Organization is one of the major keys to a successful and sustainable social media strategy.
This year, make a resolution to create an editorial calendar—it’s a great way to bring some calm to the chaos.
One of the greatest social media challenges is keeping pace. It’s important to create, curate, and publish fresh content frequently, maintain a consistent presence on social media channels, and stay on top of the ever-changing trends. Being relevant, informative, and there are huge parts of what define you as an expert and a thought leader in this industry; that’s largely how you’ll build a valuable audience. It can feel like a lot to juggle, but an editorial calendar is an excellent tool that can help you keep everything running like a well-oiled machine. Here are some tips for creating your own editorial calendar:
1. Keep it simple.
You don’t need a new app or web-based system to create or maintain an editorial calendar. Send messages to yourself; keep a to-do list, or voice-record brainstorming ideas as they come to you using tools you already have, such as a smartphone or tablet.
Or, you can add an editorial calendar to your WordPress dashboard, and then write and schedule weeks or even months of content to post whenever you choose (once your blog posts are finalized, you can set a schedule, and they’ll even auto-publish). Some of the most reliable WordPress calendar plugins are Editorial Calendar by Stresslimit, Edit Flow, and Future Posts Calendar by AaHa Creative. If you aren’t comfortable with website tinkering, or if you aren’t a WordPress convert, Microsoft Excel and Google Calendar are great alternatives.
The purpose of an editorial calendar is to corral all those fantastic ideas that unexpectedly pop into your head and gather them in one central location. This alleviates you of the stress of remembering what that great idea was you had two weeks ago while pumping gas.
2. Create Monthly Themes
Start now and create an overarching theme for each month. This will help create a focus for your brainstorming and your blog ideas will flow more freely. Identifying a theme also allows you to get ahead of the content game and identify other industry-leaders you may wish to invite to guest blog. A monthly theme creates a sense of organization, which followers and writers always appreciate.
The organization lent by monthly themes is also, overall, an attractive quality to your followers. Even the most left-brained individual cannot thrive in utter chaos, so your readers will appreciate the organization of your content. Additionally, it conveys that your company is a brand with focus and direction. Those are admirable qualities we all expect to find in a trusted industry leader.
3. Have a Weekly Routine
Establish a weekly routine to dedicate time to your editorial calendar. These are the articles your followers will look forward to every week. A schedule ensures you fulfill the expectations of your followers.
Perhaps you have a weekly feature titled Monday Money that is a recap of the previous week’s investment-related events. Whatever you do create, be consistent with it and make it your own. (And, when you post it on social media, make sure you’re using a custom hashtag!) When an audience specifically seeks you as their source for information and advice, you’ll know your editorial strategy is working.
As the year winds down, you may find yourself with some downtime. Why not grab a mulled cider, eggnog, or a candy cane with this list of tips, and start working on your own editorial calendar for the quickly approaching 2014?
Recently, while dining out with friends, our food server delivered the wrong order to our table. The dish also happened to be topped with an ingredient of which one friend is seriously allergic. While thanking our server for the prompt delivery I calmly explained the situation. She was horrified and apologetic. We threw in some humor to provide levity and five minutes later the food we originally ordered made its arrival. When we received our bill, two meals had been taken off our total. It spoke to the effectiveness of courteous, respectful interaction. Being kind and engaging often just works.
This principle extends to all modes and areas of interaction. Minding your manners in the digital space is critical, but that’s often underestimated, unconsidered, or just plain forgotten.
Without The Tone, What is the Message? Internet communications— on social networks and in email correspondence—can easily be misconstrued. Without the benefit of observing social cues such as voice inflection, tone, and pitch, as well as facial expressions, it can be difficult to judge the actual tenor of a situation. Perhaps you’ve been there; maybe you’ve received an email and wondered about the sender’s true intent. Were they being sarcastic or were they expecting a serious reply? Be sure to review your own communications before pressing that send or publish button, (particularly given the regulatory hurdles financial advisors face) to ensure you are sending the right message. If your message is light-hearted, keep your jokes squarely in neutral territory; all other dialogue should be straightforward and sincere to eliminate any chance of confusion or misinterpretation.
