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.


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.”


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.

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Using Social Networking Sites in B2B Businesses

The Future of Social Media is Not Digital

I spoke at three separate events last week with a focus on how social media has disrupted B2B communications and the way we operate. While there was a lot of focus on what we have accomplished and lessons learned, everyone seemed interested in my thoughts on what’s next. What is the next platform? Is there a new technology we are testing? What are B2B companies going to do next? What should we be looking to do?

I recently talked about the changing role of communicators, but I’m never one to make predictions, especially when it comes to technology. That’s why I read the blogs of people like Howard Lindzon, Armano, the team at Convince & Convert and others.

That’s not to say I don’t think a lot about technology and all things digital. Tools like Twitter and Instagram came out of nowhere and one of the next new technologies will likely do the same. That is a topic I personally follow regularly, and right now, I’m interested in content aggregation, especially in light of yesterday’s Google Reader news, and how individuals wade through the endless streams of information and vertical communities that help focus conversations.

But technology aside, I think the next, next thing in B2B communications is face-to-face communications. That’s not exactly revolutionary, but it is vital. Read what Aaron Pearson had to say about this while at SXSW.

People want intimate experiences that cannot be filled by any social media.

There still remains a lot to do in social media. Twitter and Stocktwits continue to evolve their real-time streams, LinkedIn still provides us ways to professionally connect and other platforms give us a variety of choice to leverage our B2B content. These are and will be important business tools moving forward.

Speaking last week at the Marketforce Social Media in Financial Services conference
Speaking last week at the Marketforce Social Media in Financial Services conference

But we are coming closer to the point where competing with our competition on social media will be like competing websites, trade show booths or advertising. These tools do matter, but they will become ubiquitous and expected. A few years ago, companies truly gained a competitive advantage using social media, and we still do, but as it makes its way throughout the enterprise it will be more challenging to do so. Will you still be the best brand on Twitter? Will your Facebook page help you stand out against others? Do Slideshare and Instagram show off your thought leadership? Maybe. Maybe not. Does it matter?

Last week continued to demonstrate to me what I have believed for some time since engaging more and more in social media: People want intimate experiences that cannot be filled by any social media. Yes, Google Hangouts can make a difference and hashtags on Twitter create virtual discussions, but that is not good enough.

My coffee break conversations at the Marketforce event were constructive and interesting. I was also able to finally spend some quality time talking with Cristophe Langlois of Visible Banking. The discussions I had with the students from the Hult International Business School and Penn State Harrisburg were vastly different, but they challenged me on many areas of digital and

We are all in a battle for the “hearts and minds” of customers, influencers and other various stakeholders, and while social media helps us connect, it does not replace what we want as people.

Is your company a leader in social media? Great. Is your organization following and trying to understand new technologies? Wonderful. Are you trying to learn what can help make your brand stand out and understood? Perfect.

But how are you connecting with people and creating those intimate moments that matter? If you are not thinking about this yet, then you quite possibly will be left behind by the next wave of social media: building and maintaining relationships.

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

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What is social media success in B2B… and some examples



Social Media Management — My Point of View

Trying to manage content, technology and time today is a never-ending battle (and one that we always end up losing). So what can you do to manage all that you have to do? I was asked to contribute my thoughts for CorpComms magazine last month and share my ten tips for how I try to stay on top of content, news and information.

Managing social media shouldn't always be a battle; here are some ideas to help
Managing social media shouldn’t always be a battle; here are some ideas to help

You can read the full story here: Managing Social Media

We’d love to know your good ideas and tips as well so add them in the comments below. You can also follow CorpComms on Twitter and their staff.

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Further Momentum with Financial Services and Social Media

There continues to be momentum in the use of social media in the financial services industry. Last week, I wrote about what is happening in the futures industry and the impact of social media, but a host of other changes have shown that the industry is becoming an industry that understands the transition. While the industry has often been branded as a laggard in social media, there is growing evidence that firms have the people and processes in place to integrate the right tools. Here are a few noteworthy items:

Two weeks ago we saw Goldman Sachs join Twitter, a long awaited launch;

StockTwits and PRN Newswire recently joined forces to integrate news into the social media stream;

Econsultancy last month wrote about the use of LinkedIn among financial services firms;

Artwork in the London office of the WSJ.
Artwork in the London office of the WSJ.

The Financial Times reported in April how more financial services firms are embracing social media; and,

I recently spoke on a panel discussion at Cognito PR on trends in B2B social media in financial services (you can download the PDF summary);

So what’s changed? First, social media has received broad acceptance among many retail and consumer brands already. We are seeing the financial industry study these habits and follow what has worked and what has not. Second, having the internal processes in place and compliance matters put into order have become more clear. It was only a matter of time that this would happen, and as more firms use social media we are seeing the result of common ground in this area. Third, as journalists use social media more they are effectively helping to pull communicators into the mix (if only to listen at first). Finally, communicators are becoming more comfortable with the social tools and understanding how they are used.

