Victor Gaxiola

Social Media Thought Leadership
October 12th, 2014 by Victor Gaxiola

HS05- Kristin Andree



In episode 5 we introduce Kristin Andree of Andree Media & Consulting, and social media columnist for Investment News on a recorded interview after the Social Shake Up Conference in Atlanta.  In the interview we learn about the coaching work Kristin does to encourage advisors to use social media in their practice and she shares observations on industry trends. Follow @VictorGaxiola and @RonnyKerr and join the conversation on Twitter using hashtag #HSonAir.

Check out this episode!

October 6th, 2014 by Victor Gaxiola

HS04- Social Shake Up in Atlanta

In episode 5, Victor and Ronny discuss observations and themes from the Social Shake Up Conference in Atlanta using big words like disruption and innovation and try to figure out if social media is dead.  Join the conversation on Twitter with @VictorGaxiola and @RonnyKerr using hashtag #HSonAir.


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August 27th, 2013 by Victor Gaxiola

Observations from the LIMRA/LOMA Social Media Conference for Financial Services

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?

March 28th, 2013 by Victor Gaxiola

Lessons from a First Time Flyer

This post originally ran on the Actiance blog in February  2013


I’ve been flying my whole life and cannot recall my first experience of boarding or traveling on an airplane.  From a young age,  I’ve always been a fan of air travel preferring the window seat over an aisle to look out the window and experience the ride.  Hell, I even spent nearly 10 years working for United Airlines because I loved airplanes.

As a frequent flier, I’ve had some good flights and some bad flights and it’s only during times of weather or major turbulence that I’m reminded how amazing it is that we have harnessed the skies.  Today a person can have breakfast in New York, lunch in Denver and dinner in Los Angeles, all in a single day.  Every day 747s cross the Pacific Ocean bridging Asia and North America and all points in between.  What used to take months, takes hours today and air travel has become so commonplace that we rarely give it a second thought.  That is unless something goes wrong, or it’s your first time flying.  Last year on a short flight from Salt Lake City to San Jose I re-experienced the wonder of air travel with a first time flyer.

Sitting in the window seat of an 737 I knew the ride home was going to be interesting when the person sitting behind me announced to those sitting in her row next to her that it was her first time flying and that she may have some questions as she was feeling quite nervous.   The girl was about 20 years old, and we were all silently shocked that at her age this would be her first flight.  The kind woman in the middle seat next to her said she had nothing to worry about and reminded our first time flyer that air travel  continues to be the safest form of transportation.  As reassuring as that thought is, and I remind myself of this fact each time I fly, it’s the lack of control that makes this harder to digest.  We all assume that the pilots in the front know what they are doing and that they’ll get us safely from point A to point B.  Our experience without incident continues to add to our reassurance and given the number of flights that take off and land each day, it is a miracle that the incident count is so low.  Back to the story.

As the plane pushed back, the first time flyer began her series of questions, asking her seat mate what we can expect to feel once the plane takes off.   The lady, a saint in my opinion, explained that the plane would taxi to the runway, accelerate, and at the right time pull up into flight.  The plane would continue its ascent until reaching a safe cruising altitude where it would remain until it was time to land.   Satisfied with this explanation, she sat motionless asking if she should keep the window shade open or closed?   The middle seat woman said she prefers it open to see what is going on.

The plane taxied to the runway as expected and revved up its engines.  Before long we were gaining speed, picking up momentum and the plane began to fly into the wild blue yonder.  The girl behind me started to freak out!

“Oh my god!  Oh my god! Oh my god!”  She kept saying with a few shrieks thrown in between.

Meanwhile the woman in the middle seat consoled her telling her it would be OK.

As soon as the plane went into the air the girl exclaimed “WE ARE FLYING!”   She was amazed.  Her amazement was quickly followed by fear when there was a loud sound below our feet.  Without missing a beat, the woman in the middle said “landing gear” sharing that the landing gear was being brought in and there was nothing to be afraid of.

With each bump, there was a small shriek from her and an short explanation from her seat mate.  Once we leveled off, the girl behind me apologized for her behavior, a little embarrassed with the shrieks and minor freak out at take off.  EVERYONE was very understanding and reassuring her not to worry- we had all been first time flyers at one time too.   The fact that so many had flown before and were freely providing support made her feel a little silly for her behavior.   For me, it was very heartening to see a community of travelers come together for the aid of one.

The flight, like most,was uneventful and she actually enjoyed looking out the window, especially as we flew over the snowy Sierra Nevada mountains and Lake Tahoe.   As we approached San Jose, the woman in the middle began to prep our nervous flyer explaining each step of the descent, including the flaps on the wings, the return of the landing gear, and the bump on impact as the landing gear hit ground. It was amazing how calm and reassuring she was and the girl closely listened, asking a few questions along the way.  As a result the remainder of the flight was a series of validating what the woman in the middle had shared and before long we were on the ground again, safe and sound at the gate.

The poor girl had been through a life changing ordeal and although she was traveling alone, she was not alone.  As we deplaned I turned to congratulate her on her first flight and shared that it gets easier with each flight.  She thanked me, but was in no hurry to relive the experience anytime soon. In the end, I think she kept it together quite well.

Witnessing the fears of a first time flyer was quite an experience, especially since all those elements that were terrifying her have become so second nature for those of us who travel regularly.   It  also brought to light the importance and value of having someone with experience guide you and provide you with the reassurance one needs when faced with uncertainty.  There are a number of lessons here, and I walked away with a renewed sense of wonder and desire to approach each new task with the same level of curiosity and to seek out the experience of others to make the journey more manageable.

How do you approach new experiences, and what can we learn from those that take the plunge?

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