Venue Change, Rules Remain: Connecting through a smartphone or laptop must be regarded as the Digital Age equivalent of a face-to-face advisor-client meeting. The existence of Twitter and LinkedIn don’t exempt us from social graces. Though many of our interactions now happen on these social media platforms instead of boardrooms or restaurants, we are still able to extend that metaphorical hand. Greet people, introduce yourself, be as respectful as if you were having coffee, and engage, engage, engage. This takes a little practice, but in short time, you can become quite skilled at relationship-building with a vast audience of people located all over the world.
Social networking platforms aren’t faceless communities; these are real conversations with real people. It is as important as ever to remember your ‘please and thank you’ when making connections and looking for business opportunities. Don’t hesitate to express gratitude for recommendations or introductions to potential new clients. Everyone appreciates appreciation.
Don’t Go Directly to No: With a presence on several social networks, I often receive connection requests from people with names I don’t recognize. Frequently, I don’t know the person at all, or maybe I met them once in passing, or perhaps they are associated with a mutual friend. I can choose to decline or ignore the request, but networking isn’t just about connecting with people I already know. Take a close look at those requests; initial haste runs the risk of overlooking a valuable connection. I usually respond to hazy requests with a note, asking the person for more information on why we’d make a good connection.
Never lose sight of the fact that your online personality and behavior are major factors people use to form first impressions about you and your business, similar to the way your physical presence and demeanor are influential. Be mindful and intentional, never forgetting that Virtual You is acting in alignment with behaviors Face-to-Face You embraces every day.
We’ve all heard the stories of disgruntled employees who are pink-slipped after participating in some social media activity deemed unacceptable by their powers that be. Are the principles and standards that govern your employees’ use of Facebook clear and accessible, or are they undefined or too vague?
There’s no room for ambiguity here—particularly given all of the compliance-related issues you must address. In the same way you and your clients draft investment policy statements to define and confirm your clients’ financial objectives, a social media policy ensures your firm’s management and staff are on the same page about social media activity related to business. The policy eliminates any confusion, and can help protect the best interests and image of the firm and employees, by establishing and educating everyone about acceptable vs. unacceptable social media activity. Here are a few tips:
- Understand the Playing Field. Any advisory firm should be aware of the compliance-related issues associated with social media participation. This information needs to be clearly outlined in your social media policy.
- Common Sense=Common Use. Despite disclosures and disclaimers, the public may still form opinions about your firm based on employee statements or actions. Anyone on the payroll who is allowed to speak about the company must write knowledgeably, accurately, and display top-notch professionalism. There’s no place for argumentative, offensive, or abusive behaviors or communications.
- The Internet Never Forgets. Thanks to search engines, screen grabs, cached files, archiving, and way back machines, every shred of content put forth on the internet lives forevermore. Coach employees to understand they shouldn’t publish any statement, photo, or comment they’ll be embarrassed to see five, 10 or 20 years from now.
- Confidentiality. Company information that’s not available to the public cannot ever be shared or discussed. This includes information regarding personnel. A confidentiality breach can expose your firm to liability.
- Privacy is an Illusion. The opposite concept to confidentiality is that privacy is a myth where internet activity is concerned. Behave as if any update, direct message, or communication will be posted on the front page of the New York Times. If it’s not suitable for the newsstand, don’t hit the publish button.
- Inform Management. Any employee who intends to create personal, non-company content (such as a blog) and reference their company or its current or potential products, employees, partners, customers, or industry competitors must inform management prior to posting, to ensure compliance with state and federal regulations. (The term “getting dooced” didn’t materialize out of thin air, after all.”)
- It Never Hurts to Ask; It Sometimes Hurts When You Don’t. Err on the side of caution. If an employee is ever doubtful of the appropriateness of a potential comment or post, ask them to consult with human resources prior to publishing.
These guidelines will get you started on the road to realizing the importance of putting a social media policy in place. However, you must consult with a legal professional to assist in the development of your official social media protocol.
There’s peace in knowing your social media outreach will be protected by a staff that has full understanding of the boundaries you’ve built around social media use.
Gossip: In high school, it was the worst. I hated being talked about in passed notes and hushed whispers. It felt so personal, and I never knew quite what was being said about me. How times have changed.