I believe we will continue to see growth in social media use among the financial services industry. In particular, I think the the area of evaluation will be of key importance as firms try to make sense of the qualitative and quantitative information online. I also believe there will be more emphasis put into CRM and social enterprise tools by financial firms as they try to build revenue streams from the social streams. No matter what direction financial firms head, the adoption of these tools will clearly benefit many industries as more investments in people and resources will be made.

If you enjoyed this you may also want to read:

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Other voices: Julie Meredith, Radian6

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Using social media in the banking and financial sectors



StockTwits and PR Newswire Partnership Further Validates Financial Social Media

Last week’s news that StockTwits and PR Newswire are joining forces represents a huge opportunity for B2B social media and financial communications (Disclaimer: We are a customer of both companies). As Howard Lindzon, founder of StockTwits wrote in his blog they are looking for ways to “layer on top of the publishing world for financial people to push, share and pull content” that meet the compliance needs of public companies. This partnership is another step in that direction.

The Social Network for Finance

Two years ago I wrote in this blog that financial communicators need to seriously look at StockTwits as a broadcast and engagement platform. The company has continued to extend its reach by striking content deals with major financial news outlets such as CNN Money Yahoo! Finance and MarketWatch. What I have always enjoyed about our relationship with StockTwits is its relentless passion and focus on community; they have never lost site of the value and importance of their members who contribute 24/7 to the network.

With this latest partnership with PR Newswire, known as Capital Markets Visibility 365, StockTwits continues to tap into the news flow of organizations. At the same time, PR Newswire brings further credibility to the social media landscape for investor relations and helps add value to the trading community that StockTwits values so highly. We have long been doing social media and have achieved some incredible results, and I like this agreement between two companies who understand the value of corporate news and bringing increased transparency to the investor community. This really is a win-win-win-win for both companies involved, communicators and investors.

If you still haven’t looked at StockTwits as part of your company’s or your client’s social media planning or monitoring you should register and learn more about the community. And if you have questions about using StockTwits or PR Newswire you can ask me on Twitter or reach out to Howard Lindzon or Brad Smith (PR Newswire). In addition, post your comments and questions below and I will provide my thoughts.

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2012: No Predictions, Just Actions

Everyone seems to have dusted off their crystal balls the past few weeks as the predictions for social media in 2012 are plentiful. I  stopped reading them. There are only a handful of people who are making predictions that I would trust, and after seeing so many most are not taking into account the current economic climate and the themes are too repetitive.

Instead of adding to the overcrowded space of predictions I want to focus on actions. The path for next year is clearly lined with more questions than answers. So, what am I looking at in 2012, a year clouded with economic uncertainty and promises for social media nirvana? Here’s a rundown of what’s on my agenda and questions you may need to ask yourself:

