All right, sorry I’m a couple days late. The New North Social Media Breakfast hosted its finance-themed July event on Tuesday and to bring all the “tweeps” who were unable to attend up to speed (as well as provide a reminder for those of us who may not have been completely awake) I’ve compiled some of the highlights in a little piece I like to call, “NNSMB Finance: A Relationship Investment.” (Nice, right?)
The event started off with a bacon — er — bang as Kiar Olson of Element Creative introduced the panelists: Jeff Gahnz, vice president of marketing for Nicolet National Bank; Beth Sorenson, Shorewest Realtors; Brad Will, Peoples State Bank and Rick Rentmeester, Rentmeester Financial.
As the discussion progressed, a very clear trend emerged: social media is about relationships. This seems so painfully obvious I almost feel guilty typing it. Here’s a little logic: If social media is about relationships, then the same basic rules of relationships should apply.
- Don’t be overbearing. The only person you control in social media is yourself. If you start telling other people how they can and can’t interact with you they will either 1) revolt or 2) leave. You want neither.
- Don’t change yourself. For some reason companies may feel the need to adopt an Internet alter ego. People also do the same thing in middle school relationships. Don’t be a middle-schooler. Be yourself. Be real. If you’re a financial adviser with a passion for pandas wielding gatling guns then don’t be afraid to show it off. Embrace your personality and have a sense of humor. (See Rick's infamous panda profile pic below.)
- Be respectful. Don’t take advantage of people’s interest by throwing advertisements in their faces all day. Respect their time. Also, respect their feedback. Don’t ever discount person one because he or she doesn’t have as much “clout” as person two.
- Don’t over analyze. Accept comments at face value; don’t read too far into things. This can lead to gross misinterpretations and chaos.
- Solve problems as they arise. You wouldn’t wait a week to answer someone’s problems face-to-face, so why would you wait that long online? People want immediate feedback and will get agitated/angry if you don’t show an effort. (With smart phones, you don’t have an excuse to say you didn’t see something.) Also: if people complain about you to your face, this is a good thing. It means you still have a fighting chance to change their mind and keep them around. (If you respond quickly.)
- Don’t be afraid to communicate. Social media doesn’t close off communication; it opens up additional channels to talk. It’s like e-mail once was. In a 24/7 environment you can’t afford to hope people don’t hear about something; chances are they will know immediately and its best they hear it from you than someone else who may not have all the correct details.
- Listen. Sometimes people just need you to pay attention to what they’re really saying, not what you think they are saying. Taking time to understand another person’s needs is crucial to any lasting relationship.
- Don’t be short sighted. Always, always, always keep your end goals in sight. Social media needs to be supported by solid strategy. Fall in love with the opportunity and overall concept, not a specific platform. (See: MySpace)
- Know your limits. You can’t be everything. (And you don’t have to be; don’t go on every social media site because you think you have to.) You can’t say everything. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. If there are regulations in your industry, comply with them – people will understand.
- Take it for what it is. Relationships are multifaceted and while some people may view them as a financial investment (which aspects of social media relationships certainly can be), basing them on monetary value only will cause problems. You don’t try to label e-mail messages for ROI, be careful about doing the same with social media. The value of social media is unique, but undeniable, for everyone. Accept it for the individual value it brings your organization.
Thanks again to all of the panelists who participated. Did anyone else get any juicy nuggets of information from the event? Please share them! I know there was a lot of other great info but I couldn’t take notes fast enough to record it all.