How the Financial Services Industry CAN use Social Media

By February 24, 2011Communications

If you don’t already know this, I’ll tell you: people who work in investments or financial services aren’t “allowed” to use social media. The industry, as a whole, frowns upon it because of liability, security and privacy issues.

Not willing to be the one and only industry left completely out of the social loop, some of the companies offering these services have established some creative workarounds to enable their staff to use social networking sites to generate what amounts to cold calling lists.

I’ve seen the “social media policy” for one of these companies, and some of the tactics encouraged are counter to the culture of social media enough to make my hair stand on end. I had an encounter of this kind personally, and it left a bad taste in my mouth ever after.

But, fear not financial people — there’s a good solution to this conundrum, that follows the social media rules of engagement and can help you build your business. (And there’s also a good reason why there’s a picture of a pie in this post.)

The way to successfully use social media is to focus your content on you as a person — what is it about you that’s interesting? Are you all about lacrosse or running? Do you brew beer or (as I do) bake pie? What can you do to brand yourself in your community, to become the guy/gal who [fill in the blank] that also works for “Merrill Jones” (not a real investment firm; duh).

If you can use social networking to develop relationships in your community as a human being and a member of your community, the people with whom you develop those relationships can and will become clients and referral sources over time — without you ever mentioning anything about financial services or investments online.

I don’t have the same issues (at all) as financial folk, but still have benefited from people knowing me as “the pie lady” only to discover that there’s much more to me than that. Sometimes the people who come in through the “pie door” end up clients or valuable referral sources. They always become friends.

People have relationships with people — not the “Merrill Joneses” of the world. Just something to remember, no matter what industry you’re in.