Today, gossip is a financial advisor’s best friend. We likely spend many hours talking about our firm and our solutions as part of our efforts to grow an audience that will listen to all we have to say. Some of these brand-building efforts can be taken online—where we can listen in on the results.
We all want to know what people think, don’t we? If I was aware in ninth-grade that Gavin Mackenzie* had a crush on me, I would have most certainly chosen him as my biology lab partner. Alas, my school was too big and that bit of gossip didn’t reach my ears until it was too late. In our businesses, of course we want to be as attentive and accommodating as possible to the people that use our services. We don’t want any of our clients to pair up with a different lab partner because we don’t offer what they like, want, or need.
Many financial advisors view social media as a one-way communication vehicle—a broadcast and marketing medium meant to sell services, share news, and post opinions and ideas. They miss out on the opportunities to research consumer trends, investigate competitors, and actively engage with clients and prospects through listening. Paying attention to the two-way communication in the social media space provides valuable information and feedback; it’s worth dedicating time to this effort lest we end up sitting alone in biology class.
Listening to your clients is easier than you think. What ten keywords do you want to track? Start with names: yours, your firm name, people in charge, and services or products you offer. Get specific. The first step in setting up listening channels is establishing an email address specifically used for email alerts. You won’t have to check a million websites and get distracted on Facebook; you can just order everything to your inbox and go from there. Don’t just make one email address; make two. The first is dedicated to your brand, while the second email address is dedicated to tracking the web conversations about your biggest competition. (Don’t you want to know who else Gavin Mackenzie has a crush on?)
The first alert you want to set up is the tried and true Google Alert [www.google.com/alerts]. Which are the most highly trafficked websites where you’d be likely to appear? Yelp, Twitter, Youtube, Pinterest, LinkedIn? Most mainstream networks offer a quick URL designated to set up email alerts.
RSS [rich site summary] feeds are another helpful tool. You can set up RSS feeds for your favorite websites, news sites and the blogs you read for inspiration (like this one!). A wonderful resource that teaches the basics of establishing RSS feeds is http://www.webmonkey.com/2010/02/rss_for_beginnners/.
Twitter is an obvious choice for listening, as well. Although there are tons of great Twitter applications that can be customized to your specific needs—when just starting out it’s easiest to use the traditional Twitter search bar. Type your brand name and your relevant keywords, and examine the results. Make sure you select to view “all” tweets and not just the top ones.
Follow your clients and any of the firms you do business with, too. Watch their feeds for clues about what they like, what they dislike, and any personal preferences they may express. You’ll learn other sites they visit online, topics that may interest them, possibly restaurants they visit and more.
For financial advisors serving the consumer market, Facebook provides a huge opportunity to get to know your clients on a very personal level. If you’re able to connect with them, you can learn a significant amount about their families, pets, restaurants they enjoy and their most favorite topic of conversation—themselves! Attend to what you learn by listening, and bring those facts and findings into your relationship. Show your clients you care about them on a level beyond business, and you can build brand loyalty and cement your relationship beyond your quarterly investment meetings.
Gossip has a new look. It’s not the mean-spirited, ambiguous chatter of yesteryear. Today’s talk is specific conversation we are privy to courtesy of resourceful tools that allow us access to the discussion. Instead of creating rifts, we’re using this dialogue to improve our craft and better serve our clients. It’s talk worth listening to.
*Names have been changed to protect the innocent.
Once you’ve created and curated content that best supports your brand strategy, no doubt you’ll bring it to the digital space. Hashtags, those pound signs (#) we often see on social media networks, are couplings that group our digital matter with other related, online content.
And, that is what hashtags do. They organize content and increase the visibility of your posts. For example, as media outlets stream online content related to the recent government shutdown to various social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, they’ve largely agreed to tack the hashtag #shutdown to related social network posts. This collective tagging effort neatly organizes posts for interested parties who are following this event. Utilizing a #keyword search, users will receive a relevant search return of topic-specific posts. Also, hashtags keep track of trending topics—when people tag, we have insight into where the people’s interests lie. The hashtag also acts as an exclamation point to this social media post—a specific and striking hashtag is eye-catching and less likely to get lost amid your customers’ social media feeds.
