Social media is where the customers you need to reach are interacting not just the next generation of investors, but your current clients of all ages and strata. And the economics of these social media (blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube) are compelling they offer low cost-of-entry, relative ease-of-use and nearly immediate feedback.
Advisors who have embraced social as an important component of their marketing and service toolbox must monitor and manage the content they distribute. Social media archiving solutions bridge the gap between public social media platforms and the advisory practice. They collect and store postings and comments made by you and others on social media platforms and store the information in a readily accessible database. There are a variety of approaches to archiving and here we seek to review the ways in which this can be accomplished, along with the pros and cons of each approach.
While regulators have not completely caught up with the technology curve on social media, some clarity emerged over the last year 3 years. Specifically, FINRA and the SEC as well as some states have released guidance and/or notifications related to existing rules. These address areas such as:
- Social media content considered advertising (though not exclusively so this is primarily static data online like bios, backgrounds and profiles).
- Social interactions and messaging that qualify as correspondence such as Twitter direct messages and Facebook email.
- Interactive data on social, which is really the core of social media content; tweets, posts and status updates along with the subsequent comments.
Compliance professionals now have the necessary information to move forward with a social media archiving strategy.
Compliance is not the sole reason for maintaining a record of your social activities, though. Equally important is the market intelligence the archived social media data offer for your business. Listening is an important component of using social media effectively. Along with the content you create and contribute, hearing what your connections are saying and sharing provides valuable business intelligence. Through targeted searches, you will have the ability to:
- Find out what is said about your content and how it is shared
- Discover what is most important to your clients, prospects and other social connections
- Cultivate rapport and relationships with your connections
- Monitor and measure the effectiveness of social media on you and your business
You have multiple choices for archiving, and the right one is determined by the type of business you run and your use of social media. The most common approaches are:
- Hardware: computer equipment installed in your office
- Private Network: a closed social network where advisors invite clients to participate
- Software Proxy: combination of web- and locally-based software tools
- Web-based (SaaS, aka software as a service think Salesforce.com): Requires only a web browser on a computer or mobile device
All of these approaches offer compliance, surveillance, moderation and reporting capabilities at varying levels. Moderation is particularly important from a compliance perspective. Depending upon your regulatory requirements, some content needs pre-approval prior to publication on a blog or other social network. Moderation tools enable you to allow your users to create social content and submit it then you can use either automated or manual review tools to approve or deny it.
Blane Warrene is the senior vice president of client communications at RegEd and founder of Arkovi Social Media Archiving.