The Next Chapter for Social Finance and Three Things to Consider

Some of the biggest news the past two weeks in social media surrounded the SEC’s announcement and Bloomberg’s news around social media. But what does this mean for communicators? While this is a big win for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, it means we need to be even more engaged as communicators with these platforms. First, let’s look at a round of each announcement.

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Securities Exchange Commission

The Wall Street Journal does a quick FAQ on the news and what it means. Over at CNBC they tell investor relations professionals to relax and enjoy some sleep. And Dominic Jones points out that the “devil is in the details” when it comes to interpreting the guidelines. So while the guidelines are meant to help companies, did anyone think of investors? Managing the information is important and Hootsuite offers some thoughts (we’re a Hootsuite client — and here’s a list of financial services firms currently using Hootsuite).  In 2010 I wrote about why investor relations professionals need to use StockTwits, and Howard Lindzon sums up his approach to what they have done and the SEC’s announcement:

“No matter what others call us or think, Stocktwits is a NEWSWIRE. Information is flowing from one to many, all day, every day and it is full of context.”

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Bloomberg Terminal

The others news came from Bloomberg and that they were now adding Twitters posts about companies to their terminal feeds. Mashable offers a screen shot of what this will look like. And Venture Beat points out that this won’t be a “firehouse” of tweets, so we’ll need to see what is chosen and what is not. With many financial companies still blocking social media, the importance of this is that people in the markets can now gain access to tweets that matter. And as Joe Weisenthal pointed out during the crisis in Cyprus Twitter was beating most other sources.

Why This Matters

Back in 2011 I pointed out that social finance had arrived. Traders, analysts and financial firms were already mining Twitter for data. The news this month continues the evolution of social finance and further emphasizes the importance and seriousness of the information that is being shared. Here are three things B2B firms need to think about as the SEC and Bloomberg help advance the significance of your posts.

  1. It’s time to revisit your guidelines and disclosure rules. If you haven’t sent the news about what just happened to your compliance and investor relations teams then stop reading and do that now. If you are still pitching internally to use social media this will show that you are on top of the news and give you further leverage to discuss how you can build your social media strategy. At the very least, it should continue to build your relationships internally, and that’s always a good thing.
  2. What you post matters (even more). Think carefully about how you word, when you post and what you want to say about your firm. And don’t be afraid to repost extremely important information. As information gets posted in more venues, and now pulled into the Bloomberg terminal, content management gains in influence. I would also continue to pay attention to what Bloomberg does with social media and integrating it across all of its media.
  3. Register for StockTwits. It’s value as a company just went up, but more importantly for you it’s value as a reputation tool to promote and protect your brand just increased. If you are not using it for your company then integrate it with your Twitter account (and don’t forget to add your Hootsuite account). And if you’re a PR Newswire client (we are) you get the added benefit of having StockTwits on your side too.

I’m a long-time believer that social media can be a catalyst for change within B2B organizations — from sales to investor relations to content management — and this month was significant. The amount of discussions online around what the SEC and Bloomberg have announced, both in agreement and disagreement, makes the value of what has been accomplished in the past decade of information exchange and disclosure both challenging and exciting. As communicators, it’s just discussing “why” we should use these tools but the thinking has advanced to “how” we use them.

Do how do you think this news changes social finance? Or is it business as usual? Let us know.

If you enjoyed this post you may also want to read the following:

What drives your social media strategy?

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How Well Do You Know Your Social Network? Probably Poorly

Five lessons learned after five years of B2B social media

Do most online communities fail?

What drives your B2B strategy?

Tuning into your industry

Are you ready for a real-time B2B world?

Need a Strategy? Start by Playing Games

Using Social Networking Sites in B2B Businesses

Around the World in Social Media

A lot has been happening in the world of social media, and I do mean the world. As many B2B companies move into using more social and digital tools we continue to read about case studies involving the big three — LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. But what abo0ut Sina Weibo? Orkut? Hi5? Renren? Are these networks a part of your strategy? Do you know who they reach and what they do? Do you need to expand your reach by using them?

Is your digital strategy stranded at home or are you on a journey to expand your work around the world?

As our business expands and we look to reach our customers around the world I’ve been reading more about the growth of social media globally. Here’s a breakdown of some of the research I’ve found interesting and helpful:

Asia

Europe

Latin America

But if you’re pressed for time and want a global view of what is happening online, I strongly suggest you download this Slideshare presentation from InSite Consulting and their total view social media around the world in 2011 (NOTE: you will need to request a copy from them).

Is there a presentation you liked that I missed pointing out above? Is there an example of what you’ve learned from your experiences? Is there a fact that surprised you from the information you viewed from the above links? Please share them in the comments.

If you enjoyed this you may also want to read:

World-Class social practices for B2B companies

What drives your social media strategy?

Are you ready for a real-time B2B world?

Are you ready for these five trends?

The most important question you can ask

Using social networking sites in B2B businesses?

Don’t Overlook the Power of LinkedIn Groups

LinkedIn continues to win me over. While the buzz remains focused on Facebook and Twitter, I continue to see improvements with the LinkedIn Platform. Some of the changes in the past year alone have included the addition of applications (e.g. Tripit), better group management functionality, new LinkedIn Blackberry application, and the latest change is the in the look and feel (more like Facebook/Twitter).linkedin.jpg

If you’re in B2B communication and you’re looking for a place to start in social media – or expand – then you need to go back to LinkedIn if you haven’t already. The main reason I like LinkedIn for social media is that it’s very transparent: I know who you are based on your profile and most people have a real photo (not an avatar of screen name). I am also a fan of their group functionality. We use mostly private LinkedIn groups at the exchange as a way to connect users (we become a networker) and as focus groups for topics, issues and news.

