Making Social Media Work

A financial industry "insider" and a communications professional "outsider" gave actionable ideas on tackling a social media strategy at the ASPPA 401(k) Summit in Las Vegas.  

First-hand experience  

Adam Pozek is a partner and consultant at DWC Consultants, Inc., in Essex, Mass.  He is a clear example of how professionals in the financial services industry do not need to be held back by compliance issues if they want to explore social media, he says. Pozek maintains a blog (, as well as profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter – all while adhering to his firm’s compliance guidelines.

Pozek said there are several reasons to use social media: are you trying to sell something or build your business? Create name (brand) recognition? Or are you interested in maintaining relationships with existing clients?  His main purpose of engaging in social media is to create name recognition, which is probably the best use of social media, he said.   

Many advisers ask Pozek if he’s ever gotten a client as a direct result of social media. He said that up until recently, the answer would have been no. But then, someone in San Francisco came across a blog post that addressed a question they had been grappling with, and this person became a client. So it’s possible, but it took some time, he said.  (To get ideas on how to start a blog, see “What You Need To Know About Blogging”.) 

One challenge of blogging Pozek has been through is the risk of “getting in a rut.” If your blog is fortunate enough to get followers, there’s an expectation that you’ll post on a regular basis. And it can become hard to do when day-to-day responsibilities demand your attention. But you need to commit, he said, and it doesn’t need to take much time.  One or two short entries a week; remember, they don’t need to be white papers.    

Another blogging suggestion Pozek offered was to include a “blog roll” on your site. This is a list of other blogs that you follow, and in return, that blogger will include a link to your blog on his site.  It’s another great way to gain exposure, he said.

Lastly, Pozek said the key to a successful social media presence is connecting the dots – every time he publishes a blog post, it automatically shows up on his Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter profiles. He said it took a little time to set this up (“a few hours on a rainy Saturday afternoon”), but then it’s completely hands-off.  Every post is sent out to those other sites, and directs traffic back to his blog, and possibly, his work Web site too (a link is included in the blog page).

Tips from a Communications Professional 

At the same panel, Kevin Popovic, founder of Ideahaus, a communications consulting firm based in Pittsburgh and San Diago, discussed some general guidance professionals should follow when creating a social media strategy.  His tips included:

  • Integration of various Web sites
  • Adoption – doing anything is better than doing nothing!   
  • Training/Outsourcing – use qualified communicators. Even if you know how to use Facebook or Twitter for personal reasons, using it for business purposes requires a different approach
  • Strategy – sales and marketing should work together; marketing creates opportunity, sales creates customers. Remember the difference and stay on your side of the fence
  • Location-based marketing – use the new “Facebook places” or “Foursquare” tools to target your local client base
  • Communication Plan – formalize a plan with objectives and strategies
  • The return of the customer relationship – make help calls, not sales calls. Customers return if a relationship develops
  • Same challenge, different technology – you still need to have a good message, whether it’s delivered via “old-fashioned” email or on social media sites