Social media e-discovery: Crucial, even in its infancy

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An increasing number of tools can help, but there are many issues to work through first

Until late last year, First Command Financial Services' presence on the social Web was pretty much nil: No corporate Facebook pages and no business-related postings by its 400 registered investment advisors (RIAs), although they could have personal accounts.

Last December, that changed. The company launched corporate pages on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter and started a blog called "Your Money Matters" on MilitaryTimes.com. By year-end, 50 RIAs will start interacting with clients via Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, with 100 more scheduled for next year, according to Katherine Kirkpatrick, First Command's director of social media.

But before all this could happen, a team of compliance, IT, marketing and legal people spent months developing policies and an infrastructure for managing social media usage, surveillance, retention and e-discovery in compliance with stringent federal regulations and internal rules, Kirkpatrick says.

"We absolutely want to take advantage of social media's business potential, but we have to work within the compliance framework," Kirkpatrick says.

First Command is in good company. "Financial service firms are taking social media archiving and e-discovery seriously because regulators tell them to," says Michael Osterman, president of Osterman Research, a consultancy in Black Diamond, Wash.

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