Category Archives: Trends

Thought Leadership Series: Cambridge Ignite 2013

By Victor Gaxiola,   October 3, 2013

cir4Some of you may know that in my past life I used to work as a financial advisor helping clients design investment strategies to meet their goals in retirement.  It all started back in 2004 when I partnered with my wife Kim, and joined A.G. Edwards in Woodstock, Illinois. Over time, and as is common in this industry, A.G. Edwards was acquired by Wachovia Securities and then by Wells Fargo Advisors.  During this time of transition, we decided to move back home and settled in Northern California.

On October 18th, 2010, we left Wells Fargo Advisors and went independent partnering with Cambridge Investment Research based in Fairfield, Iowa.   There were many reasons for the move, but one of the primary catalysts was that Cambridge was pioneering the use of social media for advisors to promote and build their businesses.  Within days of the move we set up our business Facebook page, Twitter handles, and fully developed LinkedIn profiles.  The social platforms proved instrumental as a communication medium to announce updates during our transition and then later when we experienced market volatility in the summer of 2011. Having been a practitioner of social networking tools on a personal level and in support of the various non-profits I belonged too, I saw social networking as a natural extension of our practice. Our social platforms served as a bridge providing us the opportunity to share information and gather intelligence from the posts of our clients.

In an industry that champions transparency and authenticity social networking was a gift.  Where else would clients, prospects, friends and connection so freely express their likes, dislikes and values?   In my view, social networking was providing me a window into the lives of our clients and allowed me to know them better.  Social became a compliment to our practice and the face-to-face interaction that is vital to the relationship.  It was also very useful in maintaining a close relationship with the clients we had in Illinois, Wisconsin, New Jersey and Florida. The online connection, allowed us a more intimate glimpse on their lives, and an ability to share our own adventures, travels, and experiences.  It’s something that continues to this day.

cir2Every year Cambridge Investment Research holds its annual Ignite conference, and this year the event took place last week in Scottsdale, Arizona.  Hundreds of advisors, their spouses, and home office leadership and staff gather for two and half days to learn from each other and discuss changes and trends in the industry.  The conference is an opportunity for advisors and the home office to learn from each other and get a glimpse of what’s next in the industry and at Cambridge. Excellent keynote speakers are invited to teach, motivate, and inspire, and you can easily feel the energy and sparks in the room with each presentation.   Standing ovations are common.

As a former advisor I understand and feel connected to the content and try to remain objective and focused on the big picture.  From my 10,000 foot view I am looking for themes to emerge so that I can maintain some perspective on what to expect in the future.   It was refreshing for me to see that one of the primary themes from this conference was a desire to return to the basics and a re-newed focus and commitment to build stronger relationships.  This theme was reinforced time and time again by the keynote speakers and it was music to my ears given the gift that is social networking.

cir3One of my favorite presenters was social selling and relationship marketing author/speaker Kevin Knebl who presented the value of LinkedIn.   I say favorite because his presentation was SPOT ON  as he stressed the importance of having an optimized profile and illustrated how advisors can derive value by participating, exploring, and sharing in the social conversation.   He had us at “hello.”

He stressed that in today’s market, consumers have multiple mediums now to vet out the professionals they will work with.  Gone are the days of the yellow pages and today it’s not uncommon for consumers  to do a Google search on the products and services they buy.  So, why would looking for an advisor be any different?  The reality is that having a profile on LinkedIn is no longer a “nice to have”; it’s a “need to have.”  As the most professional business platform in the world- how could it not be worth your time?  LinkedIn is a “database on steroids” and Kevin illustrated just how easy it is to use the advanced search features on LinkedIn to mine new opportunities. I actually heard people gasp when he showed us how easy it is to find a primary prospect with a few keystrokes.

At its core social media IS another form of communication, albeit it a very powerful one.  Since people like doing business with people they know, like and trust, how can advisors leverage social networks to build their book of business?   The answer may be more simple than you think- by being their authentic self and continuing to add the very same value they’ve been adding offline…online.

