When it’s not a contribution

I don’t mean to judge you. If you recognize an item on this list as something you do, perhaps you have good intentions. Perhaps, contrary to my opinion, it is helpful to someone. Perhaps you simply do it without thinking.

All of these are things I’ve done myself, and yet they make me cringe now. I share this list in the hope that you’ll find it helpful and avoid the mistakes I’ve made. 

A partial list

I often tell people to “frame it as a contribution,” by which I mean the things you share should be be helpful to someone in some way. Here are ten of the more egregious ways I failed to follow my own advice.

Automated contributions -  You signed up for some on-line service and it starts spewing out how many people followed you on Twitter, that you Liked a particular video, or that you achieved a new level on a game few have heard of.

Impersonal contributions #1 - You hit a button to connect with someone and offer no explanation as to who you are, why you want to connect, or how the other person might benefit. 

Impersonal contributions #2 - You hit a button to share the latest news or blog post without adding why you’re sharing it or why others might care.

Complaints - You come across something that irritates you and you share it, amplifying your discontent in exchange for a feeling of validation that may come from others agreeing with you. 

Burdens #1 - You introduce people to each other via email without asking them first, thus forcing them to follow up or risk the embarrassment of seeming unresponsive. 

Burdens #2 - You send lengthy emails with requests hidden deep inside them, or  share lengthy articles without explanation.

Burdens #3 - You ask people you barely know vague questions via email or text - "How are you?" - that are just crude disguises to lure them into a conversation. 

Burdens #4 - You overwhelm someone with “helpfulness,” sharing a wild array of things - links, videos, articles, comments, feedback - that they didn’t ask for and can’t possibly keep up with. 

Purpose-less contributions - Your posts of food or cats or kids are too frequent (unless you’re in a food or cat or kid community).

Narcissism - Me, me, me, me. While sharing something you’ve done can be genuinely helpful, talking only about you and your accomplishments verges on narcissistic and creepy. 

I could go on, but you get the point. The theme throughout this list is that you make such mistakes when don’t listen. You think of sharing as a megaphone, amplifying who you are but at the expense of being sensitive to the people around you. Or, worse, you don’t think at all. Like the irritated driver honking in traffic, you see something and offer something without a thought as to how the other person might receive it.

The one technique you need

The trick to “framing it as a contribution” is to know that “helpful” is in the eye of the recipient. So to be genuinely helpful, you need to reflect and practice empathy, to put yourself in the position of the other person. 

Who might find this helpful? 

Why should they? 

How might I feel if I received this?

What’s my real motivation in sharing this?

Working Out Loud Circles make it easy to practice this. Week after week, you get the chance to make a wide range of contributions - from appreciation to visible work to vulnerability - with genuine generosity and empathy until it becomes a habit and a mindset. 

Over time, you develop a short pause before you send something, a tiny moment of reflection that can make a fundamental difference in what you share and how it’s received. It takes practice, but it’s worth it.

The engineer who Works Out Loud

Vincent has been working in a big German company for more than a decade, mostly in a manufacturing plant and now in a quality management role. Our first interaction was when he sent me a message on LinkedIn, telling me he was enjoying the book.

Later, he joined a Working Out Loud Circle, and he wrote me again to say he “can already see some improvements.” I thanked him, replied with some questions, and that led to an ongoing exchange. With his permission, I wanted to share some of his answers below.

As you read them, notice how his original goal is quite simple: he wants to use some of the new collaboration tools at work. Yet as he takes steps towards his goal - practicing making contributions and deepening relationships at work - he sees how he can apply his new habits and mindset to other goals. 

His last sentence is full of hope and possibility - and confidence. 

Why did you join a WOL Circle? 

I joined because I wanted to learn and improve myself as a professional and a person. I learned about it and as I was disconnected from social media (latecomer for many good and bad reasons) I thought in the first place that it could help me to reconnect (Which it did!).  

What was your goal in your circle? 

My goal is: 'I want to set up a personal blog, which enables me to share my work with others, to give back to communities that will enable me to connect with people I don't know yet.’

