State Street, Unisys, GE Capital, KPMG and Leaseplan lead list of companies recognized as E2 Social Business Leaders.
Most of the social business leaders profiled here are pushing hard to get more people on their platforms.
Not so for Silu Modi, VP of digital marketing for Macquarie Group, who oversees a social media marketing and prospecting program for financial advisers seeking customers for the firm's private wealth management services. "I'm looking at total audience of 40, at tops 50, advisers -- but every single one of them using it well."
Modi works for the Canadian subsidiary of Macquarie, which is based in Australia. Until 2011, company policy prohibited advisers from practicing their profession in social media for regulatory reasons. That policy has been relaxed somewhat with the use of Actiance Socialite, a social media management tool designed for use in regulated industries where communications with customers and potential customers must be monitored and archived. Still, the advisers who use the tool are operating out in public where they can potentially get themselves -- and the company -- in a lot of trouble by saying the wrong thing.
The program that allows supervised access to Twitter, LinkedIn and other social sites started with just four advisers and has been expanding at the rate of another four every six months or so. Modi said he may pick up the pace to add five or six advisers every six months, but probably won't go beyond that.
"I don't believe in social for every one of our advisers, just like seminars are not for every one of [our] advisers," he said. "If you want to be part of [the] social program, you have to have had a blog going for a while. You need some digital savvy and you need to be able to write something for yourself -- where you don't need someone else writing your tweets for you. You're going to be a spokesperson for the brand, so you have to be able to complete a well-formed, well-written sentence."
Ghostwriting social content doesn't work, especially for financial professionals. If a potential client likes what the adviser posted, the failure to be able to discuss that topic on follow-up leads to "cognitive dissonance" that kills sales, Modi said. "The person writing this stuff has to be the person you're going to meet in real life."
The most talented investment advisers tend to have their own strong opinions in any case and not want to merely distribute press releases. Those selected for the social media program are given a tutorial on the relevant regulations and what they can and can't say. For the first six months of the program, everything they post has to be pre-approved for compliance before it goes live. If they get through six months of the program with no more than three rejections, they graduate to "post moderation," meaning they are trusted to post their own content, subject to spot checking after the fact.
While there is a pent-up demand from advisers who want to get into the program, particularly after hearing tales of how it brought in big contracts, the role of social needs to be kept in perspective, Modi said. "I don't think anybody in their right mind is going to invest a half million with an adviser because of a pithy tweet." Instead, the smart adviser who goes prospecting works all the online and offline channels available "until somewhere on the path they hit a tipping point -- after four, five, six, eight, nine touchpoints, you hit on something that takes them over the edge."