What's ahead for you in 2012?
  • Digital Content: We’re doing a lot more with digital content on our website and that will continue. What we’ve learned from the past few years of doing social media is that we have become our own media aggregator with original content that cannot be captured anywhere else. Whether it’s our blog, our online magazine, our media room or our education center, various stakeholders look to us for content and we will continue to drive more of that next year. What are your plans for digital content in 2012? Have you developed an editorial calendar? Do you have an editorial team?
  • Mobile: This was a great year for us and using mobile devices as we expanded our iPhone/iPad offering to the Android and Blackberry. In addition, we introduced an app specifically for our annual Global Financial Leadership event. Our research continues to show that users are moving more and more toward accessing our site from mobile devices and we know that consumers in general are digesting more information via their mobile devices. We will continue to enhance our mobile strategy in 2012 not only for distributing content through social platforms but also for giving people access to our information. How are you integrating mobile into your marketing strategy? What type of research do you have on people accessing your content from mobile devices?
  • Real-time matters: We’ve been using Twitter since 2008 and are one of the few verified brands. In our line of business, real-time news and information matters and for the markets and finance this won’t change. David Meerman Scott’s latest book on real-time marketing captures exactly how we approach this world of instant news. Where we’ll be looking at improving on what we’ve already accomplished is with our partnership with StockTwits. Messages about our products and services in the past year surged from 15,000 a month a year ago to more than 40,000 a month last year on their platform. Does real-time matter to you and your business? Are you targeting the right people on Twitter? Do you have a plan for how you can leverage StockTwits and the messages about your company?
  • Social networks: Facebook will still be a part of our plan and remains a great way to connect with customers in a more static environment. We can create very topical conversations around news and events on our page and that won’t change. We do know that Facebook fans are passionate about topics and the stream has changed our approach to this platform and has helped in creating more awareness about our offerings. We can’t ignore either of those facts. The challenge for 2012 will be to figure out how to use our Google+ page, but first I think Google needs to figure out Google+ for brands. I don’t see a lot of focus there yet from Google so do not plan to spend much time there. At the best right now it’s an experiment in SEO. How are you going to handle new technologies that come out in 2012? Do you have an assessment plan or team in place?
  • LinkedIn: I am a long-time fan of LinkedIn for the B2B market and am very excited about 2012. The company has made some great changes to the corporate pages managed by companies and added a much needed dashboard for group managers. Both of these additions have been much needed and further enhance LinkedIn as a social business platform. We continue to leverage the groups and the private feature has allowed us to create a 24/7 virtual focus group environment where we talk with our customers. We will putting more emphasis on LinkedIn in the coming year and finding ways to better improve what we do for the benefit of our customers. How do you leverage the groups on LinkedIn? Is your company page a place where potential employees view you as a thought leader? How do you get others in your organization involved in LinkedIn?
  • Video: We do have a YouTube presence, but our video strategy continues to focus on bringing people to our location. Our website continues to be populated with video content in a number of places and videos allow us to visually tell our story through our spokespeople, customers and thought leaders. We’ll continue to build content that includes video as a key component and through our social platforms bring this content to our followers. How are you leveraging videos? What is your distribution plan? Do you use video to complement content?
  • Metrics: I’ve always believed that in order to manage content you have to know what is happening. So metrics and measurement continue to play a very active part of what we do and this will continue to be the trend for us in 2012. We have a number of tools that we use that include both qualitative and quantitative metrics for us to better understand what we are doing. Are you measuring the right information? How are you making decisions based on your data?
  • Experiment: We did a lot in 2011 to try new things and apply new technologies. For example, we integrated Facebook comments onto our digital magazine, started using Google+ brand pages, launched our Weibo account in China, and made several changes to our LinkedIn company profile. In the coming year we will continue to do the same and experiment where it makes sense. New technologies and enhancements are now the norm and finding ways to leverage them will be a challenge. How do you stay on top of the latest information? Do you have a social team to review and plan for new initiatives? How do you prioritize what to implement and where to hold off?
  • A Social Business: In 2011, we continued to integrate our social media with our business. One of the best posts I’ve read on this topic is from David Armano and Demystifying Social Business. When I started using social media at the company in 2007 it very much was a silo channel for us, but in the past year we have made great strides as an organization to integrate it throughout the company. That will continue in 2012 with our sales force, marketing activities and with our employees. How do you communicate your social initiatives internally? Have you implemented any training or education programs? Do you have social guidelines for employees and if so when was the last time you reviewed it?

The coming year promises to be another exciting year for communicators. We will not only face a global economy that has numerous challenges for our businesses, but we are being inundated with new and various tools to communicate with our stakeholders. Finding the balance between those two will help determine success for each of our enterprises and I wish you all the best of luck.

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Social Clutter or Social Clarity?

The past year has been a year of more dashboards, more ways to measure, more apps, more blogs and just more of more. And it’s all happening in real-time. So how can we keep track of what we need to keep track of without losing track of things to track? In fact, there’s so much content that we now call wading through it all content curation.

What do you see? Clutter or potential content?

From our standpoint, we tend to have a lot of information to review and manage; check out our Twitter feed to get an idea of the vast array of topics we need to cover. In order to manage all that’s going on in our world here are my thoughts on what works for me:

  • Use a Social Platform: We use Hootsuite and StockTwits for similar and different reasons, but they both work well for us. The reality is there is just no way you can manage finding and reading the content you need and a social platform brings to you the items you need. In addition, most of these now offer a mobile app as well so that you can use while you are away from your desk. The mobile apps tend not to offer the same robust functionality of the desktop versions, but they are good enough to get the job done.
  • Review Content Regularly. While time consuming, reviewing the sources your following and reading the content will you keep your sources fresh. I often add sources based on news cycles and trends in order to help me stay on top of what’s happening right now that we need to know. This is probably the most difficult part of the process but also the most important. Twitter lists in my opinion are the best resource for you in order to do this. I also still rely on RSS feeds and Google Reader. By having both of these tools I can cover just about every news source and person that I need to follow.
  • Research Your Audience. Again, another obvious observation, but how often do you review a news outlet on Facebook to look for inspiration? Or do you take time to look at a few days worth of your most important Twitter followers?  Take the time to learn from them — what they post and how often — and decide how you need to make adjustments.
  • Make Time. Easier said than done, but if you take a little bit of time each day or week to review how you read and distribute content as well as the tools you (may) need you will get better at it. Once you find a routine it does get easier.

What makes this so difficult to control is the rate at which things are changing. If you think you can get into a routine with content curation you’re wrong. There is no cruise control, which makes this a very demanding art to master. What you need to really do is get organized. While my desk wouldn’t show my great organization skills, I have become quite good at organizing my online content.

Perhaps the best advice is to just make sure you step away and let the world go by at times. Don’t ever rule out taking time for yourself away from the digital domains where we tend to reside today. I’ve often found that some of my best ideas for online content and content management come from writing in my Moleskine while grabbing a coffee — or even dumping a box of my son’s Legos on the floor and taking a photo.

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