What did you expect to get out of it? 

I was expecting to deepen my social media understanding and how to use it in a professional setting. Also to have my own blog to share work and ideas that comes up.  I started a personal blog on our internal company social network. At first, I thought about sharing only technical content I created to help others improve quicker and avoid the traps I've been in. Some other ideas are starting to come up…It’s interesting to see how it develops, how ideas pop up all alone.  

I also created connections I didn't have…and reconnected with people. So it's great, because I start to have a solid experience with social media, where I was feeling lost before, didn't know what to do with it and how to behave. 

How does this apply at work? How might it help you be a better engineer?

I'm in a department of quality experts, mostly much older. An official target of this job is to improve the processes, challenge them, and introduce social media for collaboration with the other departments. 

That's where WOL kicks in. I will have to set communities and improve the collaboration between QM and the plants that applies the standards defined by the department. We also need to speak about the standards within our division, post them in our blog, and collaborate with other divisions with the same specialties. I think of promoting it to the Deployment of Business Excellence team in our division. It would be a fantastic complement to introduce social media for the managers. Also to promote WOL for team initiatives inside my department.  

I personally consider that when you share your knowledge, your work with others, in the end you are helping others with your work, then becoming more sure of your knowledge. It allows you to take a step back and improve your practice. It will allow me to participate, confront my ideas with others, and then create a 'virtuous circle' of questioning myself. Keeps me humble, feet on the ground, then more open minded. I really think that networking and sharing makes you a better 1. Person, 2. Professional. 

What might you do differently in the future? Asked another way...what changed for you or about you? 

I came from this restricted vision to something broader. For example, I post other things than my work. I post thoughts, advice, experiences. On a personal aspect, I'm less worried to post my thinking publicly, to praise the work of others, to create contacts and invite these people in my network when I feel I know them. A clear enabler to the improvement of my network through social media and 'gift' sharing.  

In the future? I'll extend this to my utilization of social media out of my company. I will try to become a circle moderator, as I think I can handle it. Also, I'll surely join other circles, but perhaps with goals more connected to my personal (selfish?) aspirations. That changed for me, I have personal wills that are sleeping, time will come when I'll need to wake them.  

Why Socrates thought writing was a bad idea

I hadn’t expected Socrates to appear in a book titled, Personal Connections in the Digital Age. But there he was, on page 25. 

The author, Nancy Baym, was quoting one of his famous dialogs in The Phaedrus, from about 370 BC. He was telling a story about the invention of writing, and I was surprised at how one of the leading thinkers in history could have such an opinion:

“This discovery of yours will create forgetfulness in the learners’ souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves.

The specific which you have discovered is an aid not to memory, but to reminiscence, and you give your disciples not truth, but only the semblance of truth; they will be hearers of many things and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing; they will be tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without the reality.”

Socrates wasn’t wrong. (The way we use our capacity for memory has changed fundamentally from the days we recited 12,000-line poems by heart.) But he also couldn’t foresee the wide range of benefits that came from a different form of communication.

It turns out that’s how we generally react to almost all new forms of communications, whether it’s the printing press, telegraph, telephones, television, email, texting, and now the Internet in general. When I introduced an enterprise social networks at work, many colleagues in our global, 100,000-person company longed for the day when “people would just talk to each other.”

“Throughout the history of electronic communications, some have celebrated the ability to form new relationships across time and space, but others have seen it…as offering pale substitutes for authentic connection.”

I’m no wiser than Socrates. I recently caught myself proclaiming, for example, that “Snapchat is ridiculous!” without ever having tried it or endeavoring to learn why so many people find it useful. I’m horrified at how my children use their phones. “It’s addictive!” “It’s ruining their attention span!” “It’s rude!”

Is that true? Maybe. But it’s also true that the constant interactions they have with each other and with their friends have created a feeling of genuine closeness and familiarity I can’t deny.

The lesson for me applies to life in general: Be open to possibilities. Approach new things with more curiosity and less judgment.