Hashtags are also used at a variety of organized events. By tracking a hashtag associated with the event, attendees can interact with one another even while seated in a breakout session.
Where and How Hashtags Should Be Used
Used first on Twitter in 2007, hashtag capabilities exist today on most mainstream channels of social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram. It is important to use hashtags sparingly and strategically, thus giving you the most bang for your buck.
- Don’t tag article words such as #a or #an. People aren’t searching for these words.
- Be judicious. One or two tags per tweet or status update is sufficient. Tag the relevant keywords that people will be searching; be strategic to yield the greatest impact.
- Tag complete ideas. Separately hashtagging terms such as #Financial #Solutions won’t categorize your content successfully. (Do you know how many “solution” bits of content exist on the internet?) Tagging #financialsolutions greatly increases the chance of reaching your right audience.
- A hashtag may be placed anywhere within a sentence; it can be postscript (Great game! Another victory! #Dodgers) or incorporated within the text. (Great game. Another #Dodgers victory!) Make sure not to use any punctuation or spaces in your hashtag.
- Realize that you can also use hashtags as listening devices. Consider a regular basis for terms such as #401k, #finances, #money, etc. (Twilert is a great resource for following a variety of hashtags on a regular basis.) There are many words that individuals use when describing their financial life. Listening in on those conversations via Twitter may provide some ideas for your client outreach, or content creation.
If you’re referring to a specific event or article, consider searching Twitter; most likely, there is a hashtag assigned and you’ll want to ensure you use the established version. Creating your own obscure hashtag in relationship to a high-profile topic probably won’t benefit your social media visibility.
Hashtags are also a valuable resource in supporting your brand. Creating a unique-to-you custom hashtag groups your content, but, if done creatively and mindfully, also adds an extra punch of brand voice to your online presence. Before committing, research the tag you have in mind to confirm that it hasn’t been adopted by another party; you don’t want to align yourself with some unusual or unfortunate group.
Hashtags Gone Wild
To fully understand the reach of hashtags, it’s important to realize that outside the scope of financial marketing and organizational applications, hashtags are also used in social media to gather memes, images, content, and engagement surrounding many other genres such as pop culture and humor (#failedchildrensbooktitles, anyone?).
Hashtags: They may seem irrelevant—another thing to do—but actually they’re quite important. Hashtags are the complement to your well-crafted social media strategy; they come in the form of a user-friendly tool that steers your digital presence onto the online streams of your key targets. Visibility to the right audience=#win.
And yesterday came the news that LPL Financial, the largest independent broker-dealer in the United States, will allow its financial advisors to use LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
As I wrote in October, LPL advisors have been part of the AdvisorTweets database since Day 1. Last fall, I wondered whether the inclusion of “Securities offered through LPL Financial Member FINRA/SIPC” in several accounts’ Twitter bios reflected the start of an LPL sanction.
It’s welcome news to hear that more LPL advisors are on their way. Expect more announcements from broker-dealers, wirehouses and investment companies.
Last week, The 140 Characters Conference: New York City featured a panel discussion called “How I Did It: Financial Services Social Media Champions Tell Their Stories.” The scope of the presentation by representatives from Citi, Deutsche Bank, the Financial Women’s Association and BGK Group was broader than financial advisors’ adoption of social media but well worth your time.
At the 12:45 mark, listen to Deutsche Bank Managing Director John Stepper as he describes his firm’s internal reaction to the May news that Morgan Stanley would be empowering its broker force of almost 18,000 with access to social media.
That scene, those questions streaming in from multiple sources, is being played out at many firms. LPL’s greenlight on the heels of Morgan Stanley on the heels of earlier decisions by Commonwealth, Cambridge and Raymond James is accelerating others’ consideration of social media and ultimate adoption. This revolution is underway.
P.S. There’s news coming about the future of AdvisorTweets.com. I should be able to update you in a few days.
Morgan Stanley made news yesterday when Reuters revealed the contents of an internal memo from Andy Saperstein, Morgan Stanley’s head of United States wealth management. Morgan Stanley will be “the first major wealth management firm” “to use key social networking sites to market themselves and share the firm’s intellectual content, while complying with regulatory requirements,” according to the memo to employees.
