I was recently asked this and I think the answer is no, not yet. Arguably there are good examples such as @pensionsmonkey on Twitter (sometimes technical and hot-off-the-press, sometimes wickedly irreverent). But such examples are personal, not across a whole organisation, so I’m going to discount them.
“Social media is often done much better by individuals. … SIPP providers’ customers are showing them how.”
There’s a funny disjoint between what people do with social media as themselves and what they do – or, more importantly, don’t – when they get to work. That’s not new and it’s not exclusive to SIPPs or financial services. Social media is often done much better by individuals. One of my favourite examples is Dave Carroll’s “United breaks guitars”: hilarious, viral (over 9.7 million views), and cuttingly brilliant. Dave vs United turned out rather like David vs Goliath!
In November 2010 Marketing Week carried research results from a B2B survey in which the gap between people’s own use of social media (e.g. LinkedIn [63%] or Twitter [50%]) contrasts sharply with corporate practice: “Does your organisation have a social media strategy?” 28% Yes; 70% No; 2% Don’t know (so if they do, it isn’t working!).
So what’s going on? Compliance over-drive, I believe.
SIPP providers have been regulated for over 3 years now, extending the reach of compliance and making them think about all sorts of things like reporting, monitoring, controls, systems, procedures and so on. These things are good in that they make the businesses robust. But they shouldn’t mean people can’t talk to each other.
Social media doesn’t fit a rigid compliance-driven procedure. You can’t effectively submit tweets for formal sign-off: it would take too long and wouldn’t be scaleable. I think that’s the wrong way of looking at this anyway. Not everything is signed off in advance: phone calls aren’t. Social media looks much more like a conversation than a press release. There are no model conversations, they aren’t signed off in advance and they don’t follow a script.
We all know there are risks and their magnitude can be big on social platforms. So by all means be selective when deciding who’s involved. Provide thorough training and careful guidance on dos and don’ts (keep it short so people can remember it!). Monitor closely and have refresher sessions. But don’t lose sight of the positives! And there’s going to have to be delegation: the board members don’t pick up the calls on reception and nor can they do the tweeting and posting.
Financial planners get social media: they are all over it. There are great examples on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Ecademy – you name it! They make it work because they know their stuff and they know their boundaries. They know that they need to promote their businesses and keep in touch with people and ideas. That imperative helps them keep it simple and get on with it!
There’s still a great opportunity out there and SIPP providers’ customers are showing them how to take it. I predict change in 2011.