I think it’s time for another session with my favorite social media adviser, the one who helped me get started on Instagram. She’s turning 12 next week. 

Socrates

Working Out Loud over email or coffee

“You can’t do that!” he said.

I was explaining to a small audience that Working Out Loud doesn’t require you to use social media. It helps, of course, but I told them you could use traditional channels, including email and talking over coffee, to share your work in a way that helps others. The person next to me objected, somewhat emphatically. 

Here’s why he’s missing the point, and why it matters. 

The real reason you Work Out Loud…

There are many benefits to using social platforms, whether it’s your social intranet at work or Twitter, LinkedIn, and the many other public platforms. Sharing your work there amplifies who you are and what you do, extends your reach, and expands your set of contributions and how you can offer them.

But using social platforms is not the point of Working Out Loud. Rather, using the tools is in service of much more important things: deeper relationships and feelings of self-efficacy, even happiness. It’s why I extended the concept of Working Out Loud to include these five elements

  1. Relationships
  2. Generosity
  3. Visible Work
  4. Purposeful Discovery
  5. Growth Mindset

The real reason you Work Out Loud is that deeper relationships help you be more effective and give you access to more ideas and opportunities. Each step you take in building those relationships helps you feel more empowered and connected, tapping into your intrinsic motivation.

…and why your organization wants you to

The real reason your organization wants you to Work Out Loud is not to have a more active intranet. It’s to have a workforce and culture that are more open, connected, and collaborative, to create a place where work is more effective and fulfilling. 

Ultimately, Working Out Loud helps improve how people relate to each other and to the work they do. 

You can see this in these survey results, for example, from an organization that has close to 100 Working Out Loud Circles and asked participants about their experience. (A survey at another company in a different country produced similar results.)

  • 98% said it helps the organization develop into “a highly connected company in the digital age.”
  • 91% said it helped them build networks that are more effective and purposeful.
  • 91% said it enriched their daily lives.

Start where you are

So why is it important that people that people can Work Out Loud over email and coffee? Because that’s what most people are already comfortable doing. 

I was at a corporate event where Working Out Loud was the topic, and there was a demonstration of the company’s social intranet. The young woman began enthusiastically. “The first thing you do when you’re Working Out Loud,” she said, “is write a blog.”

I winced. The percentage of people of comfortable blogging is in the single digits, and more than 90% of those who start a blog abandon it within a year. By exhorting people to start there, you’ve alienated the vast majority of those you’re trying to help.

Instead, help people start where they are. If you’re already active on their organization’s corporate network, or you’re using Twitter and LinkedIn, that’s great. But if those things scare you off, then shrink the change and start by using what you’re comfortable using.

This way, you’re more likely to make progress, gradually developing the habit of Working Out Loud. Over time, you’ll start to frame your goals in terms of other people and contributions you can make to them. You'll cultivate the mindset of the five elements. You may even explore the use of other tools.

Small steps, practiced over time, with feedback and peer support, can lead to wonderful places. But only if you take that first step.

The most surprising thing about this list of 25 “exceptional talents building today’s social businesses”

EIU 25 Social Business LeadersThis week, the Economist Intelligence Unit published a list and I was on it. That was one surprise. I was also surprised at the range of contributions represented. There were people who founded companies, created famous social media campaigns, and even a few trying to change their firms from the inside, like me.

The most surprising thing for me, though, was who was missing.

Some of the most significant changes in social business

The list is made up of people “who are successfully applying social technologies, principles and strategies within organisations around the world.” At least 7 of the 25 people are involved with social media and marketing. But the range of contributions goes well beyond that.

“Social business is about much more than social media. A social business is an organisation whose culture and practices encourage networks of people—employees, partners, customers and others—to create business value, and, ultimately, increase revenue and profits.”

There are people on this list who are genuinely reshaping how we think about business.

