Hey, you put words in my mouth. Thank you.

Tomorrow’s the big bake-off at that annual company competition thingy.  It’s just for fun, but you’ve only been with the organization for a few months and you want to make a stand as the king of the corporate kitchen.  You’re up all night testing out different recipes, frosting, and decorations. Would it bother you to find out that some of the top competition that you’ve scouted around the office, your colleagues, are taking a shortcut and buying pre-made desserts from the local pie shop or supermarket on the way to work in the morning?

Whether you realize it or not, a large portion of professionals, especially those in the financial services industry, are doing the same thing on social media – only with content and not food.  Do you follow your local bank or real-estate agent on Twitter? Are you a fan of your attorney, accountant, or financial adviser on Facebook?  Chances are what they are saying is off-the-shelf, just like that deceitfully delicious banana nut bread from the end of the aisle that your tenacious colleague picked up. Why is this? Three primary reasons:

  1. Financial service professionals are not marketers or writers.
  2. They don’t have the time to browse the Web for the most interesting developments or craft their own engaging post on an ongoing basis.  They’re supposed to be out selling.
  3. Regulation. FINRA, the SEC, and other regulatory bodies oftentimes require social media content to undergo a review by the firm’s compliance unit prior to posting.  Stock content means it’s already blessed by legal and ready to be posted as is.

There are scores of companies, many of which have cropped up in the last couple of years, whose sole function is to craft and curate relevant and meaningful social media content for their clients. Not to mention the vast in-house resources firms have dedicated towards writing timely posts for their representatives.

Does it matter that what your trusted adviser is posting has simply been copied & pasted from a content repository or pushed out from corporate? Does it really matter? As long as the message is interesting and educational, do we really care where it came from? What do you think? I bought my mom a card for Mother’s Day, I didn’t write the poem inside. I don’t think she’ll mind (but then again, the back does say, “Hallmark”).

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6 thoughts on “Hey, you put words in my mouth. Thank you.

  1. I believe that as long as the message is still informative then it does not matter how much of the content is actually canned. For example, if it is an intelligent analysis of a publicly traded company or an industry with insight then it adds value for investors. Avoiding witty banter or clever anecdotes would avoid possible misinterpretations. Using as much pre-approved content as possible while still communicating a unique message will keep your company compliant and make your compliance and legal team’s job less difficult while reducing risk for the firm.

  2. While this practice might sound a little troubling at first because no one wants to feel duped or cheated, I think it’s perfectly OK. Not everyone is a wordsmith on social media and often posting content could be very time-consuming. While the individual(s) behind the account may not crafting each word or piece of content for the post, their creativity does lie in selecting the stock posts available to them. I’d imagine this involves some sort of strategy (what to post, when, time of day, frequency, etc.). Similar to attorneys, accountants, and financial advisers, providers of social media content have a set of specialized skills and are experts in their field. Perhaps it is best to leave it to the professionals.

  3. It’s OK as long as the person using the template is OK with it’s repercussions. As we learned from the Obama case study, social media has a stronger message when it connects with users. If a user doesn’t realize the page is from a template, they may still connect with the message, But as soon as they realize it’s a template, the message is going to lose it’s respectability.

    Just like in the office – everyone loves cake. But how much more do we love a homemade cake than an out of the box Entenmanns. Although they both taste good, the homemade cake is a much nicer jesture.

  4. Social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook are making it easy to cite the sources one is quoting. By retweeting something, one can show and give credit to the source it is originating from. Even without citing the original source, I think it is OK as long as it is a credible source and important information that might not otherwise be seen or seen as quickly as with a repost.

  5. In the case of professional services, it is the past experience of the individual that speaks volumes. It is highly personalized to the particular expert and cant be recreated by an outside agency. Experience and the resulting knowledge is what clients pay the big bucks for and makes the most interesting and authentic social media content. So I believe the posts etc should come from the actual individuals in the business. Readers will soon detect inauthenticity and become wary. In terms of having time to research content, it is the professional’s duty to keep abreast of current trends so they can accurately advise their clients. So they should be able to post comments on relevant changes in the industry or big news stories. Although they shouldn’t give all of their insider information away as they will have nothing to charge for!

  6. It is my opinion that this argument can go both ways depending on the specific situation or business. Some social media content, of the informative nature, might be most effective using a generalized template. For example, informing your Twitter users that your business will be open on a holiday. On the other hand, more individualized content might be more effective (and informative) when left to the “professionals.” Certain types of social media content should definitely be required to undergo some level of review depending on the nature of the message itself.

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