Social media use in the financial service industry is a tricky area given the issues around compliance with regulations and risk.
This is why I was interested to read that Wedbush Securities, a privately held financial services and investment firm based in USA, has announced that they will give the “green light” for firm-wide adoption of social media.
With 100 offices across the United States, employees at Wedbush Securities are now free to craft their own networks and conversations, and so can move away from “canned responses”.
It’s certainly a bold move – but one that I’m sure will be viewed closely by those in the financial sector. Handing over the brand’s reputation to the entire firm could be a very problematic move, but Wedbush Securities has clearly thought about their overarching social media strategy and are taking a variety of precautions:
- Staff will be trained on appropriate use of social media in a financial context, and have a social media policy to follow.
- Initially, the channels permitted will just be the “Big 3” networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn).
- Staff will have to create separate, professional accounts for all their Wedbush activities.
These steps will simplify Wedbush’s ability to monitor the accounts, which will undoubtedly aid with compliance. Having separate accounts for personal and professional use means that staff can be clear who they are representing at any given time (although it pays to be prepared for mistakes such as tweeting from the wrong account).
Personally, I wonder if Google+ would have been a better choice than Facebook at this stage – while Facebook is of course the larger network, I would consider the social search benefits of Google+ and benefits of separating contacts into Circles to be better suited to a professional social networking. While the Wedbush Securities accounts will clearly be professional, presumably the accounts they interact with will be personal, and perhaps Facebook is not the environment where investment decisions are influenced.
However, as a starting point, Facebook certainly offers the largest audience and an already familiar interface for many, if not all, of the 1,000 Wedbush Securities employees.