  • Juliana Rotich is a co-founder of Ushahidi, “a not-for-profit digital platform that connects and gives a voice to communities facing social, political or medical duress in Kenya and beyond.”
  • Tony Hsieh founded Zappos, the online shoe company sold to Amazon for $1 billion, and created an iconic customer service culture.
  • Lin Bin founded Xiaomi, whose radical approach to openness helped the company become China’s third-largest smartphone maker in only four years.

The social media marketers are changing things too. Take a look at this video from TD Bank, where Wendy Arnott is head of social media and digital marketing: Sometimes you just want to say thank you #TDThanksYou. One of the commenters noted: “This is the first time a bank commercial had made me cry.” I watched it 3 times.

My accomplishments are much more modest than Juliana, Tony, or Lin and I’m not marketing to consumers around the world. But I do aspire to help millions of people find meaning and fulfillment at work, starting with the employees of a big German bank.

Why people I admire aren’t on the list

Changing any organization requires passion, persistence, and luck. When I started exploring social business ideas, I met people who were already changing their companies like I hoped to change mine. They were smart and innovative and years ahead of me. But they’re not on this list and that was my biggest surprise in seeing it. They shaped my thinking in so many ways but simply didn't have some of the luck I had.

Their company/division/group was re-organized. 

Their sponsor left.

They were forced to change platforms, derailing their entire effort.

The experiments they tried didn’t work.

They got tired.

The truth is, if you’re trying to change how things work, you probably won’t. So many good people I know simply couldn’t continue on the path they started on. But I hope they try again. My friends involved in creating social businesses have the passion and capabilities to bring about great changes in the world, and we need them to persevere.

The next list

When I think of the challenges facing people trying to change complex, emergent systems like corporations, I think of Margaret Wheatley’s So Far From Home. She writes about persevering in the face of those challenges – not for the ultimate outcomes but for the goodness of the work itself, for the people involved, and for the chance, however slim, of ultimately creating a better future.

“We need to continue to persevere in our radical work, experimenting with how we can work and live together to evoke human creativity and caring. Only time will tell if our efforts contribute to a better future. We can’t know this, and we can’t base our work or find our motivation from expecting to change this world.”

There will be other lists in the future and I hope to see more of my friends on them. By then, I may have helped many more people or I may not appear on lists at all. All I know is I will have tried, and will keep trying.

Social media at work. Really?


The Ostrich Strategy Photo credit: http://www.ostrichheadinsand.com/
Imagine you’re a salesperson at a big global firm and you’re paid well into 6 figures. You’re at your office, about to call a client, and you want to research her first. Who’s she connected to? Where has she worked before? What’s she up to these days?

Now imagine your firm won’t let you do any of that research on their office computer (but it’s okay <wink wink> to use your own phone to do it). And imagine your firm spends millions on training but not a nickel on how you can effectively use the most powerful client research tools on the planet.

That’s the state of social media at a lot of financial firms. Many firms block it. (You can’t even read content published by your own firm.) Most don’t train anyone. Most aren’t sure of what to do next. And most have their heads firmly planted in the sand, pretending everything’s okay.

This week, at a small event in London hosted by the Dachis Group, I got a chance to talk with a few other firms as to why that is and what we can do about it.

Risk, Responsibility, and Return

While some firms use social media for marketing, maybe even customer support, that only makes the lack of access and training more striking. For many firms the use of social media is limited to a few specialists sprinkled throughout the firm.

Perhaps the main reason for the lack of progress (at least in banks, pharmaceuticals, and other regulated firms) is that there’s too much risk. The rules are complicated (with plenty of gray areas) and so firms are confused about what they can do and say. Well-publicized missteps and scandals make them even more wary.

There’s also ambiguity as to who's responsible for helping business lines use the tools effectively. Instead, each team - marketing, recruiting, support - each figures out everything from scratch. For most businesses, that can be overwhelming and expensive.

Then there’s the money. What’s it worth? Without some clear benefits, it seems like a lot of real risk for uncertain rewards. And with no one assigned to figure it out firm-wide, it’s no wonder there’s little progress.

