Banking on Social Media: The Right Experts Count

Just the other day, a high net worth fund manager said to me, "I won't tweet. I won't do it. I earn $1,000 an hour. Taking time to tweet would be a waste of time for me." My first reaction was "Oh no" we must all tweet for ourselves. Certainly that has been the party line for Tweeters I've met on blogger nights, but I had to consider said executive was not in the media and just might be right about this, and that generated another thought: Tweeting is a waste of time for the wealth manager but it is not a waste of time for the wealth management business. It may be a waste of time for the lawyer buried in term sheets or appellate briefs, but it is not a waste of time for the independent law firm itself.

You see one of the biggest challenges for a private business in traditional areas like finance and law even in a networking hot house like New York City, is it's extremely challenging to grow a client base and to consistently send out a brand message to new clients, younger clients and new moneyed clients.

Social media is a great modern response to this age old conundrum. But you can't just hire any young thing if you're in the business of selling advice and strategy and here's why: you devalue your brand, new potential clients lose trust and you run the risk of looking shoddy.

One of the ongoing trends as social media has spread, is for companies to engage tech experts who generate fake followers, and spread information via Tweetdeck and/or Hootsuite. However, in a business like finance, law or say a medical practice this seems like a passive approach when the dissemination of information is this type of business is the owner's most valuable asset.

We have seen in the media business "social media editor" and "social media expert" take on a new status at newspapers and TV networks. Their social media experts are serious journalists handling hundreds of stories over the Twitterverse and other platforms. They publish breaking news updates, press releases, engage in Twitter fests; and share all sorts of information that cannot be left to an algorithmically driven social media service. I advise taking a page out of their book and use the media effectively and approach it seriously.

If you want to create new value and reach beyond the outdated Industrial Age landscape for traditional enterprise, while maintaining and increasing the value of your brand, I strongly advise hiring an expert to communicate over social media for your business, particularly if you own a private company. This expert must actually be an expert in your day to day business, not a tech superstar.

Do not waste your money on a college student with a social media start-up or even a major social media business if you run or own a company that depends on your advice i.e., law, finance, healthcare. The level of your messaging must reflect the sophistication of your business.

If you have a law firm, hire a lawyer to tweet or a paralegal or a former associate: somebody who absolutely understands the law and the cases that cross your desk and what a link to a supreme court case would say about your firm. A partner in an independent firm, engaging a social media expert recently said, "If you did not understand the law I wouldn't do this with you, it [the social media approach] has to be in line with what I do and you need to understand that."

If you're in finance, it's not hard to find an out of work experienced Wall Streeter or top financial journalist who understands how to comment on the important finance stories of the day, wealth management studies and key institutions. They will know the banks, traders and market movers to follow.

It's most important that the person has the appropriate degrees and expertise to language in 140 characters or less as the voice of your business and your company in the social media universe. They are in fact often talking to new clients, building relationships and acting as the voice of your company in social media discussions and you should have a general understanding of how this works yourself.

Use your computer help desk to set up the basic Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and more accounts. In New York I recommend using Juicy Orange if you are in the process of designing your website and accounts. I advise you use Cartwheel if you're looking for overall computer and mail support.

If you're out of work in a certain field that requires multiple degrees and years of experience, I may have just found you a new small business to start -- hello, social media editor -- get out there and find some clients.