

  2. Very nice post! I loved the fake Tweets. Each of these industries do have to stay within the regulations, but like you stated they can turn to SM to listen to their customers, promote their services and products.

  3. Awesome! I loved the creativity!! I agree that every company should have a social media platform. I agree that banking, insurance, and healthcare are 3 industries that you have to be very careful when using social media. One wrong move can cost the company big time. Everything published on social media platforms will have to be generalized. Great examples!!

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