An approach we could all agree on

In discussing this with other firms, it seemed a good approach might be to sell different things to different audiences. To compliance, the argument is that “willful ignorance is not an option”. That they’d better fund an effort to sort out monitoring and training at a minimum or they’ll be at risk given people are increasingly using their own devices anyway.

For businesses, particularly sales, their best use of social media might not require posting at all. They can have the best rolodex they ever had by simply having read-only access to social media and some training on how to use it for client research.

We agreed that fear and greed can be a powerful combination.

Stepping back and moving forward

The discussion that night was strangely reassuring. Despite the lack of significant progress in using social media in financial firms, the absence of evangelism and the abundance of solid next steps made me feel there’s hope after all. After a lot of hype and little real results, most advocates of social media I spoke with agreed on some very sound, practical approaches:

  • They stopped talking about “social” at their firm and focused instead on the problems they were trying to solve.
  • They formed or sought to form a small center of excellence to sort out the tools, rules, and processes to make it easier for individual business lines to take their first step
  • They started with small projects and with people in business lines who were already advocates.
  • They positioned their social media work as simply part of a broader portfolio of communications and engagement as opposed to a distinct, disjoint effort.

It’s taking much longer than I expected for firms to help their people use social media effectively at work. But I’m more convinced than ever that it’s “when” and not “if”.

Your best use of social media may not require a single post

If you’re in a regulated firm, you’re still struggling with social media. Maybe your marketing department uses it, or you’ve read about a few examples in your industry. But for most of the individual businesses within your firm, you’ll quickly get mired in legal, compliance, data privacy, and data security issues before you can figure out who can post what.

So what if you could realize more value, with less risk, by never posting at all?

Why many firms block access

Over the past year, I’ve met with vendors that help financial services firms use social media. Most of our conversations focus on compliance requirements related to updating profiles, comments, messages, and likes.

You can be in a room with 20 people - lawyers, HR, compliance, technology, and business people - discussing questions such as “Are likes considered recommendations? Do they need to be pre-approved?”

It quickly gets complicated. Legal and compliance, already under siege, get increasingly nervous. And everyone is still uncertain if all this effort and risk has any appreciable return.

In the face of all of this, it’s no wonder that many firms simply block access.

Recently, though, I was talking with Pedro Barreda and Cameron Randolph from Socialware, and we talked about the value of just providing read-only access to larger numbers of people.

Embracing the 90-9-1 

Throughout much of the internet, you’ll notice a reasonably consistent participation inequality.  The “90–9–1 rule”, suggests that “1% of people create content, 9% edit or modify that content, and 90% view the content without contributing.”

Overwhelmingly, the people in your firm will be more comfortable lurking - simply reading LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook - than posting content.

Instead of fighting that tendency, you can use it to your advantage by focusing on read-only use cases.

4 examples

While most use cases limit social media to a handful of people in marketing or support, these are applicable for many people across different divisions.

Monitoring: advice you’ll hear over and over is that the first thing you should do when using social media is listen. This isn’t just for brand communications, but for any business and any function. Knowing what people are saying about your firm, about your competitors, and even what your competitors are saying about themselves, has always been important. Social media just makes it easier than ever.

News: Increasingly, people are getting their news via their social filter and they’re also reporting it on social networks. Many different groups - from trading to business continuity - can benefit from an advantage in being alerted to news more quickly. So they should be monitoring Twitter for news as it’s often reported there before professional news channels.

Recruiting: Companies have long been looking for alternatives to exorbitant recruiting fees, using everything from employee referral fees to alumni networks. But why build your own network when those alumni - and millions of other professionals - are already on LinkedIn and Facebook? And when both your HR department and your employees can easily tap their networks on those platforms?

Lead generation: Every broker is looking for potential clients. And those clients are on LinkedIn and looking for advice. Here are some great statistics from a recent article titled “High Net Worth clients prefer LinkedIn”:

Cogent Research...suggests that of the more than 5 million high-net-worth investors [American and Canadian investors with more than $100,000 in investable assets] that are currently using social media almost 75% picked LinkedIn as the social media platform they use the most for investment research.

