There’s an old Jewish proverb that goes something like this: If the fish and the bird fall in love, where would they live? The peasant patriarch Tevye explains this to his daughter in Fiddler on the Roof when she begins seeing a young Russian man who was not “of the tribe”.
On many levels, financial services and social media are very much like the fish and the bird who fell in love – they are drawn to each other but still in search of a comfort zone in which they can make their home. There is an argument out there that in the end, it is not possible. The very nature of social media is spontaneity and casual conversation with perfect strangers. This contrasts sharply with the controlled message and dignified, stentorian communication techniques that most financial firms work so hard at.
The hard part for the finance industry as a whole and the brokerage community especially is finding that place where these two ideas can coexist.
My post at the Wall Street Journal today takes a look at how one brokerage firm is attempting to bridge the divide…
Ever been to a “social media conference”?
I’ve been to a dozen so let me spare you the torture: everybody knows everything and nobody knows anything, all at the same time. Especially the guy wearing the blazer and jeans – that guy knows less than everyone but because he is the most vocal, he’s treated as the acknowledged expert. And there is no one in the audience except people who wanted to be on the panel, they will sit and nod their heads as the requisite platitudes are repeated from the dais over and over again, phrases like “it’s all about sharing” and “thought leadership is the key” and “join the conversation” and on and on.
And there is no more ridiculous creature on God’s green earth than the financial social media expert – if you see one coming, seriously, preempt them by hurling yourself in front of a crosstown bus at your earliest convenience – you’ll thank me later, hopefully from heaven.
I am always amazed at the temerity of those I’ve never even heard of to proclaim themselves social media consultants or experts to the finance industry. Then I look them up on Twitter and they have 400 followers, I can’t imagine what anyone would be paying them for. I know a few true social media experts in the financial industry who know what they’re talking about, the rest just had business cards printed up and are doing the ol’ fake it til you make it. But I digress…