Advisors have had a long history of being social by belonging to groups, associations and clubs. They understand how to connect with others through shared interests and values.  It’s the reason why Investor Type A will work with Advisor Type A, etc, etc.  Over time an advisor’s book of business and the investors/customers they attract begin to resemble who THEY are- quirks and all.  I’ve seen it first hand with Kim, who’s built Tech Girl Financial, a practice focused on supporting women in technology.  Many of her clients are very much like her- strong, independent women, working in a challenging industry, making decisions that help people and advance their industry.   It’s a great fit because they speak the same language.  It’s the secret sauce of differentiation that social can help reveal, and more importantly, amplify.

Social is not about the technology, it’s about the relationships and the experience behind those that use it.   Anyone can build a Facebook page, get a Twitter handle or a LinkedIn profile, however, not everyone will have the business acumen, prospecting skills, and relationship building experience that matters.  There has to be some substance to support the promise.  This gives more seasoned advisors a real advantage- they have the experience!  I’m talking to you Pat McGrath!

So as I reflect on Ignite 2013 and the lessons learned and reinforced, I continue to be optimistic on the increased adoption of social.   We may still be in the early stages of development and adoption in financial services, however given the enthusiasm that followed Kevin’s presentation, I can tell you we are not turning back now.  Onward!

Shaking it Up in Atlanta: Playing with Lawyers

By Victor Gaxiola,   September 19, 2013


Earlier this week I had the privilege of attending and speaking at the Social Shake Up in Atlanta presented by Social Media Today. The two-and-a-half day event brought together industry thought leaders, bloggers, and business pioneers from the Social Media Today community to share what they were doing and the impact it is having on B2B and B2C businesses. I was invited to participate as part of the “Playing With Lawyers: Social Media Governance” panel. Joining me on the panel were Tom Chernaik, CEO/Co-Founder of CMP.LY, and David Davidovic, Founder and President of pathForward LLC. Our panel was moderated by Virginia Miracle, EVP, Professional Services at Spredfast.


Photo by @JaysBryant at

Although we had prepared in advance to share our experiences on social within regulated industries, we knew that the conversation would be driven mostly by the interest and questions of our audience. Fortunately those in attendance represented a mix of industries ranging from financial services and insurance, to health care, lotteries and investor relations, all of which have a vested interest in how to approach social in their regulated space. What was clear was that ALL industries continue to struggle with finding a best practices approach to address the challenges of social in regulated industries that continue to see it as a risk. This rings true whether you are regulated by FINRA, the SEC, FFIEC, the FDA, or the FTC. Regardless of the challenges the business units of these industries face, the push for social continues to be driven mostly by sales and marketing that understand the value a social strategy can provide to increase consumer engagement, communications, and customer service. The question is “how do you approach this challenge given the legal risks and ramifications?” The collective answer? …..Slowly.

As a best practice, we recommended that businesses start the process by focusing first on their digital strategy and identify the primary reasons why they want to have a presence on social networks. To help drive this process and reduce road blocks along the way, we stressed how important it is to work with all stakeholders and collaborate as early as possible to flush out any initial concerns. This includes inviting compliance and legal in the conversation during the early stages of the process to minimize the potential loss of productivity that could surface if the project is halted down road. Organizations, especially in financial services, are hard wired to approach compliance and legal asking “Can we…?” as opposed to a more productive approach asking “How can we…?” The former is a closed ended approach that will most likely provide an answer that is negative, whereas the latter is an invitation for conversation and collaboration.

Social is a process and success in adoption and engagement will not happen overnight. Just because you build it, does not mean they will come. Expectations of what social is, and the risks they could possibly introduce need to be tempered. This includes consulting companies to take a measured approach to social and not attempt to “boil the ocean” as an initial strategy. You don’t need to be on every platform, in multiple languages, on a 24/7 cycle. In the initial stages, we recommend that companies first explore WHY they want to have a presence in the first place and what audience they will serve. This will likely provide the recipe for the appropriate social platform (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) and the type, and frequency of content they will produce.

Once a platform is selected start slowly with a pilot program of hand selected users that will pioneer the roll out of a new strategy. This approach will provide guidance on the process and a template that can be scaled for a larger roll out when the organization is ready. It will also allow an organization to develop their social process for approvals and oversight as well as resource allocations to manage the project.

Although our talk centered on the existing challenges faced with the implementation of a social strategy, due to legal and compliance concerns, what is clear is that action towards a collaborate solution is the only way to make progress and that an approach that encourages companies to crawl before they walk, and walk before they run is the surest path to success.

