We’ve all heard the horror stories of how brands take a step back or are destroyed by a brief lapse of common sense and poor judgment. This holds true for advisors at a time when they can’t possibly risk a breakdown of trust. Stories of advisor misconduct run rampant in the news across the country, resulting in a negative perception toward the profession as a whole. According to the “CFA Institute and Edelman Investor Trust Study” (image below), Investors value trust over many other attributes. While I understand that this refers to asset and investment managers, I believe the same holds true for all advisor/client relationships.
How does this relate to your personal or professional brand? The biggest risk to your brand is YOU! As many advisors continue to embrace social media, this risk of breaking down trust increases with each and every post you share across your platforms. At any point, you run the risk of YOUR actions having a negative impact on your clients and prospects perception of you and their level of trust. It only takes a few seconds of poor judgment to break down years of effort building a credible brand reputation. REMEMBER: everything you do online could potentially be seen by your clients or prospects (that includes your personal Facebook page). I’ve seen some off-color remarks or jokes on the personal Facebook pages of advisors who thought their profiles were hidden from the public.
How do you avoid a potential mishap on Social Media and protect yourself from yourself? Follow these quick tips before posting to your professional or personal profiles.
- If you’ve had alcohol, put the mobile device down!
Refrain from posting pictures, videos, and comments on your social media channels (both personal and professional) if you have had a few alcoholic beverages. Although this may seem like common sense, some often forget that these activities typically do not lead to any trust building efforts.
- Controversy typically does not build trust!
Most people are smart enough to know that talking about controversial topics at work is not a good idea. However, in the online world in which we live and the transparency that it brings, posting these topics on your social channels should be avoided as well. However, if you really want to post something controversial (i.e. think of the equal opportunity employer disclaimer: race, color, religion, creed, sex, marital status, national origin, disability, age, veteran status, on-the-job injury, sexual orientation, political affiliation or belief), you had better make sure that you know your audience. What might not be offensive to you may be offensive to someone else. Keep in mind that your audience is not limited to your friends on Facebook (for example). When someone you know “likes or comments” on your post, it typically shows up on their timeline which all of their friends may see as well (and the snowball begins!)
- Know the objective of the post!
You should know why you are posting something. What is the intended result? If you can’t answer the question, maybe you should rethink why you are posting it at all.
Think twice before making a post. Everything you do online should be driving toward the achievement of your goals. Don’t be afraid of social media, but also give it the respect that it deserves. It has the power to elevate your brand and build trust, however one false move and it could swiftly swing the pendulum in the opposite direction. The downfall of most brands online has nothing to do with their products and services. From what I have seen, the downfall is the result of one person’s actions!