This post originally ran on the Actiance blog on August 26, 2013
Last week Team Actiance participated in the annual LIMRA/LOMA Social Media Conference for Financial Services held at the Hyatt Regency in Boston. The conference agenda was full of great speakers and on Thursday morning we were treated to a special keynote talk by author, entrepreneur, and social media evangelist Gary Vaynerchuk. Gary kicked off the day with an energetic talk on his background and how he managed to adopt to the changing landscape of business that now includes social media. Although the tools of his trade have changed from his early days of selling lemonade, trading baseball cards, and online wine sales, he has not lost sight that all business is social and success is based on the stories we tell and the relationships we develop along the way to ultimately…..sell more stuff.
“We are in the business of storytelling. Where the stories are being told is changing – that’s where Social is.” — Gary Vaynerchuk
Prior to the conference, I had seen Gary’s presentations online and enjoyed his books “Crush It” and “The Thank You Economy”. In person, he very animated, confident, funny, and a natural storyteller. Meeting him after his talk was one of the highlight of the conference for me, and I look forward to reading his new book “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook” coming out November 26th.
Gary V’s kickoff presentation set the stage for the day and increased my awareness of the stories being shared and the key themes from the conference:
Twitter Use- Having participated in this event last year, one of my biggest observations was the increased number of Twitter users and the volume of tweets to share the sound bites of the presentations and the conversations of the event. Unlike last year where only a dozen or so attendees seemed to be tweeting, this year the hashtag #LLSMC was blazing with updates both from participants at the Hyatt and those monitoring it from afar. In fact, last year’s tweet totals were eclipsed before the end of the first day of the conference showing the increased use of Twitter as a broadcast medium and the adoption of use by attendees in financial services. How this will translate to end user behavior remains to be seen, but the increased use by practitioners is a positive sign of change.
The Fight for Attention- One of the key tenants of Gary’s presentation was that all advertising and marketing is a fight for attention and that social media posts are part of the noise. Unless you can get the attention of your audience, your message is falling on deaf ears. What investments are you making in time or money to increase the probability that your message is getting to its intended audience? These days people have too many choices to choose from and unless you can add value to the conversation and save people time, or money, you are spinning your wheels hoping for engagement. To highlight the change in how we consume media, when asked, a surprising number of people in the audience admitted to watching television with a second screen open (smart phone, tablet, or laptop) at the same time. If this trend continues, how will it change the way we advertise, brand and position our product and services? What tactics will we need to develop to get and then maintain attention?
Adding Value- You need to give to get. The concept of reciprocity in business is certainly not new, however the barriers of entry to compete are getting lower each day. How can an organization consistently provide value when the competition for attention (see above) is getting harder to navigate? The answer lies in the quality and quantity of “snack-able” content that makes it easy for people to read, and more importantly share. At Actiance, we recognize the importance of content and recently released a new white paper on what great content is, and the role it plays in fueling the engine of social media. Download your copy today.
Authenticity- Be real, be social, be present. Nothing can ruin the content of your message than the perception that its intent and delivery is not authentic. People like doing business with people, not brands, and providing a human voice to the message, quirks and all, makes it easier to consume and digest. Given the recent history of financial markets and perceptions of this industry, the need for authenticity and transparency has never been greater.
Collaboration- The successful adoption of a social strategy requires both sides of the house, marketing/communications and compliance to collaborate. Executive sponsorship of a social strategy also facilitates its adoption as part of the corporate DNA. Those that do, will have success sooner than those that don’t. The conference had a healthy mix of representation from both camps, and although it remains a challenge for many organizations, the successful implementation of social in this space is a key catalyst for change.
Realistic Expectations- No social strategy will have success overnight and expectations for engagement need to be tempered with the breadth of the audience and the quality and quantity of content. Social media success takes time, and engagement levels are likely to be low in the short run. However, this should not discourage organizations from continuing to pursue adoption or growth because a large percentage (roughly 90-95%) of social media users are lurkers. Just because they don’t post, comment, like or share, does not mean they don’t appreciate the value you add by sharing content or participating in social media. If you are trying to lose weight, you can’t expect to go on a diet, exercise, and see change in a few days. You need to work at it, be consistent and not give up. Only then will you see results.
There you have it, my quick observations on the main themes from the conference. I am sure I missed others that were discussed in the breakout sessions I did not attend, so I in invite those that participated in the event to share their own in the comment section of this blog. What themes did you observe? What are some of the trends and changes we can expect for Financial Social Media in the year to come?