For more on the panel discussion, you can check out the unique hashtag for the conversation #SSUGovernance and I recommend you read a great recap by Lauren Horwitz on TechTarget entitled “Social Media Strategies: There’s no big bang.“‘

Transaction banking is the ‘new’ sexy #TLTActiance

By Joanna Belbey,   April 25, 2013


This Thursday’s Thought Leader Actiance (#TLTActiance) guest blog is by Elizabeth Lumley, special projects editor at financial services newswire Finextra, based in London. Follow her on Twitter @LizLum

According to research from the Boston Consulting Group, revenues from global transaction banking are expected to grow from $189 billion in 2011 to $509 billion in 2021 – an increase of 170%.

This renewed focus on the transaction bank has brought up several key trends. To highlight these I’m going to look at two trends from Finextra’s Global Banking Transaction Survey.

Most banks are combining cash management, payments, trade finance (and sometimes securities services) into one business unit.

Almost 90% of the banks surveyed in 2012 have created a transaction banking group, combining these business, or plan to in the near future. That number has grown exponentially. In 2010, 57% of those surveyed had merged, or were planning to merge, their trade finance and cash management business. That rose to 77% in 2011.

Now, there are a few issues I have with these statistics. And it’s from a technical, rather than a business strategy standpoint.  

The client-facing sides of the bank are now concerned with this idea of ‘customer-centricity’. Banks need a ‘customer view’ of their services, not a product-view of their services. Why?

So that banks can enable a stronger strategic focus on customer service, channel and product innovation. So that banks can ‘cross-sell’ their services. It is not a giant leap to suggest to a cash management client, that ‘oh by the way…we also offer supply chain.’

However, saying that a bank is now ‘customer-focused’ rather than product-focused, is very different from re-engineering decade’s old, legacy-heavy, enterprise-wide infrastructure that has been aligned along product lines.

Piecing together your old ‘product’ systems with some dodgy middleware, sticky tape and chewing gum, or moving your cash management guys to the same floor of the building as your trade finance gals – does not mean you are now operating in a serene, holistic, IT paradise (complete with angels and cotton candy.)

In 2013, most banks ‘want’ to combine their business under the neatly packaged ‘transaction banking’ umbrella – because of all the reasons cited including ‘better press’. (I mean who will admit, to the media, that their business is struggling to cope with changes in customer behaviour; with ageing systems that were probably built when people thought having a phone in your car was the height of innovation?)

But many banks are still struggling with real issues concerning complexity their IT environments. In fact 57 per cent of respondents, to the survey, said IT and system complexity is a hindrance. Any business within the bank, can offer cool, smart, innovative products – but if the infrastructure supporting them is, for lack of a better word…creaky, then the whole house of cards will fall apart.

Mobile channel development is a growing trend, with 45 per cent of banks ranking this a priority in the coming year, while 63 per cent said expanding self-service channels such as mobile would be part of their strategy over the next three years.

Conservative IT people – and let’s face it most bank IT people aren’t your young guns in hipster jeans and retro glasses (not that I’m saying that’s a bad thing) – tend to deal with innovation in terms of ‘products’. The digital revolution that has been going on around us, in the consumer world, is often seen in banking as a mobile revolution.

The questions that are being asked in innovation and development teams right now are:

  • How do you get payments on the phone
  • How do you engineer a ‘Wallet’ on the phone?
  • How do you allow a corporate treasurer to authorise a payment on the phone?

This is the ‘mobile as a channel’ view of the world – which has led many banks to make the mistake of trying to shove the online banking experience into the mobile. (Or to shove the card onto the phone via NFC)

You should not think of mobile as a channel, but think of it as the channel. Whether you’re a retail customer or a corporate customer – you’re not looking for banking services ‘on a mobile’ you are looking for ‘mobile banking services.’ There’s a difference.

The cell phone, tablet or smart phone is merely the device of today.

According to last year’s Capgemini World Payments Report only two percent of mobile phone users have ever made a payment using their phone. Customers are not crying out for more apps – where they are moving towards is being able to access banking and payments services wherever they are.

It is people who are mobile. If your innovation strategy is bogged down with the device – it will move in the wrong direction.

That revolution in consumer banking is having an immediate impact on what corporate customers are demanding from their banks and how banks plan on focusing their investment in innovation.

