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How to Make Social Media Compliance Automatic

One provider aims to simplify social media archiving.

Bill Winterberg, 06/17/2011

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Readers of this column should be no strangers to technology solutions related to the use of social media. My column 2010's Best Tech for Advisors featured two social media archiving providers as the Best Back-Office Technology award winners, Austin, Texas-based Socialware and Arkovi of Dover, Ohio.

Another such provider has quickly gained visibility and momentum in the social media archiving market this year, which is appropriate given the growth in advisors' interest in using social media to connect with clients and prospects. Erado Message Control Solutions based in Renton, Wash., offers a novel approach to automate the task of capturing and archiving social media messages for compliance purposes.

Message Archiving Review
To quickly review, both FINRA representatives and SEC-registered advisors actively using social media in conjunction with their businesses are required to capture and archive their messages to satisfy their respective regulatory requirements. Some advisors manually print copies of their social media profiles, either on paper or in PDF format, on a regular basis to build a compliance file, but this process is time consuming and easy to neglect, making it a poor approach to thorough archiving.

Throughout 2010, several companies created solutions designed to automate the social media archiving process, giving advisors the ability to continue using new communication tools while minimizing the amount of time needed to satisfy compliance requirements.

Two Capture Methods
There are two primary methods employed to automate the capture of social media messages. The first method involves configuring web browser proxy settings for each device used to post social media updates. Connectivity to sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter is routed through a proxy service so that status updates and other activities can be monitored and captured by a third-party vendor. Socialware is an example of a company implementing proxy settings to perform message capture and archiving, though the company has recently incorporated a second capture method to its toolkit.

The second method takes advantage of an application program interface, or API, supported by social media services like those mentioned above. With an API, users typically grant permission to a third-party application specifically written to capture social media updates. Erado exclusively uses APIs for its capture method and then extends compliance automation by using a flexible electronic message delivery system.

Erado's Approach
Founded in 1994, Erado is no stranger to electronic communication compliance. The company first introduced an e-mail archiving service in 1996 and has continued to expand its offerings to include virus, spam, and encryption applications for businesses ranging from small organizations to Fortune 500 companies.

Bill Winterberg, CFP, is a technology and operations consultant to independent financial advisors. His comments on technology have been featured in a variety of financial industry publications. You can view more information about Bill and see his schedule of upcoming speaking engagements at his Web site, FPPad.com. The author is a freelance contributor to MorningstarAdvisor.com. The views expressed in this article may or may not reflect the views of Morningstar.
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