A Compromise For All You Social Media Skeptics

“You can’t possibly believe that all advisors are going to be tweeting and friending people?”

Such was one response to the eBook we published last week (Who Says You Can’t? 5 Friction-less Ways Investment Management Marketers Can Take Part in Social Media) [The eBook has been removed from the site, pending an update]. We present it as a snapshot of social media adoption by financial advisors and of the current best practices and possibilities for mutual fund and ETF marketing.

We believe that there’s a communications channel opened up here being used by many of the very people (independent financial advisors, largely) that money managers want to get to know better. Some people liked the eBook.

Here’s how I answered my provocateur. No, we don’t think it’s a matter of time before all financial advisors have active Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. accounts. For the foreseeable future, we know that the majority of investment management communications will continue to be through wholesalers. Marketers will continue to fly the flag at a few conferences every year, and printing and mailing will continue. We don’t believe that the “blast emails” will stop anytime soon.

What we do believe—and this is noncontroversial—is that understanding customer segments is going to be increasingly important. And, our focus on social media is a nudge to encourage you to consider the different needs and expectations of your 24/7 wired advisor/advisor prospect.

Have you noticed how consumer products companies have been taking their lumps from customers lately? And, are you noticing what’s being done to appease vocal customer segments?

Check out this video from a Domino’s pizza owner in Chicago. It’s been called video penance for the lengths he goes to when apologizing for making a pizza wrong—something he learned about when he saw his customer @InteractiveAmy complain on Twitter.

Last month, Britain retailer Marks & Spencer acquiesced after several thousand large-busted women used Facebook to mobilize their objections to higher prices for larger garments.

How significant is @InteractiveAmy's pizza order to Domino’s corporate revenue? How important are large bra sales to Marks & Spencer? Nobody has been silly enough to ask these questions because they’re not the point. The point was customer satisfaction. The customer now has a microphone and it’s connected to the Internet.

Alienation of customer affections in business-to-business relationships can be less dramatic. A B2B customer may be less likely to throw a tantrum and more inclined to let himself be wooed away. If he or she is a financial advisor and online more than off, he or she no doubt will meet companies that are relevant to how they want to do business.

What to do about the sense that it’s premature to develop a social media competency for communicating with financial advisors? While we think everyone in Marketing today should understand Web 2.0 before Web 3.0 is upon us, maybe we can meet in the middle on this.

What if you pretended that there’s a brand new market for you to develop and that it’s a place where financial advisors speak a different language and have different customs? The market may be small relative to your established markets but you’d work it nonetheless, wouldn’t you? You’d probably send an advance team of a few (or one or 0.5 of an FTE?) of your best and brightest. They’d need to be trained, they’d need a plan and they'd need to report back on their progress.

Do this and maybe you don’t need to involve all of Marketing or all of Sales this year, maybe it’s just a skunkworks for now. This would be a low-impact high potential return way to get the social media learning and customer understanding started.

Skeptical that the social media-inclined advisors are that much different from the advisors you’re accustomed to communicating with? Read this eye-opening look at one advisor’s use of social media—and then let’s talk.