Elizabeth Lumley is a global specialist commentator on services, regulations, risk, data and technology in investment, retail, and global transactional banking. She is an internationally recognised reporter, tweeter, blogger and broadcast journalist. Elizabeth Lumley is currently special projects editor at financial services newswire Finextra, based in London, where she is responsible for all the multi-media output.

What’s the Buzz? Tell Me What’s Happening

By kailashambwani,   April 18, 2013

Kailash Ambawni. picThe buzz in the enterprise is Big Data. Pick up any publication covering technology or business these days and you will see articles about the proliferation of Big Data; how it happens and how it will impact our lives. Certainly, there is a ton of data flooding in, offering tremendous opportunity to predict new trends that can drive our business in exciting ways. But there are two important steps in the harnessing of Big Data to achieve its potential. First you have capture and store the data; second you need to analyze the data. Once you have visibility you can ‘listen’ to trends generated by your customers and marketplace.

But, while most companies are listening to what customers are saying, they’re often not listening to what their employees are saying.

The old adage “the CEO is the last to know” no longer has to hold true. Big Data can help you learn about your employees’ experiences as much as the customer experience. If we can leverage Big Data to create an experience for the customer that exceeds their expectations and results in higher satisfaction, can we not use Big Data to achieve the same with our employees?

With Big Data we can change how we engage our employees. We can understand the trending themes, the sentiment, who the key “connectors” and subject matter experts are, and even the high risk areas. We can safely project that this will result in:

  • Higher job satisfaction
  • A more engaged, enthusiastic workforce
  • Longer employee retention
  • Better productivity

Not unlike the customer experience we can create with insights from Big Data, we can create a better employee experience that results in a positive, transparent and more productive work environment. All of which gives us a competitive edge.

Isn’t that really the potential of Big Data for the enterprise?

SEC Clears Social Media for Use: What does it mean?

By Sarah Carter,   April 16, 2013

SEC_Oks_SocialOn April 2nd the SEC issued a press release, which has been widely reported in a number of ways, as to what this actually means for organizations.  In this blog, lets take a look at what it actually means.


Here’s what the SEC actually says “companies can use social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter to announce key information in compliance with Regulation Fair Disclosure (Regulation FD) so long as investors have been alerted about which social media will be used to disseminate such information”.

The exact text is on the SEC website:   We’re pleased to see that the content was tweeted as well.  Interestingly, it was in 2008 that the SEC actually cleared the use of websites for the dissemination of key information.  It feels like its been a long five years to get the same clearance for social media.  But perhaps not.   On August 6th 1991, some 17 years earlier the first website was born, at CERN – the first URL for that website was in case you want to check it out.  So, it appears progress is being made.  Our world is speeding up.


  • It means that, so long as a public company announces in advance, what social outlets they will use, that they are able to disseminate key information through these channels.
  • In general, key information is usually mailed out or put on a wire service like Marketwire or PR Newswire and also onto the company website.


  • Not necessarily, it doesn’t meant that individuals in companies will necessary be all now posting content through their individual network updates.
  • It does mean that firms will need to open up access to social media so that Financial Advisers, Relationship Managers and those assisting clients with investment information can access this information – it really IMO opens the floodgates for firms now saying, that if you have financial professionals who need to keep up to date with key publicly traded companies, then they need to see this information.  If you don’t, then it would be like forbidding a professional to read the newspaper or watch TV.
  • Usually when public companies distribute key information like this, they distribute it through a “corporate property” – in social terms this would be the company Facebook page, or the company Twitter account, or the company page on LinkedIn.
  • Record retention requirements means that companies will have retain records of what they posted.  i.e. LinkedIn company updates.


  • It means that they will require access to social in order to conduct their work effectively.
  • As a result of the SEC’s ruling, anyone that needs to keep an eye on key information from public companies will NEED to have access to social in order to remain competitive.
  • The socially savvy public company will use individuals to push this content out, along with corporate brands. Take Reed Hastings of Netflix for instance – this whole thing started because it was HIS Facebook page, not the company page.


1)      Archiving company updates for public companies will become a must have.  Public companies will need to archive the company updates and any other updates that are related to Regulation FD.

2)      Ensuring that the right person / people approved this content is key.  They will need to prove that it was approved by the relevant individuals/groups in the organization.

