As a business owner, it’s tough not to get hit in the face about the virtues of social media these days. You must be on it; you must engage your target client base with it; you must have content for it; you must have a complete strategy behind it.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say there’s truth to this. While Goldman Communications focuses in large part on the portfolio management, investing and financial services worlds, there are plenty of reasons for all kinds of businesses to be embracing and engaging in social media.
With the investing world in particular, there’s a general sentiment that social media is for other people – kids, teens, tweens and others who use it to communicate their latest meal, the outfit they’re wearing, or simply how they’re feeling.
So often I hear how investment managers in particular have nothing to say, that they don’t have the time, that they don’t feel it’s a good use of their time, or that they feel it’s not a reflection of who they are and what they do.
It is not, they generally say, about investment management, business or anything in between.
My typical response is that, while it would be convenient to think the audience these investment managers are looking to attract – namely those who simply want to make money, and not hear about or share what they had for breakfast – it’s simply wrong.
Whether it’s the 30-something investor looking for a new investment manager or advisor or someone sitting on a pension investment committee half listening to your presentation and half checking to see whether you’re on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or even Instagram, having some kind of presence is 1000 times better than not.
That being said, simply having a presence isn’t enough. In an age where information is immediate, having your pitch deck or a few catchphrase slogans on your LinkedIn page doesn’t qualify as being on social media.
Social media is not a one-time deal. You can’t just set up a profile and expect that to be enough information for those looking you up. Social media is also not just a trend – people associate it with certain age groups, products, services, etc. – but realistically its’ becoming more about how you get your message out – and how people find out about you.
When I’m asked by portfolio managers and others about the virtues and vices of it, I typically give the same response: the virtues are that you are potentially broadening your reach and your client base in ways that simply don’t exist elsewhere.
The challenges, however, are plentiful. From what you say, where you say it, how you say it and who you say it to to what you say and do on a personal level to what your employees and even colleagues say about you, there are all kinds of minefields to think about and navigate.
Social media allows you to have a voice and, as mentioned earlier, a presence online. What many don’t understand is that your presence online and the interactions you have online is not that different from those you have in person.
And it’s not rocket science. You can certainly have opinions, ideas or be creative with your social media. Key is ensuring that you're comfortable with what you say, no matter who might read it.
When you put information up about what you do, or share important ideas, that’s the same as you having a conversation with others in person. They remember it. They remember what you and your business stand for, or what initiative you may have mentioned, and it’s amazing how fast those conversations can lead to business or new important relationships.
That’s why it’s important to share real messages, and have a real presence – you might even end up becoming an authority on certain topics if you’re well educated on them and you’re able to find the right online communities to engage with, which could do wonders for your business.
The bottom line is that social media is not going away. Learn to have fun with it. Use it to grab peoples' attention and hold it. Post content that matters to you: real, genuine, interesting, thoughtful, compelling content – either your own or, as we specialize in, through the traditional media telling your story, and turning to you as the expert in your field.