By D. Bruce Johnston, President, DBJ Associates
Last week I sat on a social media panel at the “Innovation and Growth In A Post Economic Crisis Era” Conference sponsored by Spectrem Group and Financial Advisor Magazine. Other panelists were Daniel Bernstein, JD Director of Professional Services, Market Counsel and Dr. Christopher W. Young Jr, Ph.D, Global Director – Strategy and Solutions Wealth Management for Dow Jones.
Dan did an excellent job discussing FINRA Regulatory Notice 10-06, , FINRA’s Guidance on Blogs and Social Networking Web Sites. (View Full Notice). He pointed out, Regulatory Rule 10-06 makes it clear that any online communication, this includes social networks such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, are viewed by FINRA as the same as an in-person meeting or written communication to a client.
In the world prior to social networks, this information needed to be filed, reviewed and approved by a FINRA representative prior to its use. Now, should an advisor choose to utilize one of the many financial services social media tools this information carries with it the additional requirement of being archived, supervised and made discoverable.
What’s apparent, financial service social media practioners we will have to get comfortable wrapping familiar terms around new concepts. For instance, when you think of public appearances think beyond client seminars and client appreciation events and include Tweets, discussions on Facebook and the back and forth banter that occurs on the LinkedIn Q&A section.
Public appearances, sales literature, correspondence and advertisements still maintain their prominence but look for social networking content to be grouped into static, interactive and action classifications for ease of treating this content.
Chris informed the audience that social media growth has taken off quicker than any other media or technology innovation – surpassing the Internet adoption rates, computer rates and cell phone. We’ve all heard the phenomenal growth story of social media and the staggering follower numbers. The Wall Street Journal takes real notice when they see 400 million Facebook followers and only 2.2 million WSJ subscribers – a consistently diminishing number.
In his view social media applications will be the tool which provides continuous and real time communication between advisor and clients. While social media has provided the individual with the voice to be heard, that voice could be that of the advisor, as individual service provider. Any tool that allows advisors understand their clients likes and dislikes, coupled with aggregated feedback from their entire customer base can and will substantially improve service levels thus enhancing client loyalty and increased AUM, according to Chris.
As a social media practioner I was asked to discuss the results of a few of our case studies at DBJ Associates and Advisolocity. After comparing the cost of these campaigns against their positive results, I believe now more than ever that social media will be an extremely cost efficient, effective and easily measured way for advisors and distributors to reach a very large audience.
The biggest hurdle to higher adoption rates of financial services social media marketing may lie in finding an archiving solution. This was the number one question wanted answered by conference participants. At conference time there may have been 4-5 solution providers all providing some degree of confidence and comfort to compliance officers dealing with the issue.
For those of you following this issue you may have noticed earlier this week that Smarsh, the managed service leader in secure and reliable email archiving and compliance solutions, today announced a partnership with Socialware, a leader in helping companies manage, embrace and leverage public social networks. The partnership brings together the companies’ innovative technologies to offer a unique solution for messaging and social media governance and compliance. The 360-degree offering will integrate Socialware’s policy enforcement, capture, moderation and analytics capabilities for third-party networking sites including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, with the sophisticated message archiving and compliance platform from Smarsh.
We have had several conference calls with Smarsh executives to learn more about this new archiving capability and as I learn more I will keep you all posted.