3)      Companies may choose to share content to a “Shareholders Group” on LinkedIn, a group on Facebook, or a private feed on Twitter, thus requiring that content is approved and archived, is again key.

4)      Some companies might select individuals to share this key information – so ensuring that the content is again approved and archived is key.  However, the SEC points out, that “The report of investigation explains that although every case must be evaluated on its own facts, disclosure of material, nonpublic information on the personal social media site of an individual corporate officer — without advance notice to investors that the site may be used for this purpose — is unlikely to qualify as an acceptable method of disclosure under the securities laws. Personal social media sites of individuals employed by a public company would not ordinarily be assumed to be channels through which the company would disclose material corporate information.”  So ensure prior notification has been made – and that it is clear, which channels and which accounts will be used to disseminate this information.

5)      Those firms that block social access for the wider team will not be evaluating their policies, in order to provide open access to at least view for instance LinkedIn news and company updates while on corporate machines.

6)   Social networks outside of Facebook and Twitter should be lobbying the SEC – who referenced only Facebook and Twitter – but not LinkedIn as social channels.    LinkedIn is the network that most business professionals feel comfortable with and with whom they connect with business colleagues on much more than Facebook and Twitter.  It’s clear that the SEC needs to understand the company area of LinkedIn, but also the value of the personal network – using the Reed Hasting’s example – if he had used his LinkedIn network update to push this out, it would have had the same effect as he did with Facebook.


1) Review your social policies, both for listening, and for distributing content.  This great move by the SEC has opened the way for “no business reason for social” to be removed.  Ensure that you’re including all the stakeholders into this review.

2) Ensure, if you are a public company, that any content you are sharing on social – goes through the same approvals that content for other mediums does.  Archive it and retain it.

3) Embrace this new communications modality approval by the SEC.  Those who disseminate key information in compliance with Regulation FD, through social channels, will certainly be in the forefront of the press and generate those softer elements of ROI, that we all strive for.  So make sure you take this into consideration when you’re looking at the benefits of social.

Let me wrap up by asking a question.  If you were to choose one social channel to share key information.. what would it be?

Social Media Risk Mitigation? Just Do It!

By actiance,   March 20, 2013

These days the number one risk associated with social media for business is doing nothing at all. The old excuses of not enough people use it for business, and all I ever see on social is pictures of kittens are over. In fact, today 7 out of 10 Financial Advisors using social networks for business; LinkedIn gives us the opportunity to form or join groups of like-minded customers and colleagues for discussions pertinent to our business, Facebook allows us to connect with colleagues on a personal and business level, and Twitter keeps us all connected and informed in real time. Social is here to stay. Recently Actiance Social Media Expert, Victor Gaxiola, stopped by the BrightTALK studios and filmed his thoughts on why you need to embrace social for a competitive edge.

Watch Victor Discuss Social Media Risk

We’d love to hear your thoughts on how social has given you a competitive edge, please leave a comment below.

Belbey Blogs: Disconnected from Customer Service? Better Start Tweeting!

By Joanna Belbey,   March 18, 2013

customer serviceAwhile back, I received a special promotion from the Big Telephone Company (BTC) for blindingly fast internet, telephone and cable. For less than the Big Cable Company (BCC)! Sounds good, I’ll take it.

I called the Sales Department to sign up, but was told, “Sorry Ms. Belbey. That service is not available in your area.” “But I received a letter!”, I exclaimed. Hmmm. Why on earth wasn’t my zip code suppressed in the mailing? Disconnect #1: Personalized direct marketing campaign didn’t match service availability.

Ok fine. I decided to go ahead with phone and internet. I explained that although there was a jack in the bedroom, I wanted my phone and internet in the living room. (Yes, I know that I could use a cordless phone, or wifi, but I want to plug in.) Therefore, I needed a technician to install a jack.

A technician arrived, plugged the router into the jack in the bedroom and told me I was all set to go. I explained again that I needed a jack to be installed in the living room and the technician explained, “I don’t install jacks, call Customer Service”.

So I called Customer Service and set up an appointment. A router arrived by mail, I received a voice mail confirming the appointment and another voice mail congratulating me on my new service. But no technician. That happened three times. Disconnect #2: Lack of communication between departments.

At this point, I gave up, called BTC and told them to forget it. I also asked for some mailing slips and boxes to return their four routers. I shipped them back and thought it was over.

