I see myself as a new age explorer, out on the trail, looking for meaning and, hopefully, creating a road map for others to follow. In fact, we are all a part of a grand experiment, and while some “social media experts” will tell you that “social media rules” – and that it’s the magic fairy dust you need to “explode your business” – others will tell you their social media “rules” – their own observations and opinions on how to do it right. In reality, I think that we are, as communities of like-minded people, creating our own “rules” or guidelines. So, I will proffer some of my own observations and opinions in this piece and encourage you to post your own on the discussion thread connected to this article.
THE ROCK POLISHING MACHINE
While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I admit I have my own personal and professional filters, there just seems to be a lot of noise “out there” as people in general and financial advisors in particular grapple with Twitter etiquette, Facebook do’s, and LinkedIn don’ts. As I write this article, a couple of recent events are rolling around in my head:
- Deena Katz, an icon in the financial planning industry who now teaches personal financial planning courses at Texas Tech University, asked me to fly down to Lubbock, Texas, the week before last to talk with her students for the day. I got a lot out of that full-day conversation, hearing from folks a lot younger than I about how they think about and use social media. We didn’t always agree, but we did have a lively conversation and I’ve never heard so many “yes ‘ma’am’s” and “Mrs. Swift’s” in my life. I, of course, shared my perspective as a Baby Boomer and tenured communications consultant in the industry. It was like rocks rolling around in a rock-polishing machine—a wonderful experience because it was a give-and-take, never a one-way dialog. Hey, that seems like a good rule for social media use too, make it a give-and-take, never a one-way dialog—just like in real life. Use the hashtag #TTUpfp to see aggregated Twitter posts related to that day.
- I just returned from the FPA Convention in San Antonio where, by the way, I got to wear the new red cowboy boots that I bought while hanging around with Deena in Lubbock the week before. In a Community Building Discussion Room, twenty or so people and I gathered to talk about how digital communications are changing the way we interact. Of course, social media was a big part of that conversation (remember social media is supposed to have an interactive component to it whereas everything else you do online is what I call “building your online presence—a much bigger topic than just social media). So, beyond social media, we also talked about video, websites, mass email use, etc. One of the biggest pet peeves in the room was seeing the same content over and over again from the same person via an automated system on all of their social media accounts. The group agreed that they want to see a glimpse of the real person and are turned off by blatant self-promotion. Hmmm … sounds like real life, again. Don’t be a phony. Create a dialog. Put others first. Make a contribution. Don’t dominate the space. Use the hashtag #FPAexperience to see aggregated Twitter posts related to that day.
- The first of the presidential debates occurred last week. Did you realize that there were actually two debates – one on TV and one on the Internet? As I was sitting on the couch with my laptop watching the stream of comments from my friends and colleagues on Twitter, I was also watching the post-debate analysis on TV. Intentionally, I refrained from adding my own opinions to the Twitter stream during the debate for, as one of my wise Twitter friends said, “I find the group think on Twitter and Facebook to be detrimental.” One of the news anchors wisely said: “All politics are social,” which I thought was interesting. And, I would add, this year’s politics are even more social than ever due to the endless stream of opinions posted on Twitter and Facebook (hopefully not so much on LinkedIn, where unless you are part of a political group conversation, I highly discourage political posts—and, come to think of it, I have recently “unfriended” people on Facebook who went on and on making others wrong for their social and political views). Use the hashtag #debate to see aggregated Twitter posts related to that day.