This news comes a year after Saperstein went on record as supporting social media at an Investment Company Institute conference last May.
What follows are the facts of the announcement, my reaction and links to other perspectives.
Who: The full brokerage force of 17,800 advisors
Timing: 600 advisers will start before late June, the rest to follow within six months
What: Accessing LinkedIn and “partial use” of Twitter
How: Socialware will provide social media archiving support, no details on added internal Compliance and other resources
Why: From Saperstein’s memo: “Over the last few years, the emergence of social media has changed the way in which people communicate with each other, and companies interact with clients. MSSB is embracing how social media is changing communication and is at the forefront of the industry in how we are incorporating it into our business strategy.”
Joining A Conversation That’s Underway
Morgan Stanley can score this as a short-term win—brokerage firms that follow won’t get as much media attention, for example, and the decision no doubt appeases those who have been agitating for “social media” from within the firm.
I empathize with the task that Morgan Stanley takes on here. As I repeatedly tell my Rock The Boat Marketing asset management consulting clients, social media isn’t a perfect fit for a big firm, let alone a big regulated firm. Efforts to extrapolate what has succeeded for individuals and small businesses often fall dull, flat and ineffective. A shocking amount of time and people resource investment often barely moves the needle where the needle needs to be moved—in authenticity and real engagement.
As much as I cheer the interest and commitment suggested by this announcement, I share others’ reservations about the limits that are being imposed and the potential value of the advisors’ participation to the social communities about to be joined. There is a “conversation” already underway and the highest level question to be asked is what value will Morgan Stanley advisors add to that conversation.
Should AdvisorTweets brace for redundant home-office-scripted tweets from thousands of advisors? We can be certain that the tweets will represent Morgan Stanley but what will these tweets really tell us about what advisors are thinking? I think of yesterday’s impromptu outpouring from advisors moved to tweet about the death of CNBC’s Mark Haines. How will Morgan Stanley support fresh individual expression, if at all?
But I’m determined not to obsess about that just now. No body—no individual and no firm—has ever taken to social media and followed the plan that was carefully laid out in the Ivory Tower. Participation always leads to a re-set, and that’s likely to happen at Morgan Stanley.
Re-read that line from the memo—the part about using the networking sites to market and share content. With a few months in, my guess is that the architects of the plan will realize that listening and learning should have been an expectation, too. In a conversation it can’t all be about you and what you want to accomplish.
As a result of its initial experience, reception and feedback from practitioners, the firm should be smarter and sharper as a result of having taken this on. I’d look for a Version 1.5 of the plan to begin to reflect the firm’s real vision for the value it can add using social media and, secondarily, the value it can receive.
From the New York Times’ DealBook blog: Tweet on the Street
Excerpt: “Financial advisers can also select from a library of preapproved status updates that cover market updates, economic and investment insights and wealth management topics.”
From Registered Rep: Morgan First On Wall Street to Crack Social Media Code
Excerpt: “Lauren Boyman, MSSB’s director of social media, notes that the firm plans to loosen the reigns eventually. Critical will be having the firm’s advisors catch up with those who are early adopters and much more comfortable understanding how to use the social media platform in a compliant manner.”
From Mashable: Morgan Stanley Brokers Will Use Twitter & LinkedIn To Market Themselves
Excerpt: “The advisers will use the social channels to communicate with existing clients and look for sales leads.”
From The Wall Street Journal’s Financial Adviser Blog, this post by Josh Brown, also known as The Reformed Broker on his blog and on Twitter: Morgan Stanley’s Twitter Initiative: Well-Meaning but Pointless
Excerpt: “With all due respect to Morgan Stanley, can they really think that anyone has an interest in being spammed with PR and pre-approved status updates from their broker? This firm is bringing social media companies public for billions of dollars and this is what they think it’s about?”
Finally, for today at least, you can see some other reactions by searching “Morgan Stanley” at search.twitter.com. There’s less to find on this topic but remember that you can also use the AdvisorTweets search engine to check out comments from advisors who are already using social media.
Your thoughts? They’re always welcome.
A question appeared in the AdvisorTweets stream yesterday that advisors have asked repeatedly since the April 2010 launch of the iPad.
