Editor’s note: It is amazing how timeless the concept of tipping points are. We mostly recognize these as trends in modern society. However, every revolution in business, transportation and elsewhere in life have had core elements throughout the centuries. Ken boils it down to some key concepts – and the one we concur with most strongly is understanding the industry from within. While financial services is not unique in being complex to the outside view (think healthcare, nuclear energy, et al) – insider’s knowledge propels new services in a more compelling way. The outsiders who have succeeded in our business have been those who invested in building deep domain expertise through hiring and education. Otherwise, the effort can be faltering.
Geoffrey Moore’s book Crossing the Chasm can be found on the desks of nearly every high-tech marketer. In the book, Moore describes in detail the typical technology adoption cycle–from the “Innovators” that help define a market all the way to the “Laggards” that are forced to adopt due to market pressures. Moore’s premise is that in most industries the period at which a market truly comes of age is when it crosses the “the Chasm” from niche usage among a group of early adopters to mass-market adoption at which point the technologies are frequently considered sufficiently mature and stable for an audience of pragmatic and discerning buyers.
At Socialware, we feel we’re at the precipice of a similar moment within the financial services industry. There’s no question social media has fundamentally disrupted how we communicate.. As the advisor-client relationship has bled into these new channels, so too has firms’ and regulators’ perception of social media usage. What’s clearer than ever is that every firm is now using or actively exploring social media as a core marketing channel and opportunity for advisors to build relationships with clients; yet, there remains a significant need for technologies to help them formulate strategies that provide the organization and employees a structured, compliant and measureable way to utilize social in a productive manner.
Of course, as with every tipping point you can expect the inevitable stream of vendors entering the market promising soon-to-be-released functionality and touting industry expertise, only to under deliver.
Selecting the Right Partner for Social Media Success
As your organization is evaluating potential technology providers to help your social media marketing and compliance needs, you should consider the following questions:
- How well does the provider understand financial services specifically both from a regulatory perspective as well as the unique needs of advisors?
- Does the provider’s technology scale? Does it offer flexibility in terms of compliance policy enforcement and/or custom-defined rules depending on your organization’s risk profile? Does the provider have experience supporting both small businesses as well as thousands of individual advisors?
- How much training is required? Does the tool require advisors to use a portal-based system or can they continue using the social networks natively with appropriate guardrails in place?
- Does the provider offer capabilities built specifically for each of the various parts of the organization that social media touches (e.g. advisors and support staff, compliance officers, marketing teams, etc.)?
- What type of relationship does the provider have with the social networks and regulatory bodies? Is the provider’s product roadmap aligned with the technology enhancements and changes of the social networks as well as the ever-changing regulatory landscape?
As the market transitions from early adopters and small-scale pilot programs to large-scale, enterprise-grade deployments, you should consider your organizational makeup and unique needs as you decide which technologies are the best fit for your business. In an industry in which the adage “time is money” rings especially true, it’s worth spending time to dive beyond what you’re being sold to what is being delivered.