I received bills during this time, but ignored them as I thought I didn’t owe anything as I never accessed the system. I assumed there was a disconnect with Billing too. But, next thing I knew, I received a letter from a collections agency.

Yikes! I called Customer Service again, determined to resolve this once and for all.

Over the course of a 90-minute phone call, I escalated the issue three times until I reached a “manager” who wasn’t reading from a script. She bordered on nasty. She said that she had no record of my multiple interactions and that in order to cancel the service, I would need to pay the bill in full, contact Billing and all three credit agencies. Huh? She assured me that I would receive some credit at some point. In essence, she had me over a barrel. And she knew it. To protect my credit rating, I reluctantly mailed a check. Disconnects #3, #4 and #5: No access to customer records, lack of common sense, lack of respect for a customer with an existing account for 30+ years.

During that 90-minute phone call, I started tweeting very politely at BTC asking for help. Within moments, I received a perky reply (How can we help? We’re here for you!) and was asked to direct message (DM) the issue. After a few DMs, I received a link to file a compliant, and even another upbeat tweet to make sure I was able to submit the form. Within 24 hours, I received a phone call from a lovely women from the “Presidential Escalation Response Team”. It was as though I was talking to two very different companies. She had done her homework. She asked me in her broad New Jersey accent, “Let me see if I got this straight. You were billed for a service you never used, your account’s in collections and you want to cancel the service and get your money back and have no problem with your credit. Did I get that right? “Yup, that’s it”, I said.

“No problem! I’ll fix it”. And she did.

Disconnect #6: Frustrating, time consuming traditional customer service in stark contrast to responsive, smart and friendly customer service via social media.

It was clear that BTC had hired, trained and empowered their social media team to be customer-centric. They were friendly and smart and I enjoyed our interactions. Unlike their traditional customer service which was, er, less enjoyable.

No more traditional customer service for me. I’ll just tweet!

Is your firm disconnected?

Introducing Socialite for iPhone and iPod touch

By actiance,   February 12, 2013

Your smartphone is your right-hand man. It helps you do your banking, shopping, and socializing when you’re on the go.

By the end of 2013, there’ll be 1.4 billion smartphones and 286 million tablets actively in use around the world. (Source: ABI Research, via TechCrunch). With just shy of 7 billion people on the planet, that means at least 1 of every 5 of us has access to a constant stream of information from almost anywhere.

If you’re selling a product or building a brand, that’s also a constant stream of opportunity that can give you a competitive edge. But sometimes regulations, legal departments, or strict information governance policies can stand in your way. You need to post, tweet, and comment in a way that keeps you and your company out of trouble, and you need to do it from anywhere, any time.

That’s why we built the Socialite® Engage mobile app for iPhone® and iPod® touch.

Socialite® is already the best, most complete social networking compliance and engagement solution available. Now we’re making that experience even better with this free app, available today in the Apple App Store.* It’s a fast, intuitive, and convenient way to keep in touch with your Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter connections.

It gives you mobile access to great features like:

 Easy Content Publication

  • Post to multiple networks right away or schedule posts for later, all from one place.
  • Share pre-approved content from your organization’s library.
  • Ensure the authenticity of your voice while remaining compliant.

Powerful Engagement

  • View and interact with your consolidated newsfeed.
  • Manage and follow key connections and their life events.
  • Receive notifications of Comments, Likes, Retweets, and more.

So if you depend on your mobile devices to get things done, check out Socialite and the Socialite Engage mobile app.

It’s the best right-hand man your right-hand man will ever have.

*Requires a Socialite account provided by your organization. Your organization must be provisioned by Actiance to use the mobile app. For assistance with your login, contact your IT administrator or support help desk.

When the social party grows up, what if no one attends?

By Joanna Belbey,   February 6, 2013

Today’s post is a collaboration between Richie Etwaru, Director, UBS and Joanna Belbey, Social Media and Compliance Specialist, Actiance

Our last blog, “Before You Go Social, Check with Uncle Sam” covered the regulatory compliance, corporate governance, and legal requirements organizations must address before deploying social collaboration, or “internal social media.” In short, we suggested firms needed to develop policies and deploy or procure intelligent software to automate the capture, archive, retain, and supervise business communications across the enterprise.

