Case study: Social media success in regulated industries

social media success in regulated industries

I teach at Rutgers University in New Jersey, the epicenter for many major companies in pharmaceuticals, insurance, and banking. And when leaders from these companies take my classes on digital marketing, this is the comment that arises almost every time: “But Mark, you don’t understand. We’re regulated.”

And here is my response that I bring to you today. “The time to hide behind this excuse is over. Figure. It. Out!”

Harsh? Insensitive? I don’t think so. The companies who re-organize and adjust for today’s market realities and customer needs will win. This is what must happen and in a few cases, this is what IS happening. Let’s look at an example.

Social media and regulated industries: A love story

My friend Jeremy Floyd is one of the brightest marketers I know and is President of BPV Capital Management. Financial services is a highly regulated industry. They have incredible restrictions on publishing, advertising, and even live interviews. Every piece of content must be reviewed by an attorney, and often an outside compliance agency. They can’t post claims or customer testimonies.

This is an excruciating marketing environment. And yet … BPV is a content marketing machine.

How can this be? The answer is simple. Jeremy and the leadership team realized that to market in today’s digital environment they had to finally move away from “brochures” and fear of the digital realm.

They had to overhaul their strategy, their organization, and their mindset to compete with the cards in their deck:

  • They created a management structure that supports the rapid development of content — including access to an attorney who can approve something in as little as an hour.
  • They built a strong workflow and approval process to make interaction across departments more efficient.
  • The content team became data-centric so they could produce content based on what the numbers were telling them.
  • They invested in studio facilities to create compelling video and audio content. And they hired talented young people from outside the industry who knew how to create digital content and more important, analyze the results.

Today, BPV has a consistent content marketing plan that includes exceptional blogging, eBooks, presentations, videos, a podcast, and live webinars. They are also actively re-purposing content into different marketing channels to get the most economic value from their content investment.

They also engaged my Content Code consulting practice to learn how to measure their content marketing effectiveness and ignite their content to dramatically distance themselves from competitors. They are dominating the marketing airwaves and setting the stage for even more success because essentially they are the only company in their niche marketing this way!

The lessons for social media success in a regulated industry

Here are the lessons we can learn from BPV’s dramatic success using modern marketing techniques in a regulated industry:

CULTURE is the cure

This is the big one. BPV has an enlightened, forward-thinking leadership team eager to embrace change and communicate in new ways. If your company is still in the social media dark ages, the first step toward success may not be a new Facebook page. It’s probably executive education. There is no such thing as a grassroots cultural change. This shift must be led from the top. 


BPV changed the historical dynamic in their industry and put the resources in place to succeed. They gave Jeremy the freedom to re-invent the marketing department and provided the resources necessary to stay compliant and get necessary approvals within an hour. Sure there are obstacles in a regulated business. Let’s stop whining and DO something about it.

love the lawyers

Stop using the legal department as an excuse. In my experience I have found that the Legal Department really does want to help you succeed. Approach this team as a resource, not an obstacle.

I saw first-hand how Jeremy and his team had to fight through old paradigms to make incremental progress on a daily basis. They came up with creative solutions, such as an interactive spreadsheet shared between marketing and compliance to speed up the social posting process. Instead of accepting “no” answers, they searched for alternatives and compromises. Over time they built a collaborative relationship with the compliance department, because they were building “wins” together.


The BPV leadership team knew content marketing represents a long-term investment … but also a huge opportunity for competitive differentiation. Their competitors are asleep at the wheel and they have a chance to establish themselves as a social-savvy and progressive company in an un-saturated content niche. They will be the first wealth management company to connect with Millennials — and don’t you think this will give them a hiring advantage too?


BPV has ‘future proofed” its content presence by enabling new strategies focused on content ignition. There is no economic value in content if it is not seen and shared. By focusing on Content Code strategies, BPV is already years ahead of competitors.

If you’re in a regulated industry, it’s time to stop making excuses and figure this out. Are you really restricted from having an effective social media presence or are you hiding behind this as an excuse to not change? In most cases, it’s the latter.

The companies who are first to embrace these ideas, to establish a helpful and human presence with its customers, will have a distinct and lasting advantage finding social media success in regulated industries.


Disclosure: BPV was a customer in 2015 but I received no compensation in any form for this content.

mark schaefer

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  • Great post Mark – and timely. Wondering if you have recommendations for those individual contributors in regulated industries where the company has not embraced social media. Thanks!

  • The solution is very simple. Change must come from the top. There is no such things as a grassroots cultural change. The leaders MUST understand social media (plusses and risks) and appropriately sponsor the activity. They don’t have to tweet or blog, but they have to know how it works and actively reward the efforts and be involved in the strategy discussions. Sometimes social media success does not start with a Facebook page, it starts with executive education. Does that help?

  • Loved this post; because even though you’re focusing on regulated industries there are still things to apply to those who haven’t fully embraced social media. 🙂

  • I am so happy you posted this case study. Financial companies have been hiding behind this excuse for way too long. Kudos to BPV’s team for working with the lawyers… and to you for focusing on executive education.

  • Thanks for the kind comment Danielle.

  • This has been a real hot button for me. I hear it so much over and over in my classes that it is making me edgy! Come on people. We can do this. : )

  • Yup. It’s just so frustrating when I hear from employees in regulated industries that they can’t even have an optimized LinkedIn profile without jumping through a bunch of hoops!

  • I hear the same thing. They treat their employees like they are idiots.

  • “Culture is the cure.” Exactly! It’s also the problem. Communication is a function of leadership.

  • “no such things as a grassroots cultural change” is SO true. In large, heavily bureaucratic companies with ‘old school’ top brass it is insane how there can be zero buy-in for anything content, social or digital. If you don’t have an ally at the top who understands the importance of this and/or how it works, it is a battle that is doomed for the start and can really burn you out.

  • Thanks Frank.

  • Amen!

  • Inspired.
    As entrepreneurs and business leaders we have to learn to see the opportunities in the obstacles we face in order to ensure success. Completely re framing my mind about the pathway to success.
    Thank you for sharing.

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