Most likely @ResilientInvest (the Twitter account of fee-only financial planning firm Rockwood Wealth Management) meant to ask a broad question and wasn’t necessarily seeking recommendations from financial advisors.
But I’ll use this as an occasion to remind you that it is possible to narrow your information searches to what only financial advisors are saying and thinking. One value of AdvisorTweets is not just its aggregation but its archiving of tweets by financial advisors. AdvisorTweets is an implied community and advisors in the database (U.S.-based financial advisors using public Twitter accounts for business purposes) and the tweets they’ve sent are available as a resource for you to consult.
Those of us who watch advisor tweets have seen the iPad question and other technology-related (CRM, email provider, etc.) questions asked and addressed before. Clearly, advisory firms are adopting various technologies at various paces.
A search yesterday afternoon of the term “iPad” produced more than 280 tweets since last April, some from enthusiastic advisors, others from skeptics. Some tweets were tweets to iPad editorial coverage and yes, there are tweets commenting on iPad apps.
An Ad Hoc Focus Group At Your Disposal
Where do information-seekers turn to for relevant information? Google and other search engines, obviously. But social sites have the potential to add filtering, which heightens the relevance of the search results. People turn to Twitter for the freshest “news,” to Facebook for information curated by their friends and to LinkedIn for information vetted by their business network.
AdvisorTweets is an ecosystem that draws its life and breath from the Twitter API. Ask a question on Twitter and there’s no telling who will see your question and answer it—the broad net is part of its appeal. But when you’d like to narrow your search to what financial advisors are saying and have had to say about technology or other topics since April 2010, try AdvisorTweets’ Search.
Much has been made of what a big news week last week was. There was a lot to keep track of in the investment business, too, as many of us benefitted from tweets sent from two conferences underway:
- the Financial Planning Association’s FPA Retreat 2011 (see the #FPARetreat11 tweets)
- the Investment Company Institute 2011 General Membership Meeting (see the #iciconf tweets)
But it would be a shame if you missed a 72-minute discussion on how “Social Media Is Changing The World Of Investing, a Milken Institute Global Conference discussion held last Wednesday and posted online shortly afterward. Even I was putting off watching an hour-long online panel discussion, but trust me when I say that this is worth your time. You’ll get a lot out of the panelists’ insights on and examples of how professional investors are using Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs and other forms of social media to gain intelligence. Financial advisors, regulators SEC and FINRA, and asset managers were mentioned quite a bit.
The panel, moderated by Fox Business Network senior correspondent Dennis Kneale, included:
- Chris Albinson, Managing Director, Panorama Capital and @chrisalbinson
- Scott Burns, Director of ETF, Closed-End Fund and Alternatives Research, Morningstar
- Tom Lydon, Publisher, ETF Trends and @TomLydon
- Evan McDaniel, Chief Information Officer, MerlinOne Trading Partners (@SellPuts)
- Jon Najarian, Co-Founder, optionMonster.com and @OptionMonster
Note that the image above is just an image—code to embed the video has not been made available. Click on the image or this link to watch it.
A few notes follow, but try to watch the video for all the context and color. The numbers in parentheses are time markers.
Social Media Gives Investors An Advantage
Albinson repeatedly referred to social media as a “wrecking ball” whose impact is yet to be felt in banking and finance. One example: He knows a trader who wrote a script for LinkedIn to track the movement of sales reps moving from RIM to Apple. The trader was 12 months ahead of the RIM/Apple trade, Albinson said. (11:20)
Albinson: Asked to provide an example of social media breaking news, Albinson described how a blogger in Moscow pulled together sell-through information from Twitter and regulatory filings and found a discrepancy between those reports and mobile unit volume Microsoft was reporting. “It was a catastrophe for Microsoft. Blogged in Moscow, picked up on Twitter…Who’s the good guy/bad guy in that scenario? Is it Microsoft misleading the public?” (39:00)
Najarian: Twitter broadens and democratizes information access. “Many of you have very sophisticated systems, whether it’s Bloomberg or First Call, very expensive, sophisticated means of acquiring information. Whether it’s at $4,000/month or 50,000 shares a week that you have to do to get that information, that blocks a lot of others from getting that information. You might find that you can get that information on Twitter…With Twitter you can research, hit that stock symbol and see what people post. That’s manna from heaven if you’re an information junkie like me, wondering what’s going on and why would a stock be moving.” (28:00)
Financial Advisors’ Participation In Social Media
Kneale showed several slides, most featuring data from the recent American Century Investments survey.
