Today’s post comes from Joanna Belbey, Social Media and Compliance Specialist at Actiance.
Microsoft recently announced integration within Outlook with LinkedIn, Facebook, and Live Messenger. What does that mean exactly?
When you send an email, you will see a detailed history of your interaction with your contacts, plus their photos and status updates on Facebook and LinkedIn. In other words, rather than the two-step process of looking at someone’s profile on LinkedIn or reading their Tweets, and then sending an email or a meeting notice, everything’s right within Outlook.
In short, Microsoft has just made it easier to understand and relate to our clients and colleagues. And for them to get to know us better. They’ve accelerated the movement of the integration between the personal and professional.
Did you just say, “cool!”? or did you cringe?
As a Social Media and Compliance Specialist at Actiance, I speak at industry events and meet face to face with professionals within the financial services industry. My mission is to help enable the effective use of social media within the enterprise while complying with the rules and regulations. Every day, I see firms moving away from their original stance of “No!” to social media to beginning to puzzle out the “How?”. They are collaborating across departments like Marketing, Legal, Compliance, Investor Relations, Human Resources, IT and Security to develop social media policies. They are working through the compliance issues and selecting vendors like Actiance to help them enable their financial advisors to use social media while protecting their firm’s brand and staying compliant.
But what do the end users, the Financial Advisors, think about what’s coming?
I recently spoke in Boston and New York at “Social Media Marketing: Don’t Forget the Sex” conducted by WealthManagement.com and Actiance. Although the events had a provocative title, the sessions took a serious look at the demographics of adoption of social media. According to a study by WealthManagement.com, Financial Advisors under 35 are more likely to use social media for business purposes than those 55 or older (68% vs. 45%). No surprise there. But, what was surprising is that with a bit of prodding and some training on Best Practices, advisors over 55 tend to get better engagement. Once they learn the tools, they recognize that social media is just another way to interact with prospects and clients.
In both cities, I found financial advisers who were nervous about using social media. They asked me the same questions:
Q: “How do I separate business and personal?”
A: Unless your firm has a special arrangement with LinkedIn, you can only have one account. On Twitter, you may set up separate accounts (e.g., @Belbey and @Belbey_Actiance) and even make them private. And for now, you can only have one identity on Facebook, so depending on your firm’s polices, from your personal profile you create a business page and direct your clients there. Or, if you don’t already have a Facebook account, you can set up just a professional page. However, these workarounds miss the point. Instead of thinking about how to shield your personal life from your clients and colleagues, think about how to let your personality shine through. Remember, with Microsoft’s announcement, true integration between personal and professional is coming…. If you have a passion for Bruce Springsteen, movies, golf, sailing, your alma mater or just couch surfing, let your connections know it.
Q: How much of my personal life do I need to reveal?
A: If you are using social media primarily for business, Jason Seiden (@Seiden), Co-Founder and CEO of Ajax Social Media suggests making 20% of your updates personal, in order to be authentic. After all, we buy from people with similar interests and who we like, right?
Q: “How can I protect my clients from being poached by other financial advisors?”
A: On LinkedIn, you can make your connections private by changing the settings, on Facebook you can change the privacy settings and control who can see what, and you can even make Twitter private. But, again, this question misses the point. Rather than “defense,” think “offense.” If you are helpful and engage with your prospects and clients on social media, you will strengthen the relationship, not lose it to some stranger.
Q “How much time will this take?”
A. If your firm provides a library of pre-approved content and technology to schedule updates, posting content and interacting on social media won’t take much time at all. Perhaps an hour once a week to schedule your updates, and then 30 minutes a day to interact with your connections / followers / friends.
Q. “How do I start?” And “What do I say?” and the biggest unspoken question, “How do I avoid looking foolish?
A. Good questions. Before you begin to use social media, be sure to read your firm’s social media policy for direction. Hopefully, they will provide training on Best Practices and how to comply with the communications regulations. And it’s always a good idea to listen for awhile to begin to understand how it works before you jump in. And of course, use common sense. This is a public forum. Bottom line: approach social media through the lens of being helpful to your connections. Think about your clients. You might specialize in working with entrepreneurs, or small businesses, women, or perhaps ultra-high net worth individuals. Share content that they might find useful or interesting. To help you, many firms create a library of pre-approved content that you can tap.
The true integration of business and professional through Microsoft and Social Media won’t be implemented at your firm overnight. But, once it does, will you be ready?