We consistently urge you to consider sharing your content and even limited functionality on other domains, primarily but not exclusively social networking sites. We’ve seen the effectiveness of content syndication and we stand by the recommendation.
But now seems like a good time to call your attention to the range of possibilities when venturing onto other domains. If you print and mail marketing pieces, if you advertise, if you send emails—heck, if you count on wholesalers to support a marketing campaign, you’re already familiar with the surprises/disappointments that can happen when you rely on others to deliver your message.
Always we believe that marketers should find the courage to imagine and seek to innovate. Um, but we offer the notes below—which we’re not representing to be either comprehensive or the final word—to encourage you to “hedge” your bets, for your firm and your team’s sake, when making social media plans and establishing expectations. Your message may not be sent on schedule, scale may not be possible, related data may not be yours.
When you make a plan that includes use of a site that’s out of your control, be aware of what you’re getting into. You’re affiliating with that site, in the same way that you affiliate your brand with a publication you advertise in or an email provider that you choose. In exchange for the opportunity to get in front of a larger or more engaged audience, you’re subject to your partner site’s rules and limitations.
Enter The Twitter Fail Whale
High traffic levels, traffic spikes, lost tweets, planned and unplanned maintenance all challenge Twitter’s reliability just when you need it to be reliable. Of course, make sure that you have at least one other means of getting the word out. It is too soon for a Twitter-only communications strategy.
LinkedIn May Be Blocked
LinkedIn may seem like a natural, even safe way to begin to test social media for B2B communications between asset managers and financial advisors. For example, a year ago we considered it a great forum for wholesalers to establish themselves in, set up content outposts for their firms’ content and just engage. That was when we saw how independent advisors were taking to LinkedIn.
But we’re seeing some cracking down by broker-dealers (asset managers, too) as Compliance learns more about LinkedIn’s many features. LinkedIn offers private capabilities that today can’t be supervised, archived or disabled. So, some firms are blocking access and others are requiring identities to be cloaked. For the near term at least, LinkedIn may not enable you to scale as you might expect.
Facebook Doesn't Share
Notwithstanding its fast and loose approach to users’ privacy, the size of Facebook’s base (more than 400 million active users) is its appeal. All marketers should be thinking about how to mobilize Facebook users to share content. Those with budgets are intrigued by the ability to target advertising. Whether you're thinking about a content or advertising-based Facebook strategy, be sure that you understand what you’re getting, what you’re not getting and what you're giving up.
A recent Dishy Mix podcast (I love podcasts! Have I mentioned that in this post yet?) included a brief exchange about Facebook.
“When you advertise on Facebook, you’re in a walled garden,” said Susan Bratton, host. “When you do those ads that have the social graph in them, you need to spend a minimum of $25,000 a month and you have to have a Facebook page to link to. Those ads don’t link out to the brand. I don’t think everybody understands that. Facebook is literally getting brands to spend tons of money and they’re just circulating people around their own site.”
Bratton’s guest Kurt Abrahamson of SocialMedia.com said Facebook has been trying to talk some companies into closing their corporate Websites down in favor of a fan page. “That is ceding a lot of power to Facebook,” he said.
Hell may freeze over before an asset manager does this. I hope so. Here’s what Bratton said: “I’d never do it, my God…There’s only a goesinta, there’s no goesouta on Facebook—all the data goes in but you can’t get it out.”
We encourage your exploration of social networking sites as a piece of your marketing mix, all of which supports your business objectives. Be realistic in what you expect to be able to accomplish and go in with eyes wide open. Do the same due diligence you'd do for any other business partner but do it a little better and continue to do it. Just as asset managers' and financial advisors' social media plans are in motion, so are the capabilities and terms of service of most social sites.