Saying that the “SEC’s archaic disclosure requirements do not work in a 140-character world,” Burns reacted to the survey data showing that 70% of advisors have a Facebook page. “But what’s actually on there? It’s mostly personal.” (15:00)
Lydon: “The train has left and the SEC is not jumping in front and saying, ‘Stop,’” to advisors. “But what they’re doing is reserving the right to come into shops and asking, ‘Are you posting misleading information, are you pumping and dumping, are you not disclosing?’…For the average financial advisor out there…it’s common sense to do what you want to do.” (17:25)
Lydon: “The average advisor who hasn’t embraced social media and really committed to it is going to have trouble with his business. Right now buy-and-hold isn’t sexy and especially with what’s coming on the fixed-income side, they’re going to have to do a lot to ingratiate themselves with their clients.” (1:08)
Najarian: “The SEC and FINRA really do have to get on board with this. Because what are they promoting? They are promoting people who aren’t registered as spokesmen or knowledgeable about a particular stock. Because the people who are registered can’t say anything.” (18:20)
Najarian: “We’re going to drag the SEC and FINRA kicking and screaming into letting real folks that are the Series 7 or registered investment advisors use social media in a good way…one of the things that will change is that there will be more good guys in the game with good information…There are a significant amount of good guys with good information that can’t participate right now because their Compliance officer won’t let them. Do you see anything on Twitter from Fidelity, from Goldman Sachs, from Morgan Stanley?” (1:10) [In fact, Fidelity does have a Twitter account.]
Asset Managers And Social Media
Lydon: “Broker-dealers and mutual fund companies are handcuffed, they just can’t get information out there before it’s old or irrelevant.” He named Van Eck Global as one firm that has “found a legal way to get the information out” by maintaining a separate Website, HardAssetsInvestor.com. Other firms are using the media and bloggers to disseminate information along the lines of “We have a new product, we’re seeing a trend in bonds, we can talk to you about it, maybe, off the record.” (38:30)
Burns: Naming “successful” blogs like Oppenheimer’s and iShares’, Burns predicted continued asset manager interest “as they figure out that snail mail has died, email has died, how do I communicate with my customer when they have opted to make Facebook their primary place for information?” (1:09)
Lydon: Much of the panel was focused on using social media for trading information but it can also be used as education for the average investor…”A company like PIMCO, a trillion and a half, made their money bonds and now they know what’s coming, they see the light at the end of the table. How do they embrace their shareholders using social media to say, ‘Hey folks, you know this thing is going to change and we have some other opportunities for you and maybe now is the time to start thinking about them.’ That’s a classic situation.” (1:04)
When an event for financial advisors is underway, I make a practice of following the Twitter hashtag. It’s a terrific way of tracking what thought leaders and other community participants (e.g., conference exhibitors) are saying and how others are reacting in real-time.
I’d added the FPA Business Solutions 2011 conference hashtag (#BizSol11) as a column in my TweetDeck Thursday morning, and was checking in on the proceedings when, to my surprise, I started seeing tweets mentioning AdvisorTweets.
Whaaat? That the FPA’s keynote speaker futurist Gerd Leonhard was aware of AdvisorTweets and calling attention to it floored me. I’ve followed Leonhard for a few years after learning about him, no doubt, on the Internet. He’s cool—I mean, how many keynote speakers tweet about points from their presentations, anyway?
Beyond that tweet, what did Leonhard say in the keynote? I’ve been able to piece some of it together, based on subsequent tweets, Leonhard’s blog post about the presentation, his deck and media coverage.
From Centralized Egosystems to Decentralized Ecosystems
From Leonhard’s blog post: “In my 45-minute talk (the audio version will be available, soon, I hope) I talked about how business is changing from being ‘egosystems‘ i.e. centralized, empire-dominated, in-silos, in-broadcast-mode and top-down, to networked, mobile, social, decentralized and inter-connected ecosystems.”
