Do SIPP providers get social media?

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!).

Social media sharing

Share me!

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.


About sipphound

Chewing over pensions, saving and retirement issues. Sniffing around financial planning, personal finance, investing and behavioural influences. All personal opinions, no company represented and no advice given.
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2 Responses to Do SIPP providers get social media?

  1. Chris says:

    The distinction between personal and corporate social media is an important one. Many companies allow for individualised sub-accounts. Others manage single social media accounts (or multiple social media accounts on functional lines) but have the individuals identify themselves in each posting (I think that Hootsuite facilitates this). I think that financial services should be looking to other companies / industries for best practice of corporate social media – examples such as Dell and Starbucks spring to mind.

    Is there really a reason why tweets, for example, could not be signed off? I am thinking of a simple peer review, managed within a social media client. Turnaround times could be managed to within, say 30 minutes, failing which the tweet is released. I am not saying this would be a good thing, or a bad thing, but merely that it would be feasible.

    One thing corporates need to think about is who will own the social media asset when the individual leaves.

    • sipphound says:

      Thanks for your comments, Chris: interesting issues in there.

      Some companies will have social media stars they should be making use of. They may be industry names with an established PR profile, but not necessarily: they may simply be individuals with the right flair and instinct. Companies have previously had to think about how they will cope if their media personalities leave; now they need to include social media personalities in their planning.

      Your mention of accounts along functional lines reminds me of fundament questions such as who owns social media, what are the needs providers are looking to satisfy, why do they think social media is right way to satisfy them? It will be interesting to see the different uses SIPP providers come up with – as you say, there are many interesting examples from other industries.

      Compliance and sign-off need careful consideration. Some things won’t necessarily need compliance approval although a peer-review sense-check on anything going out in the public domain in the company’s name has to be sensible. Often material will receive compliance approval for use in other contexts; in future consideration of use in social media channels may need to be added to the approval process.

      All in all, with so many thoughts provoked, it’s tempting to write a follow up!

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