FCPA Compliance and Ethics Blog

August 7, 2015

Social Media Week Part V – Tools and Apps for the Compliance Practitioner

Social Media 5-IconsTo conclude this week’s posts, I wanted to list some of the more prevalent social media tools, explain what they are and how you might use them in a compliance program. (As usual I got carried away so this series will conclude on Monday of next week.) You need to remember that your compliance customer base are your employees. The younger the work force, the more tech savvy they will be and the more adapted to communicating through social media. According to Social Media Examiner’s 2015 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, the top two social networks for marketing are Facebook and LinkedIn. The three social media tools that hold the top spot for social media planning are LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter. Marketers report that video streaming is becoming increasingly important tools for markets and that is currently encompassed in Meerkat and Periscope. Finally, I would add that Pinterest is another hot social media app.

Facebook

If you do not know what Facebook is at this point, you may have just transported down from a Borg Cube or perhaps you are a Vulcan looking for First Contact. This is the world’s most ubiquitous social media tool. It combines both personal and business applications. For the compliance practitioner, think about the business uses of Facebook. You can open a Facebook page for your compliance function and share an unlimited amount of information. Equally importantly, you can be responsive when employees comment on your posts, it allows you to interact with them and demonstrate that compliance is listening and responsive. The more regularly you post, the more opportunity you have for connecting with your employee base and building trust.

YouTube 

Much like Facebook, YouTube is one of the most ubiquitous social media tools around. It allows you to upload video and audio recordings for unlimited play. For the compliance practitioner, why not consider creating a YouTube channel for your company’s compliance program. You can put together full training on specific issues or you can create short videos. For an example of short videos, you can check out the training videos I have on my website Advanced Compliance Solutions. If there is any information that you wish to put into a visual format, YouTube is one of the best solutions available to you.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is almost as ubiquitous as Facebook and YouTube. As with Facebook, you can set up a business site or even a private compliance group for your organization. Your employees are the best place to start adding followers, as they are not only your target audience but they are also your biggest advocates. You can encourage employees to add their compliance profile to their personal profiles. By doing so, they automatically become followers and can like, comment on, and share your company updates to help expand your viral reach. As with Facebook, LinkedIn provides you a platform to communicate with your employee base. It has a chat function that can be used to solicit feedback and comments going forward. You can also tie in with or ‘link to’ other groups and people that can facilitate not only creating but also expanding your culture of compliance.

Twitter

Earlier this week, I wrote about how you can use Twitter to capture information from the marketplace of ideas. However Twitter can also be used for communicating with your employee base. Tweets are publicly visible by default, but senders can restrict message delivery to just their followers. Users can tweet via the Twitter website, compatible external applications or by Short Message Service (SMS) available in certain countries. Retweeting is when users forward a tweet via Twitter. Both tweets and retweets can be tracked to see which ones are most popular. Finally, through the use of hashtags (#) users can group posts to Twitter together by topic.

I believe that Twitter is one of the most powerful tools (and completely underused tools) that is available to the compliance function. If employees follow their company’s name through a hashtag, they can see what trending topics other employees are discussing. Compliance practitioners can help lead that internal discussion through the same technique. Moreover, if the Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) or compliance function regularly monitors Twitter they can keep abreast of any communications and those can be used as a backup communication channel, in case the company hotline or other reporting system is not immediately available or even convenient.

Meerkat and Periscope

Two of the newest and perhaps coolest tools a CCO or compliance practitioner can utilize in the realm of social media are Meerkat and Periscope. Both tools allow you to tell a compliance story in real time, throughout your organization and beyond through the capture and broadcast of video, live through your smartphone. They are both live streaming apps that enable you to create a video and open the portal to anyone who wants to use it. Anybody in your Twitter community can click on that link and watch whatever you’re showing on your phone. The big piece is the mobile aspect. It is as simple as a basic tweet and hitting the “stream” button.

This is one of the more exciting new social media tools I see for the compliance practitioner. You could start a compliance campaign along the lines a campaign that the company Hootsuite initiated called “Follow the Sun” using Periscope. They decided to let their employees showcase what they called #HootsuiteLife. They gave access to different people in every company office around the globe. Throughout the day, it would “Follow the Sun,” and people in different offices would log into the Hootsuite account and walk around and show off their culture, interviewing their friends, etc. They talk about the importance of culture and now they are proving it. The number of inbound applications drastically increased after people got that sneak peek into their company. You could do the same for your worldwide compliance team.

You can live stream video training around the globe. Moreover, if you use either of these tools in conjunction with internal podcasting or other messaging you can create those all important “Compliance Reminders” which were so prominently mentioned in the Morgan Stanley Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) Declination. The videos that you create with both of these tools can be saved and stored so a record of what you have created can be documented going forward.

