The Facebook IPO was a wild party, and it took me back to my days of covering IPOs as a business analyst in the mid-2000s. The hype last week was understandable, because Facebook cuts a huge figure whether you’re an investor, a media member, or simply a social network user. Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg must be feeling fine, too, since he got married the day after the IPO.
But now it’s Monday morning, the dust has settled, and it’s time to get back to the real work. With Facebook (the world’s largest social network) and LinkedIn (the largest social network for professionals) both public now, social media is maturing rapidly from a business perspective. So let’s take a quick survey of the social business landscape for the financial services industry.
LinkedIn and the Financial Services Industry
With due respect to Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and the rest, the biggest social networking draws for financial services firms are LinkedIn and Facebook. Whether you look at it from the perspective of an enterprise or an individual financial professional, these are the networks that help the most for finding clients and branding.
LinkedIn, which had its own IPO a year ago, leads the way for financial services. As we discussed earlier this month during LinkedIn’s Financial Services Summit, the network has by far the biggest reach among financial advisors. More than 91% of advisors who are on social media use LinkedIn, a number that dwarfs advisors’ participation in any other network.
Beyond the statistics about advisor use, the Financial Services Summit itself served as a marker of LinkedIn’s seriousness about this industry. As we have worked with LinkedIn over the past year-plus, we’ve seen them build out their teams dedicated to financial services. Besides adding more account managers, they have benefited from the work of industry specialist Jennifer Grazel, who participated in our joint webinar series for financial advisors earlier this year — the first (and so far only) webinar series dedicated specifically to the success of financial professionals. Grazel has also joined us at our User Group meetings to hear directly from top compliance officers and marketers in the industry.
Considering the focus and resources LinkedIn has channeled into this market, it is clear that they are intent on serving the needs of financial services enterprises and the advisors, agents, and other professionals within them.
Facebook and the Financial Services Industry
Although LinkedIn has taken the lead in financial services up to now, Facebook has been making rapid strides as well. Recently the company has built out a team dedicated to financial services, and they understand this space well. At a User Group meeting earlier this year, Facebook was able to participate alongside our customers and staff. From the comments shared there, it’s clear that Facebook has a perceptive view of the needs of the firms that they and we serve, at the enterprise level but also from the perspective of individual advisors.
Through our involvement with Facebook’s Preferred Marketing Developer (PMD) program and our own conversations with Facebook staff, we’re able to see how Facebook is tackling the thorny details of compliance in a way that makes sense for these firms. In fact, considering our exclusive focus on compliant social business for financial services, we regard our inclusion in the PMD program itself as a signal of Facebook’s seriousness about learning this market better.
Social Business Maturity for Financial Services
The financial services industry is our home, and social media is our specialty, so we’ll continue to monitor how the social networks are adapting to the needs of financial services firms — and how the firms are finding better and better uses for LinkedIn and Facebook (and others) to drive business.
This isn’t about the months of hype around an IPO, or even the years of hype around what social media might do to deliver business results someday. It’s about what these networks are doing today to bring financial services firms and professionals closer to their clients. It’s working, as we’ve seen in one great example after another. We’ll keep you posted as more firms keep making real strides in social business.