Today’s post comes from Victor Gaxiola, Social Media Subject Matter Expert at Actiance
I recently celebrated my one-year anniversary as part of Team Actiance and was reflecting on how much change I have seen in the approach financial services organizations are taking with regard to social media. Whereas before most companies approached social media as an obstacle to be tacked, today they are more inclined to see it as an opportunity to adopt.
This shift was validated for me this past month at our recent Unleash Summit in New York City. On Friday, we held a separate breakout we called the “Social Media Un-Conference” that was facilitated by our Social Business Team. The purpose of the un-conference was to allow our participants to drive the agenda and the topics we would discuss as a group. During the session I noticed that the conversations centered less and less on WHY organizations should be part of social media and focused more on HOW they could be better. There was a curiosity to exlore best practices, and who is doing it right in the financial services space. What stories are being told, who’s having success, and what’s next? This isn’t new news and I’ve written about this before, however the reality is that more and more stakeholders have bought in and are understanding the the need to embrace a social strategy.
Those of us with experience know that social does so much more than provide an additional channel for your branding message. Used right, social helps organizations provide better customer service, bridge the advisor and client relationship, and position professionals to be more competitive in the marketplace. I see this shift as encouraging, and working with a leading provider of compliant social media solutions, I look forward to working with more firms as they seek a partner to help them with the creation and deployment of their strategy.
Undoubtedly many questions still remain as advisors explore how a digital strategy will make a difference in the development of business that will lead to an increased bottom line. Some of the questions we heard at our summit include:
What are the best practices for social engagement?
How can you create and manage content for different audiences?
What are some of the case studies of success that illustrate the true ROI of a social strategy?
How can you leverage social media to find high net worth individuals?
Over time we will address questions like these on our blog and will likely find them within the collective intelligence of those organizations that are already leveraging social media. Remember, within financial services social media is VERY new and there will be more questions than answers. This is to be expected.
In reality, social media in general is still a very new field. LinkedIn just celebrated it’s 10th birthday so that makes it a pre-teen or tween. Facebook and Twitter are not too far behind. Corporate marketing and sales departments in the retail and entertainment sectors have had the most success thus far in building a loyal following among social media users. The collective body of knowledge on what works, and what doesn’t is built on experiences shared in webinars, ebooks and by industry speakers. I participate regularly in these events to learn what is happening in social media in general and then apply what I’ve learned to this unique financial social media eco-system. As much as I stay in touch and learn about the advances in existing platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, new platforms like Instagram, FourSquare and Vine continue to challenge the status quo. We are all learning as move forward….together.
That being said, the growth of financial social media and the attention it generates has brought new risks. I am not talking about the risk one would normally consider from a compliance or regulatory perspective because that’s well documented and understood. The additional risk that it poses is that newness of social media in financial services is attracting a wave of social media “gurus” and “‘experts” that are looking to gain your attention and business to show you the way. Buyer Beware! Many of these self proclaimed “experts” do not have a real understanding or appreciation for the challenge of working withing the framework of our regulated financial services world, and as such are likely to distract you more than help you.
One of the benefits of working with Actiance is that our social team was created by the careful selection of individuals with a deep understanding of the challenges of the industry. As many of you may know, I used to work as a financial consultant and in my six years working in the field learned what it means to prospect and work with clients in a challenging and often shifting financial market. This experience has helped me provide better guidance on how to approach social media and leverage it to improve customers service and the bottom line.
Some of you may also know my colleague Joanna Belbey who worked with FINRA and is our resident expert on all things dealing with compliance and regulations. I like to think of Joanna and I as the yin-yang of the client experience. Whereas she is focused on risk mitigation, I am focused on opportunity. We work well together, and as a result can address most client concerns.
Earlier this year we welcomed Greg Lowe to our team who has made an immediate impact by providing a high level review of our processes and streamlining our approach to the Actiance pilot program. His background in the collaboration space has helped provide the structure necessary to manage the opportunity with the delivery. He’s a straight shooter and the backbone of our team, keeping us focused and grounded. Not an easy task.
Finally, many of you know the fearless leader of our social team Sarah Carter, who is an encylopedia of knowledge and understands this business inside and out. Sarah fully understands how to balance the needs to address technical concerns as well as those from various lines of business. Her passion for social media is only second to bacon and a strong breeze when she sails the San Francisco Bay.
Collectively our team is aware of the regulatory, business, and back-office challenges that any organizational faces with the adoption of social strategy. It is one of the reasons why we are heavily involved in the initial discussions with multiple stakeholders to understand the business needs and requirements of an organization as it considers and devlops its social media strategy.
Implementation of the solution requires an understanding of this environment and the challenges you are likely to face. Given our experience of working with multiple clients we understand the tools necessary for effective training, best practices for increased adoption, and how to work with multiple stakeholders across different lines of business in the rollout and adoption of a social plan.
If you look through my resume you will discover that I have always worked for large organizations where the management structure defined processes. Often there were multiple layers or stakeholders to reach a decision, and that required time to take action. Actiance has been the smallest company I’ve worked for, and I relish the opportunity to work with our team to react to customer needs and enhancements much quicker than a larger organization would. At Actiance we’ve been working to provide solutions and processes to assist regulated industries for over a decade and the creation of a social solution was the natural evolution of our existing platform. The strength of our collaboration and teamwork has fostered an environment that operates like a startup, however enjoys the legacy and experience that makes us the best in this space.
So as I celebrate one year with Team Actiance, I just thought I’d share why I think we are special. I had some reservations posting something that would come across as overly commercial and self serving, but it’s what I am most proud of when I share what I do and who I work for at conferences or with new prospects. I think people want to know what makes you special. At Actiance- it’s the people, it’s the experience, and it’s the breadth of knowledge and understanding of what it means to work in this challenging and constantly changing industry.
So if you are exploring a social strategy and are serious about making a decision to move forward, I invite you to consider us- Team Actiance. We are ready to take you to the next level of social adoption. Are you?