Open for Social Business

A returning Joe Polidoro and Triplestop LLC discuss the value of open networks and open engagement in social media. Joe and his team are financial services veterans with a clear vision for the intersection of compliance, marketing and operations.

Pat Allen asks the right question in her Rock the Boat Marketing blog June 4: “How does an entire industry”—asset management—“shift toward openness and sharing as a business value?”

She’s just finished Charlene Li’s new book, Open Leadership, which carefully lays out what has become clear to anyone watching the culture in the last few years—that “easy, no-cost information sharing” online has changed the way we live, including how we do business.

Call it “social business”—the market conversations that drive reputation, relationships, and revenues. For centuries, social business has taken place offline. Now it’s happening online, and while the shift has been sudden and has barely begun, the results are astounding.

Ford customers can now be heard by Ford’s engineers, who are able to make quick product fixes and be seen as responsive. Dell customers can get real-time access to deals and great just-in-time customer service . Notice that these companies aren’t using social media as megaphones—they’re putting social media in the hands of employees, opening up the online marketing conversation.

But while many industries open up online, asset managers remain closed.

I think the industry is about to open up online. And it’s not just because of competitive pressure—although this will come into play, too. Here’s why.

Asset management is just as open other industries. Maybe more so. Can you think of any other industry in which competitors sell their services on each others’ shelves, and inside each others’ products, to the extent that happens in asset management? As my old boss at Bankers Trust, Virgina Sirusas, used to say, “we’re all in each others’ knickers.”

Until now, that openness has been solely offline. But the heat is on. More and more market participants are conducting their other social business online. Advisors are adopting social media. So are banks. And, yes, more asset managers than you might think are participating on social networks.

The industry is simmering, simmering, but has yet to come to a boil. What’s keeping the lid on?

Control = Freedom

Asset managers won’t open up until they feel they have control. That’s been our view, which we’ve confirmed through discussions with asset managers over the last year. To feel comfortable opening up, sharing information, and otherwise socializing online, asset managers must feel they can manage that activity—not just to comply with regulations but to maintain a consistent brand message. Freedom requires control.

Control is why the asset managers most active on social networks (Vanguard, Fidelity, et. al.) aren’t really open. And control is why most asset managers aren’t participating at all.

What will give firms that control, and therefore the freedom to open up? An application that:

1.      Lets review teams OK everything before it’s published. The review functionality should adapt to the firms’ existing review processes, not the other way around

2.      Allows firms to choose which employees get to participate on behalf of the company, on which social networking platforms

3.      Archives all activity electronically, in an easily searchable and retrievable database

4.      Does all this quickly and efficiently, with a simple interface that makes it easy for anyone in the firm to use and for marketing and legal/compliance to manage

That solution hasn’t existed—until now. Arkovi has developed what we think is the best answer to FINRA-compliant review, permissioning, and archival. In fact, we think it’s essential for any firm, regulated or not, that wants to open itself to online social business.

That’s why Arkovi is now an integrated part of our broader solution for asset managers and other firms that want to quickly add social business features to their online presence.

Control isn’t the only roadblock to adoption. But until now it’s been the one immovable object blocking online social business. All the other obstacles—lack of management buy-in, budget, staffing, and so on—will be quickly swept away once the first few firms choose to go open.

Because competitive pressures will force it on everyone else.

2 thoughts on “Open for Social Business

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Triplestop LLC guest blog – Open for Social Business on @arkovibackups blog — Blog: Arkovi Social Media Archiving -- Topsy.com

  2. Joe, great post and thanks for the mention of my blog post on Charlene Li’s book.
    It seems as if all brands are struggling with surrendering at least two kinds of control—the interest is in controlling what employees say as well as in controlling conversations about the brand.

    In the first case, non-regulated companies can start with a blank page when they draft their social media guidelines for employees, and they can allow as much latitude as they please. (And Li argues that the more open a company becomes, the better all-around.)

    But asset managers start with the FINRA guidance, layer in their own Legal and Compliance perspectives, add on their executives’ tolerance for business risk and, there it is: The “controls” are in place in the form of a policy. To the extent that there is interest in being social, Arkovi’s social media archiving offers a technology solution that enables, in a practical way, qualified employees’ participation in social channels.

    It’s a lot of work and the company that gets this far has made real progress. But…there’s still the issue of full participation, openness and shedding once and for all the expectation of being able to control conversations about the brand. This requires a culture-transforming, communications-upending journey not likely to be able to be facilitated by technology (although I wouldn’t count the Arkovi wizards out). I suspect that it will take our dear asset managers some time to get there.

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