The reason for this is respondents felt LinkedIn created a “trusted platform for financial service companies” to engage with HNW investors.

Furthermore, among “ultra affluent” investors [more than $5 million in investable assets] investment research was identified as the top reason they visit the LinkedIn site. And when compared to the average investor, the ultra affluent are 37% more likely to trust information on their LinkedIn network and 157% more likely to trust articles that are shared on LinkedIn.”

Start building a capability

April Rudin, who specializes in marketing in the high net-wroth space, writes:

“The best and easiest social media platform for wealth management firms, private banks and others to begin on is LinkedIn. LinkedIn's user interface is more familiar and it's an obvious business platform which makes it the path of least resistance.”

That’s a great way to think about it. Instead of stumbling on all of the complex cases, find examples and modes of access that make it easy for people - both individuals and compliance departments - to get started.

More and more, your firm’s customers will want meaningful interaction using social media.

“53% of HNW investors say they expect to receive relevant and timely content from social media platforms and 45% said they would value real-time interaction and conversation with an advisor or other investors.”

It’s time to take some steps and begin learning how to do that.

Compliance just said yes to social media. Now what?

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

Every time I have one of these conversations, I recommend “Social Media ROI” by Olivier Blanchard.

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.”

The ABCs of social media in financial services

Increasingly, banks and other finance firms want to use LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to engage customers. They see more of their peers doing it but, in their own firm, they’re not sure how to get past compliance. “We want access to social media but we’re blocked. How do we get approval?”

To get to “yes,” you’ll need to answer 3 basic questions.

“Are we allowed to do it?” 

Firms typically have a policy (or are drafting one) that spells out who can do what using social media. (Here’s a fantastic compendium of such policies.)

Before your firm lets you post for business, they have to have a way to enforce their policy. Should posts be pre-approved? Can individuals use “Like” buttons? Are direct messages or comments allowed?

A few years ago, it was too difficult to pick and choose which functions people could use. So, the only choice was to block access except for a select few. Now, though, a range of software options from companies like Socialware and Actiance provide the kind of fine-grained control you need. By sitting between the user and LinkedIn, for example, they can present the user with only the LinkedIn features they’re allowed to use, and so enforce the policy in a very practical way.

“Before someone posts, can we review it first?”

The regulations largely center on preventing individuals from disclosing information they shouldn’t. (This brief paper from FINRA is a good starting point. It was confusing in a number of ways, though, so updates are being considered.)

All traditional recommendations and advertisements are carefully scrutinized by compliance before being disclosed to the public. And the same rules apply for much of the content published on social media channels. It’s hard to separate, for example, a research analyst hitting “Like” on a company’s Facebook page from outright recommending a “BUY.” And a broker’s profile on LinkedIn is seen as just another form of advertising.

We’ve had supervisory software from companies like Autonomy for years and now these products, as well as newer ones, are including content on social media. So, for example, when a broker updates her profile on LinkedIn, that update is routed to a compliance supervisor who can review it before it’s published.

While finding moderation tools may be easier, though, finding the people to operate the tools is the hard part. For most firms, having to review more content means having more people. Presenting a business case to justify such expense - and then fighting for headcount - is where you’ll struggle.

“Can we capture whatever people posted?”

This is the easiest question to answer. Every financial firm already has one or more digital safes. Used at first for email, then instant messages, these safes are now expanding to become the repository of all electronic communications, including those on social media channels.

All the tools already mentioned provide ways to capture content on the public channels and route that content to your firm’s repository. Then you can do routine reporting to check for policy violations or other issues. It's a matter of integration instead of innovation.

Now what?

The issue, then, isn’t about someone in compliance simply saying “yes” or “no.” It’s whether your firm has the capacity to enforce policy, moderate certain content, and retain records for reporting.

Though the tools and practices are still evolving rapidly, it’s increasingly clear that “we’re regulated” is no longer an excuse for doing nothing.

Now, once you get to “yes,” you can move on to the truly difficult part (covered in next week’s post): actually using your newly-approved social media access in support of a specific business objective.