Here are some thoughts and ideas about why pursuing LinkedIn groups can be a win for you and your organization.

Privacy– One of the concerns of public streaming networks like FaceBook and LinkedIn to internal and external stakeholders is the issue of privacy. The “private” feature in LinkedIn helps ease those fears since messages can’t be picked up in Google or other search engines. As a side note, one thing we have noticed by keeping our groups private is that the the number of people remains a manageable size and we can control who joins. As these groups grow we likely will look at creating subgroups (another new feature). There are some good ideas on subgroups here via @CherylHarrison.

RSS Feeds — A nice feature is that you can aggregate RSS feeds into your group, which may or may not include feeds from your own company. And you absolutely should include feeds from relevant trade pulications and blogs to drive content without you having to search for it. We mostly use non-CME Group feeds in order to help foster discussions and provide us with more credibility since we bring in outside content.

Discussion– Part of the focus group feature of LinkedIn groups is the discussion section that allows you to have an open forum for whatever you need it. Do you want the group’s feedback on a new product you’ve launched? What about input on how to improve your web site? More important is you should encourage your audience to post topics and then you can take notes, learn and jump in when needed. Just don’t try to manage too much of the conversation or people will stop contributing.

Legal and Investor Relations- My guess is your corporate counsel is not on Twitter. They might be on Facebook. I blogged earlier about investor relations using StockTwits for to reach shareholders, but they likely aren’t there yet. Here is where LinkedIn can be a showcase for your social media efforts. There likely is more of a chance that they are on LinkedIn and you should be get them involved to show what social media can do and win their confidence.

Company Profile- While you’re at it you should take a quick look at your company’s profile on LinkedIn. There is an enormous amount of data people can find on this one page and someone needs to update it and validate it. Since people may want to learn more about your company before joining your group. I suggest you find your company now and make sure it’s accurate. As a bonus your recruiting department will appreciate the update.

This video from Kyle Flaherty is a nice overview on how to set up and start managing a group.

In addition, Mashable has some good tips here on how to manage your LinkedIn groups. Are you managing groups on LinkedIn now? If so, share some of your best practices with us. What’s worked well? What have you learned? And while you’re at it why don’t you connect to all of us here at B2B Voices on LinkedIn: Kate Brodock, Anna Barcelos, Arik Hanson, Aaron Pearson, Allan Schoenberg.

Using Social Media in the Banking and Financial Sectors

Allan wrote a post in July on building a social media marketplace in financial services.  There have been a few posts in recent news that highlight this issue of using social media concepts and tools in the banking and financial sectors, so I thought I’d take a moment to highlight a few.

  • Banks & Social Media – Will Slow & Steady Win the Race? (B2B Bliss) “It’s clear social media is changing the industry.  But, engagement is a different story.  Regulations and compliance issues still hamper many banks from embracing the truly “open transparency” social media requires.”
  • 5 Ways Banks are Using Social Media (Mashable) “By embracing the most popular tools available, the industry has also been embracing the best of what social media culture has to offer, and smaller, community banks seem to be leading the charge when it comes to social media innovation.”

Update: An article with thoughts from some one of our readers, @podcaststeve, “Bankers conference highlights opportunities, pitfalls of social networking(In NJBIZ)

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PR Week’s Power 2009 List — Where’s the B2B?

The great thing about lists and creating lists is not so much the result of what’s published, but the debate after (I’ve had my share of greatest soccer and hockey players over the course of time). While I’m not about to debate who should or should not be on the 2009 PR Week Power List, I am taking a position on the lack of respect for B2B communications and communicators.

There already has been some questions raised on Twitter in regards to social media and how many of the leaders on this list may not use it. I’m not going there. To keep this in context with the topic of our blog I want to keep this in context with B2B.

Yes, you could argue that firms such as Weber Shandwick and Edelman help B2B clients with important counsel (you can also make the distinction that every agency is a B2B company). And, yes, firms like Microsoft and JPMorgan do have B2B client bases to service. What surprises me is that only two companies primarily in the B2B space are listed (Jon Iwata, VP, marketing and communications, IBM; Gary Sheffer, executive director, comms and public affairs, GE). But in my reading of the list guess how often B2B was referenced? (I’ll give you a hint, it rhymes with hero.)

Why should this matter? Research group eMarketer recently looked at the timeframe of 2008 to 2012 and thinks that B2B spending in the U.S. on social networks alone will increase 500% to $210 million (Via @mashable). And this year, in the midst of a recession, B2B online marketing spending is expected to increase among large and small firms. B2B magazine also surveyed the industry in December and you may have been surprised at the results — 31.1% of B2B marketers said they planed to increase marketing budgets this year (43.5% said budgets would be flat).

Is it just that B2B communications is misunderstood? Is it a lack of respect? Or perhaps a lack of appeal? The money and budgets certainly are there to prove the point that B2B marketing and public relations is serious business. Or maybe I’m just splitting hairs? What do you think?