Pinterest

According to Pinterest for Dummies, this tool is an online bulletin board, a visual take on the social bookmarking site, where the content shared is driven entirely by visuals. In fact, you cannot share something on Pinterest unless an image is involved. When you share something on Pinterest, each bookmark is called a pin. When you share someone else’s pin, it’s called a repin. Your group pins together by topic onto various boards, aka pinboards, in your profile. Each board mimics a real-life pinboard. You can share images you find online, or you can directly upload images. Using the “Pin It” button, you can share directly in your browser from any web page. You can also share your pins on Twitter and Facebook.

Although a relatively new social media tool, I find it to be one of the more interesting ones for use by the compliance function as it compliments many of the other tools I discussed above. You can set up your compliance account for your organization and pin items, lists, or other visual information that can be viewed and used by employees. In addition to the enumerated items, you can pin such things as a link, a website, graphics or other forms of information. If you think of it as an online bulletin board, you can consider all of the compliance information that you can post for your customer base and the interactions they can have back with you.

All of these tools can help you as CCO or a compliance practitioner to engage with your customer base. On Monday, I will conclude with some final thoughts on why the compliance function should use social media tools available to them.

Once again please remember that I am compiling a list of questions that you would like to be explored or answered on the use of social media in your compliance program. So if you have any questions email them to me, at tfox@tfoxlaw.com, and I will answer them within the next couple of weeks in my next Mailbag Episode on my podcast, the FCPA Compliance and Ethics Report.

 

This publication contains general information only and is based on the experiences and research of the author. The author is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, legal advice, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such legal advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified legal advisor. The author, his affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person or entity that relies on this publication. The Author gives his permission to link, post, distribute, or reference this article for any lawful purpose, provided attribution is made to the author. The author can be reached at tfox@tfoxlaw.com.

 

© Thomas R. Fox, 2015

August 3, 2015

Social Media Week Part I – Using Social Media In Your Compliance Program

Social Media 1Welcome to Part I of Social Media Week. I recently did a webinar, hosted by The Network, on the use of social media in your Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) compliance program. The response was as great as almost any other webinar in which I have participated. Based upon the overwhelming feedback, this week I will post a series of blogs on the use of social media in your compliance program. In Part I, I begin with a discussion of why you should integrate social media into your compliance program.

I have been studying the business side of social media for some time now as a way to help understand how I might more effectively and more creatively bring the message of doing compliance to my readers and podcast listeners. This led me to think about the message of compliance inside of a corporation and how it is distributed. In a compliance program, a large portion of your consumers/customers are your employees. Social media presents some excellent mechanisms to communicate the message of compliance going forward. Many of the applications that we use in our personal communication are free or available at very low cost. So why not take advantage of them and use those same communication tools in your internal compliance marketing efforts going forward.

On the Social Media Examiner site, which brands itself as “Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle”, is a podcast entitled “Social Sharing: How to Inspire Fans to Share Your Stories”, hosted by Michael Stelzner, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Founder of the site. In the podcast Stelzner interviews Simon Mainwaring, author of “We First: How Brands and Consumers Use Social Media to Build a Better World”, who said that to allow them to market successfully there are three key components, (1) Let your employees know what you stand for; (2) Celebrate their efforts; and (3) Give them a tool kit of different ways to participate. I think each of these concepts can play a key role for the compliance practitioner in internally marketing their compliance program.

Let Your Employees Know What You Stand For

In the FCPA Guidance, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said that the basis of any anti-corruption compliance program is the Code of Conduct as it is “often the foundation upon which an effective compliance program is built. As DOJ has repeatedly noted in its charging documents, the most effective codes are clear, concise, and accessible to all employees and to those conducting business on the company’s behalf.” That well known @CodeMavencc, Catherine Choe, has said that she believes “Two of the primary goals of any Code are first, to document and clarify minimum expectations of acceptable behavior at a company, and second, to encourage employees to speak up when they have questions or witness misconduct.”

But more than the Code of Conduct, does your company really communicate that it stands for compliance? Obviously formal anti-corruption training under the FCPA is important but I think that more is required to reinforce that your company has a culture of compliance throughout the organization. In other words, are you communicating what you stand for and not simply the rules and regulations of a compliance program?

Celebrate Their Efforts

Once again the FCPA Guidance speaks to the need to incentivize employees in the company realm. The Guidance states, “DOJ and SEC recognize that positive incentives can also drive compliant behavior. These incentives can take many Guiding Principles of Enforcement forms such as personnel evaluations and promotions, rewards for improving and developing a company’s compliance program, and rewards for ethics and compliance leadership. Some organizations, for example, have made adherence to compliance a significant metric for management’s bonuses so that compliance becomes an integral part of management’s everyday concern.” But more than simply incentives, it is important to “[M]ake integrity, ethics and compliance part of the promotion, compensation and evaluation processes as well.”

