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Hearsay Launches Social Media Management For Branch Offices

Platform helps corporations maintain control over brand, compliance when local representatives use Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to support customer relationships.

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Startup Hearsay today released Hearsay Social, a social media management solution designed to allow corporate companies with local offices -- such as clients State Farm, 24 Hour Fitness, and Farmers Insurance -- to climb aboard the social networking bandwagon, while avoiding branding errors and mitigating compliance risks.

Hearsay Social was designed for businesses that combine a strong corporate brand with many local presences through franchises, regional representatives, store managers, independent agents, or advisors, the company said. Using this tool, the corporate office allows local representatives to nurture customer relationships via social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter -- yet ensure these representatives stay within the organization's brand guidelines, industry regulations, and corporate governance, according to Hearsay.

In addition, this allows businesses subject to federal regulations to comply with government laws, such as those mandated by the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), and Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the company said.

Many financial organizations, for example, continue to grapple with the issue of social media. Increasingly, clients will ask financial companies to communicate with them via Twitter and other social media tools for customer service, pushing the financial firms to implement these technologies, Denise Valentine, senior analyst with Aite Group, told Securities Technology Monitor. But despite the allure of deepening their customer engagement, some chief compliance officers still shun these sites due to privacy and regulatory worries, she said.

And 94% of businesses do not use social media for customer feedback, according to a December 2010 study by MarketTools.

"Companies need to know what their customers are saying about them online, and they need to use this unsolicited feedback to not only address the concerns of the individual customer, but to uncover insights to help improve business processes that lead to higher overall customer satisfaction," said Justin Schuster, VP of enterprise products at MarketTools, when the report was released.

Organizations may be loath to use social networking for customer feedback because of the technology's viral nature, companies' perceived inability to control the brand, fears about compliance and security, and the sheer volume, according to Hearsay.

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