We received material feedback. Readers reminded us that we’ve all been having the “compliance and technology conversation” around social media for some time. We aim to please so asked what’s next;  we were told adoption is the biggest barrier to success. How do you make the changes to the corporate DNA to allow collaboration to flourish? In other words, how do you get adoption?

Apparently there is a party happening on grown up social networks but no one is attending.

Solving for Adoption

At the core of the thought leadership, we must look at training, sponsorship and design as three individual agendas solving for adoption. The diagram below shows three audiences for each agenda in a 3X3 matrix. The 3X3 matrix can serve as a maturity model as an organization progresses from top right of the matrix to bottom left.


Training, no one flyer fits all

There is no “one size fits all” training for employees to learn how to be “social” within the enterprise. At the one end of the audience spectrum, are employees who are adept at using social media in their personal lives. These are usually (but not always) entry-level employees. They may freely share personal experiences and thoughts with hundreds (thousands?) of their friends on Facebook or followers on Twitter. This set of employees may need to learn how to be “professionally social” within a corporate environment. There is unlearning, think first, and when in doubt resist, training needed.

In the middle of the audience spectrum training is need to inform the value of social beyond connecting people to people and content, sharing more, and the power of inviting others. For more on value beyond connecting people to people and content see “Solving for building backlash of Enterprise Social Networks” posted by Richie.

At the other end of the audience spectrum are employees who may use social media only occasionally or not at all. These are sometimes (not always) senior management. They may require a bit of handholding, and learning about specific benefits of why they should invest the time to learn something new. They also may be concerned about privacy. There is training needed to trust the platforms, learning the value of connecting to people, and benefiting by searching for and finding content in an entirely new way. This audience will not simply come to the party because they received a flyer, there is personal touch needed.

Sponsorship, they must come from everywhere

Successful deployment of social media (either internally or externally) requires commitment from senior management. However senior managers are unlikely demonstrators of sponsorship for social. Demonstrating sponsorship for social means using it, and many (not all) senior managers lack the time, commitment, and authenticity (don’t take it to heart, being authentic on social is an art, even if you are an inherently authentic person) to truly be social.

Sponsors of social medial must come from all tranches of the organization. The trusted employees, and employees that are opinion leaders can demonstrate sponsorship driving adoption. The trusted must create content, celebrate others, and invite opinion leaders (many times openly). Opinion leaders must share content of others, invite the unlikely senior managers (yes, sometimes openly as well), and advocate for the value of media other than text (such as videos) by using said new media. Finally, senior managers who are seen as unlikely adopters by the masses must be authentic. The unlikely audience should upload photos (authentic photos, not the boring corporate headshots), celebrate the opinion leaders, and share information created by the trusted.

This type of sponsorship and authentic adoption up and down the corporate ladder enables organizations to influence with sponsorship. After all, well attended parties are sponsored.

Design, customize the user experience

Inarguably, social can be separated into the believers, the voyeurs and the nay-sayers. The believers get it, and the current design of social works for them. Empower your believes, celebrate them, and hope that you can challenge them.

The voyeurs are the folks that come to the social platform, look around and leave (people that peek into restaurants or lounges and then keep going). Why do they do this? Many times it is because they “see no value when first logging into a social platform”. For us believes we ask, “really no value?” The fact is voyeurs do not see value when logging in initially, this is because they are not a part of any group, haven’t liked anything, haven’t created any content or commented or shared. Of course they see not value, the initial social experience is empty! Organizations must design social platforms to demonstrate value to voyeurs. We know who said voyeurs are, who they work for and who works for them, their peers constitute their implied social graph. We know what groups their “social graph” are in, what documents and topics their social graphs are interested in, and what questions their social graph have asked and answered. The design of the social platform should suggest a curated environment for the voyeurs on first login based on the activity and preferences of the implied social graph. When a voyeur logs in, if he/she accepts all curated suggestions, he/she will “LEAP” onto the social platform and see immediate value. This is an example of what we mean by enabling adoption with design.


This conversation can be detailed into a longer discussion, but at the heart of it, adoption is not unsolvable. There is a party happening on the grown up social networks and if no one is coming to the party we have to think like nightclub owners; guide with training, influence with sponsorship and enable a good experience with design.

