Thursday, January 6, 2011

Social media challenge for superannuation companies

Scored some merit points yesterday, being recognised as the only one of four Twitter-recommended super funds with an active account i.e. that offered any content. This either makes me a genius or a fool, I haven't yet worked it out.

What it does show is that people notice and talk about it when companies enter the social media space and do nothing with it other than secure the real estate. In this instance, the question was raised about brand promise and authenticity on the part of the companies that held inactive accounts. While I think this is a long stretch, there is no doubt that in the minds of those who use these channels, inactivity reflects a lack of engagement, or willingness to engage.

Of course, in financial services we can trot out the excuses about the legal and compliance constraints around engaging in this space, but the reality is that we'e the only ones who care about these issues. Consumers generally don't appreciate the constraints and, quite rightly, argue that if you're not able to deal with them, don't enter the social media space at all.

I recently wrote an article for trade publication, Investor Weekly, in which I said the only way to deal with social media and devise a strategy is get in and have a go. Choose a senior communicator who understands the compliance framework within which your company has to work and hand over responsibility to that person to experiment with social media.

There are many things you can do within that framework - pose topical questions about your business / industry, publish factual announcements prompting a call to action (a link to your website), provide links to helpful third party articles and websites and so on. These are just a few opportunities presented by social media that do not carry compliance risk.

I have a few other remarks on social media:
  • Be smart. Do not engage via social media channels with customer-specific issues. Simply refer any individual inquiries of this nature to your traditional customer help channels like your call centre or a relevant expert on your staff;
  • Be patient. For a low-engagement product like superannuation, your build of fans or followers will be slow but steady. You will also experience little interaction, but don't give up; and
  • Be aware. Add social media to your update check list. When you issue a media release, update your website or release a new publication, ensure that you also update your social media sites and, where appropriate, provide links back to the information. Remember that you have a 140 character limit for tweets on Twitter, so use a free facility like to abbreviate your link and save on character count.
Social media costs nothing more than commitment if put into the right hands.

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