Sunday, February 26, 2012

What the "s" in social media really stands for

“Superfluous,” some argued just three years ago when we presented our first social media seminar to clients and colleagues. Some sceptics argued that Facebook, Twitter and even LinkedIn would never gain critical mass when it came to communication with investors, advisers or asset consultants.
“Scary,” and an unnecessary open door to public criticism, others said.
Some sceptics became converts as we ran those social media seminars, and they started on a journey that today sees them using content marketing and social channels successfully as part of their overall marketing and PR program.
I’d make a strong case that the “s” in social media stands for “same same but different.” 
As we work with clients developing social media capability, one truism has become a touchtone in our consulting practice.
The execution may be (very) different but the principles are the same.
The “same” is that great communication is still grounded in understanding the context, knowing the audiences and saying something worth listening to – in the audience’s judgement, rather than our own.
In reputation management, proactive positive PR, or in managing issues or a crisis, best practice offline is still best practice online. It just has to be executed fundamentally differently.
The “different” is usually faster, with greater transparency and more engagement. And of course messages are being delivered via very different channels. Yes, the medium does become the message. Or worse, the absence of the medium (let’s say you’re not using Twitter yet and everyone else is) becomes the message.
Once upon a time we were using faxes, lots of paper, telephones and briefings to reach audiences such as employees, journalists and government. Now we’re using Yammer, Twitter, Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn and blogs. The channels are different, and yes, they’ve changed the messages but strategy, process and creative are still needed and largely similar.
Three years ago when we ran our first social media seminars we talked about whether there was a business case for social media. At the time I suggested it was like websites in financial services in the 90s – by the time we had a business case we’d be the only one in town without one.
Financial services is now well past the social media tipping point.
Not having a website now is inconceivable. So too is not managing your reputation in social media. 
This post was first published in PRognosis, the BlueChip client communique on 16 February 2012

Friday, February 24, 2012

Why financial services suddenly had a social media conversion

It's been a while since we first started the conversation. And last year suddenly the dialogue changed complexion.

Instead of saying:

"Really? No it's just another Gen Y fad" or

"Sure, that will work for Coke but not for our (insert financial services brand here) audiences" or

"I don't think we need twitter or facebook. Not really our audience"

...many senior executives started to ask...

"How do we get there?"

And what drove the change? Well there was carrot and stick I suspect - from above, below and outside.

Before I start sounding too much like a Dr Seuss book, let me explain.

Many times recently I have heard (forgive the paraphrasing if you recognise yourself):

1. The Board want to know what we are doing about social media
2. Our staff feel we really should be using social media / using social media more
3. We had this issue that started on twitter/facebook/on a blog/online but we couldn't deal with it properly because we're really not set up to.

And so now we have social media religion. Yes, it's a touch feverish but doubtless that will settle down after the first blush of conversion wears off and social becomes the 'new new new normal'.

We've had the "new normal", post GFC. We've had the "new new normal" of volatility and GFC Mark II threats. Now I'm calling a similar major shift - the new new new normal.

Okay it's kind of hokey jargon but long term, social media will fundamentally change how we communicate as people and organisations far more than a couple of bouts with liquidity issues, bank failures and sovereign debt issues.

Possibly it already has.

If so, most in financial services are playing catch up.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Four economists worth listening to...and one you MUST hear

While I tweet and blog from events I usually don't re-publish the subsequent content. The Financial Standard Chief Economist's breakfast (see Kaitlin Walsh's summary in the post below) is worth making an exception for.

If you're looking for a little light economic-style entertainment I can highly recommend Tim Harcourt's presentation.
For a global view check out the presentation by Principal Global Investors' Bob Baur. Bob is a regular visitor to Australia, and as we've found (PGI are a client), in great demand from media outlets keen to hear his particular take on the global economy and what that might mean for Australia. It helps that he has a better-than-usual set of economic jokes. And no, I'm not referring to PIIGS, BRICs, houses made of straw or the big bad wolf!
Finally, Saul Eslake, on productivity, blew me away. Breathless as that sounds, the data he presented was a wake-up call to Australian employers, the education sector and government. OK, I'm late catching on - Saul and others have been talking productivity for some time. If you're not familiar with the subject it's very worth a quick look at some of his slides. The implications are serious for Australia's future.
Richard Gibbs (Maquarie Group) and Clifford Bennett (White Crane Group) were also good value.

Only got time for one? Definately Saul Eslake.