Living Vicariously Through Hash Tags

By Victor Gaxiola,   January 31, 2013

Today’s post comes from Victor Gaxiola, Social Media Subject Matter Expert at Actiance.

hashtagThis week representatives from Team Actiance have descended on Orlando, Florida to participate in Lotusphere- IBM Connect 2013, including Kailash Ambwani, Sarah Carter, and Cinthia Shields. Although I am not at the conference myself, I have had the privilege of experiencing it vicariously through them and their activities through their tweets and the IBM connect hash tag #IBMConnect. By monitoring the collective tweets of participants, I’ve been able to experience the sessions, parties, speakers and conversations that have been taking place.  (Although, enjoying a drink via Twitter is not the same experience).

This certainly isn’t the first time that I’ve used hash tags to experience events from afar. For the past three years I’ve lived vicariously through the participants tweeting from the South by Southwest conference in Austin. This year I finally get to participate in person and will be using hash tag #SXSW to share my observations and experience of the events surrounding the conference.  Since I have not been able to attend SXSW in person before, I feel a certain responsibility in sharing with those outside of the event who will be living the event vicariously through me and others-  much like I have in years past.


For speakers and attendees the use of a conference hash tag serves additional purposes. For one they allow them to communicate their own thoughts and feelings of the conference in real time, and monitor how people are reacting and experiencing the event. Speakers and organizers also have the added benefit of having scribes in the audience that are eager to amplify the conversations and messages that are being shared by conference attendees to a much larger and wider audience that is monitoring the event online. As a result, speakers that are presenting on specific subject matter to room of attendees can easily multiply the number of listeners and participants by the viral sharing of information to every connection or follower that a person has in the audience through twitter. As a speaker I am never dissuaded or insulted when I see folks Tweeting away the information I am sharing. If the idea is to share information and ideas, then getting the message beyond the walls of the event only increases the number of people who receive the message. It may also serve the purpose of increasing my own fan base and opportunities for new connections. 100 people in the room tweeting to 100 followers adds up quickly, do the math.

Twitter Walls

To encourage participation, conference organizers are aware of the importance of displaying and promoting the hash tag of the event to attendees as it is happening. At the Janney Montgomery Scott Elite FA Conference in Philadelphia earlier this month, the conference experimented with a Twitter wall in their Genius Lounge that was displaying tweets using the #Elite13 hash tag.  Having the hash tag and accompanying tweets scroll in plain view of conference participants provided an additional incentive to participate- and likely drove social behavior. I think everyone likes to see their name in lights- even on a Twitter wall at a conference.   People would actually stand in front of the wall and tweet, waiting for it to display on the screen in front of them.

#Elite13 Wall

#Elite13 Wall

Trending Topics

To find out what the most current and trending topics are in the country or specific geographic region you can go directly to twitter and look at trending topics to see what conversations are currently taking place. In addition there are a number of different tools online that will provide you a glimpse of the most popular hash tags that are available. Trendsmap allows you to see local trending hashtags on a map of the country that allows you to zoom in on specific regions and cities. It’s fun to look at too.  Another site which is fun is Twubs that serves as a directory of popular hashtags. Participants can plug in multiple hash tags and participate in the conversations. Finally, my favorite hash tag tool is TweetChat. By logging into TweetChat using my Twitter credentials, I can participate in any conversation by adding the hash tag and then following along. The bonus, is that any tweet, or re-tweet from the site will automatically add the hash tag to the post.

Two Screens

Additional validation for the power of hash tags has been validated by their use by networks to promote televisions shows and sporting events.   These days a hash tag can easily be found as a program begins or is mentioned as part of the broadcast.  Network programmers and marketers know that with the proliferation of smart phones and tablets, the idea of entertainment being digested via two screens is becoming more prevalent.   I myself have begun to experience this more and more and the act of watching television has become less passive and more active as I participate in the conversations surrounding the unfolding events on TV.   This was especially true with sporting events, and we in the Bay Area have been lucky with the performance of our San Francisco Giants, and now the Superbowl bound 49ers.  I anticipate that this year’s Super Bowl in New Orleans will set a new record of online participation via tweets around the events of the game.

So although I’m not participating at the IBM Connect 2013 in person this year, Team Actiance is on the scene using hashtag #IBMConnect and sharing with us the people they are meeting, the events they are attending, and more importantly the things they are learning that help us all.