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10/26/2012
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Socialware Listens For The Sound Of Money

As part of its social media management tool for financial advisors, Socialware now scans an individual's network for contacts who might be in the market for life insurance or a 401(k) rollover.

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Many social media "listening" tools are used to mine streams of posts looking for sales or marketing opportunities. Socialware's social media management product for financial advisors goes further by adding a listening agent that pricks up its ears at the mention of events such as getting a new job, getting married or having a child – all those things that might prompt a person need to roll over a 401(k), rebalance a portfolio or buy life insurance.

Socialware is one of the financial industry specialists that helps agents and advisors make compliant use of social media, with customers including Guardian Life Insurance. Compliance features include screening posts before they appear on a social network and automated policy enforcement, as well as archiving communications on social media. These features are all necessary for regulated businesses, but Socialware also wants to help advisors make sure they don't miss important business opportunities in the social feeds from clients and potential clients they have connected with.

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"Part of the challenge happening in the space is just information overload -- your stream becomes a fast-moving river, and your ability to make sure you don't miss critical events is just becoming harder and harder," Chad Bockius, CEO of Socialware, said in an interview.

According to LIMRA, a financial industry research group, 69% of people roll over their 401(k)s within 12 months of a job change, while 68% of recently married couples and 73% of new parents go shopping for life insurance. Smart advisors will not necessarily respond to cues like a job change with a hard sell sales pitch, Bockius said. "It's really about being human -- being the first one to call and congratulate them on a change and seeing if there's anything you can do for them, whether financial or not."

Socialware created its own listening software, rather than licensing or reselling another product, because most listening services are designed to cast a very wide net for brand or product mentions on the social web, Bockius said. In contrast, Socialware is listening to the social graph connections for a particular individual and filtering for a pre-defined set of words and phrases associated with life events.

Future releases might provide opportunities to customize the keyword list, but most advisors will be just as happy not to futz with that, Bockius said. "One of the things we've learned in this industry is that these advisors, these agents -- they're looking for the Easy button."

Ameriprise Financial participated in a beta rollout of the new platform. "Social networking is an increasingly important strategy used by our advisors to identify potential clients and engage with current ones," Jon Pauley, senior VP of interactive strategy and marketing at Ameriprise, said in a statement for the press release. "Socialware essentially provides an automated social 'to do' list for our advisors, alerting them to only relevant updates and recommending action. It eliminates the time and resource burden of manually combing through the network feeds every day."

Socialware did not disclose pricing, saying its customers will pay for this feature through an enterprise agreement. In some cases, the cost will be passed on to the individual agents as overhead for the marketing of their services.

Follow David F. Carr on Twitter @davidfcarr. The BrainYard is @thebyard and facebook.com/thebyard

Social media make the customer more powerful than ever. Here's how to listen and react. Also in the new, all-digital The Customer Really Comes First issue of The BrainYard: The right tools can help smooth over the rough edges in your social business architecture. (Free registration required.)

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