He also shared the deck he presented, embedded below.
Leonhard’s message, according to InvestmentExecutive.com, was that “financial advisors can play a valuable role in this networked environment.” InvestmentExecutive quotes Leonhard as saying “The noisier this world gets, with people putting up advice and videos and blogs about financial matters, the problem is now a lack of filtering. Your job in this community is to be the trusted filter, the curator, as in a museum. Think of yourself as a guide. That’s what the power is.”
“Your job is to filter the ocean of information. Your clients don’t have time to go through it all” and “Add transparency. Declare what you are doing. Trust is crucial,” were two Leonhard quotes that appeared in a Financial Advisor report by Mike Byrnes of Byrnes Consulting.
Advisors Finding Their Voice
Given that as a context, AdvisorTweets was called out by Leonhard as a window through which to watch financial advisors find and use their own natural voice on Twitter. What we do is find advisors (or they find us) and filter advisors’ tweets from all other tweets to provide a sense of what advisors are thinking.
Some of my favorite advisor tweets are the tweets sent by an advisor commenting on something he or she is watching on CNBC. Twitter gives the advisor a means of weighing in to provide balance, another perspective or just a dry quip. CNBC doesn’t get to be the only one with a microphone. Even if it’s a single tweet and even if the advisor has a couple dozen followers, the power of the broadcast empire is diffused. Love that!
I’m not changing the subject when I tell you that I saw “Inside Job” Friday evening. As you can see in the trailer embedded above, Inside Job is the Oscar-winning documentary about the 2008 economic collapse. It’s an excellent, must-see film that attempts to reconstruct the forces leading up to the crisis of just a few years ago.
And yet throughout the interviews with leading financial commentators—Wall Street executives, economists, academics and the media—I missed any mention of what was being said on blogs, on Twitter, using YouTube. It may have been the last financial event to happen without a significant showing in social media.
If something were to happen in the financial markets today, God forbid, there would be no ignoring what was being said on the financial blogs. And quotes from individuals in the StockTwits community I’d expect to see included in the reporting.
Financial advisors? Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch were named in Inside Job, but what wasn’t documented was what was being said by the individuals who make up the decentralized, dispersed network of financial professionals who guide investors on—to use the generic phrase—”Main Street.”
Today, what financial advisors are thinking in Excelsior, MN, or The Woodlands, TX or San Francisco is easily accessible on AdvisorTweets via Twitter and via other forms of social media. In the future, individual advisors’ views will be known. Will they add to the noise or produce heightened accountability and even better understanding? That’s part of the story to be told.
A Motley Collection of Practices
In the aggregation that AdvisorTweets does, today you’ll see slightly more than 500 advisors in various developmental stages of their use of Twitter.
The site isn’t a showcase of only best practices, it’s a motley collection. Some of the tweets contain superb, succinct insights from advisors you may have never met, linking to sites you never know existed. And then there are the other Twitter accounts that I’m hoping will eventually get the knack of how to send a re-tweetable tweet.
As for AdvisorTweets itself, I’m cringing that we took a bad picture on slide 17 of Leonhard’s presentation. We’d been suffering from an intermittent stuttering problem (since fixed) and Leonhard’s screenshot captured it. We’re evolving, too, and more on that at a later date.
I happened to mention Thursday’s thrill to the friend I watched Inside Job with. “I don’t get it,” she said. “I’ve been hearing about AdvisorTweets from you for two years and you’re surprised that it came up at a meeting for financial planners? What have you been doing?”
AdvisorTweets has been more than content to toil in relative obscurity—as have many of the lightly followed advisors. The truth is, advisors and those of us who care about the work advisors do are all just feeling our way in developing an understanding of how social media will exactly work with retail investing and financial planning.
This goes beyond what the regulators will and will not allow. There’s a lot the early adopters are learning about connecting, as Leonhard says, in ways that are new, powerful and (I believe) undeniable.
Update: Leonhard’s presentation also got Stephanie Sammons from WiredAdvisor thinking. See her “The Future Is Now For Financial Advisors” post, which includes takeaways for advisors.