Mainwaring’s concept means going beyond incentivizing. To me his word ‘celebrate’ means a more public display of success. Financial rewards may be given in private, such as a portion of an employee’s discretionary bonus credited to doing business ethically and in compliance with the FCPA. While it is certainly true those employees who are promoted for doing business ethically and in compliance are very visible and are public displays of an effective compliance program. I think that a company can take this concept even further through a celebration to help create, foster and acknowledge the culture of compliance for its day-to-day operations. Bobby Butler, at Universal Weather and Aviation, Inc., has spoken about how his company celebrated compliance through the event of Compliance Week. He said that he and his team attended this event and used it as a springboard to internally publicize their compliance program. Their efforts included three separate prongs: they were hosting inter-company events to highlight the company’s compliance program; providing employees with a Brochure highlighting the company’s compliance philosophy and circulating a Booklet which provided information on the company’s compliance hotline and Compliance Department personnel.

Give Your Employees a Tool Kit For Compliance

Obviously a key component of any effective compliance program is an internal reporting mechanism. The FCPA Guidance states, “An effective compliance program should include a mechanism for an organization’s employees and others to report suspected or actual misconduct or violations of the company’s policies on a confidential basis and without fear of retaliation.” The Guidance goes on to also discuss the use of an ombudsman to address employee concerns about compliance and ethics. I do not think that many companies have fully explored the use of an ombudsman but it is certainly one way to help employees with their compliance concerns. Interestingly, in an interview in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) with Sean McKessy, Chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower, he stated, “What I hear is that companies are generally investing more in internal compliance as a result of our whistleblower program so that if they have an employee who sees something, they’ll feel incentivized to report it internally and not necessarily come to us.”

Two of the newest and perhaps coolest tools a Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) or compliance practitioner can utilize in the realm of social media are Meerkat and Periscope. Both tools allow you to tell a compliance story in real time, throughout your organization and beyond. They are both live streaming apps that enable you to create a video and open the portal to anyone who wants to use it. Anybody in your Twitter community can click on that link and watch whatever you’re showing on your phone. The big piece is the mobile aspect. It’s as simple as a basic tweet and hitting the “stream” button.

However, there are a wide variety of social media tools available that you can incorporate into your compliance program. Apps like Pinterest, Snapchat, Instagram and others may seem like tools that are solely suited to personal use. However their application is much broader. Over the next week, I will be exploring some of these apps and tools and how they might be used in doing compliance. As with many ideas in the compliance space, a CCO or compliance practitioner is only limited by their imagination. For these apps, they can be most useful when you tell the story of compliance in your company. Hootsuite did a campaign called “Follow the Sun” using Periscope. They decided to let their employees showcase what they called #HootsuiteLife. They gave access to different people in every company office around the globe. Throughout the day, it would “Follow the Sun,” and people in different offices would log into the Hootsuite account and walk around and show off their culture, interviewing their friends, etc. They talk about the importance of culture and now they are proving it. The number of inbound applications drastically increased after people got that sneak peek into their company.

Yet there are other tools available, at no cost, and can be downloaded onto a mobile device such as a smartphone or iPad. These include the O’Melveny & Myers LLP Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Handbook; which concentrates solely on the FCPA and is primarily a new vehicle to distribute content it already makes available upon request. This content includes O’Melveny’s FCPA Handbook and In-House Counsel’s Guide to Conducting Internal Investigations. In addition, the app features five resource sections that serve as an interactive, illustrative directory with titles ranging from ‘O’Melveny Authored Client Alerts’ to ‘DOJ Opinion Releases’.

Another approach is found in the Latham & Watkins LLP’s AB&C Laws app which takes an international approach to anti-corruption and anti-bribery laws, with the content focused on organizing and easing access to statutes and regulatory guidance according to specific fields of interest, from legislative frameworks to extra-territorial application to enforcement and potential penalties. It also includes official guidance such as steps (where available) that can be taken to reduce the risk of liability for bribery and corruption.

There is much to be learned by the CCO and compliance practitioner from the disciplines of marketing and social media. These concepts are useful to companies in getting their sales pitches out and can be of great help to you, the CCO or compliance practitioner, in collaborating and marketing throughout your company. I hope you will follow this week’s Use of Social Media series as I will endeavor to provide to you not only with a discussion of some new tools which you can incorporate into your compliance program going forward but also a different way to think about who your customers are and how you are reaching them with your message of doing compliance.

Finally, I am compiling a list of questions that you would like to be explored or answered on the use of social media in your compliance program. So if you have any questions email them to me, at tfox@tfoxlaw.com, and I will answer them within the next couple of weeks in my next Mailbag Episode on my podcast, The FCPA Compliance and Ethics Report.

This publication contains general information only and is based on the experiences and research of the author. The author is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, legal advice, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such legal advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified legal advisor. The author, his affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person or entity that relies on this publication. The Author gives his permission to link, post, distribute, or reference this article for any lawful purpose, provided attribution is made to the author. The author can be reached at tfox@tfoxlaw.com.

© Thomas R. Fox, 2015

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