Social Media and Compliance

Compliance, ethics, and legal executives at Johnson & Johnson, Best Buy, and The Travelers Companies will provide details on their social media policies, programs, and experiences, focusing on a variety of cultural, legal, and disclosure-related issues.


  • Johnson & Johnson Senior Counsel & Assistant Corporate Secretary Douglas K. Chia
  • Best Buy Chief Ethics Officer Kathleen Edmond
  • The Travelers Companies, Inc. SVP, Chief Compliance Officer & Group General Counsel David Baker
  • Compliance Week Columnist; President, Docket Media LLC; Founder and Editor, Securities Docket, the ubiquitous Bruce Carton (moderator)

I introduced Bruce and the rest of this panel. Then I helped to control the rambunctious crowd.

Travelers is using social media for complaints. You make a claim through their iPhone app. They also use it as a tool for customer service and advertising. They will push out an update on Twitter and Facebook when a catastrophe van in the area of a natural disaster.

Doug is active in social media so he can look at how the company could use social media. Currently their prime use is for their retail products. They are going to where their customers are hanging out. They use the JNJ BTW blog to publish current events at Johnson & Johnson. They are using the corporate twitter (JNJcomm) account to push out information from the shareholder meetings.

Doug highlighted a list of legal, compliance, reputational and logistical issues to consider when a company steps into social media.

Kathleen created her blog to help educate her workforce about what could get you fired. Retail companies have a huge employee turnover. The industry average is close to 100%. If someone is going to tell her story, she wants to be the person to tell it.

Best Buy has lots of social media outlets: Twelpforce, CEO’s Whiteboard, CEO’s Twitter, CMO’s Twitter, CMO’s blog.

She also used internal social media to help develop policies. She used an internal wiki to get feedback on potential policies and issues. She thinks feedback from employees is important in developing good, enforceable policies.

There is the fear of litigation. What you say could cost you and subject you to a lawsuit. Of course, if it’s effective it can save you lots of money by avoiding the bad situations.

It’s tough to work in a conservative company when facing something as innovative as social media.

One company assemble a social media task force to draft a social media policy. They managed to create a user reference manual to give detailed guidelines to the employees.

The audience expressed some concern about the improper disclosure of company information. The panel pointed out that social media is merely a newer avenue for disclosure. People have been able to improperly disclose information for years.

One of the panelists stated that they do block access to social media sites. Another pointed out that employees could just go to their mobile phone or find other ways to waste time.  It seems silly to block access to the sites if you are using the sites to market your company.

An interesting audience question was whether a privacy failure at a social media site would impact the company. Could you be tainted by a Facebook failure. It seems remote.

How do you manage the boundaries between personal and professional uses of social media. Make it clear that you are not stating the company position. Don’t use the company name in your handle or profile name. It’s @dougchia, not @J&JDougChia.


David Baker:

Doug Chia

Kathleen Edmond