The ABCs of social media in financial services are about getting access. But the “D” of social media (as the estimable Josh Levine commented last week) is: “Does it make or save money for the company?”
In financial services, it’s so hard to get compliance to say “yes” that many businesses aren’t thinking through what they’ll do next.
Here’s how you can be different.
Put the Why before the How
The first thing you can do is to ask yourself how social media might relate to your specific business objectives.
“What problems are you trying to solve?”
“How would you measure success?
“Have would you tie activity on social media to commercial benefits?”
I find businesses are often so focused on access that their answer to these basic questions is “I don’t know.” Or something vague like “We’ll use it for marketing” or “Our competitors are doing it and we need to keep up.”
Your best guide
I confess to reading the book twice. The first time, I thought it was dull. I had just a general interest in social media at the time and was looking for more inspiring stories. The second time, though, I was advising specific businesses on specific use cases. Then the book was riveting.
Other books might inspire you. This one forces you to think through the details. It’s a comprehensive handbook meant for practitioners, covering topics ranging from monitoring to organizational models to specific measurements and reporting.
Blanchard sets the tone on very first page:
“Building a social media program for an organization is hard...it takes patience, long hours of intricate planning, and a razor-sharp focus on getting things right..behind every corporate success story in this space is a basic operational framework that places all the right elements in the right way and at the right time. Social media success doesn’t happen by accident. It is engineered.”
Careful, the How is messy.
But that engineering is difficult. Look at all those small companies in the Gartner Magic Quadrant. And that's just a fraction of them. The sheer newness of social media means that the tools are immature and still evolving, with many niche players and acquisitions.
And because the objectives and culture of each company (and often each business line) are different, your social media program has to be custom-tailored. While Blanchard’s book is an excellent guide, you simply can’t apply what works at other companies. You have to figure it out for yourself.
Fail cheap and early
To be effective, you’ll have to embrace the newness and uncertainty. You’ll have to learn - by doing - what works and what doesn’t.
It's important to take small steps while connecting your firm's social media practitioners so they can all share the learning. Within a large enterprise, this means individual businesses might attempt specific projects as small, thoughtful experiments. But, for the sake of the enterprise, all the businesses would be aware of these projects and their results so everyone could learn and build on them.
As Blanchard concludes in the afterword:
“It takes time, diligence, focus, and a lot of patience...You don’t have to build it all in one go....Experiment. Test. Build on what you learn...measure success and adapt as needed. That is ultimately how this works.”