"Alert: Stop Using Social Media -- Immediately," Declares Advisor Marketing Consultant; Should You Allow The Threat Of Flaming Stop You From Using Social Networks?

Thursday, March 15, 2012 10:04

Tags: advisor industry people | client satisfaction | honesty | integrity | marketing | prospecting | Social Media

“Alert: Stop Using Social Media — Immediately,” declared the subject line of a mass email I received today from Elmer Rich III, a business development consultant to retirement advisors and investment advisors. Rich’s mass email was stern. But does his fear mongering makes any sense?

This Website Is For Financial Professionals Only


Here’s what the email said:
“We are now forbidding our clients to use social media including Linked In,” says Rich. “As professional communciators (sic) and marketers we are very serious about stopping using social media. The legal and reputation risks are just too high and getting worse.”
The core problem is no policing so anyone can go on and say anything about you and your firm and it is memorialized on the web forever, One of our clients in (sic) now involved in a law suit because of an offhand libelous and slanderous remark made on a Linked In discussion group.  Stay off and stay away.”
Linked In has become the biggest risk since it now carries you and your company’s professional image and it is open to immediate and permanent malicious attacks.  You don't really want malicious folks knowing so much about you and your firm.  Malicious folks and tctics are coming to dominate the web and social media -- sadly.
Once you are attacked it is pretty much impossible to remove the false information or recoup your reputation.  Ever.
We and some of our clients are taking our profiles off of Linked In.  It’s value is negative now.  There are safer ways to use the new technology.
We have been early adopter so all social media -- so we know at we’re talking about.  Until there is strict policing of the “crazies” even having your own personal listing and company listing is a growing risk.
We will be writing and consulting more on this and share more in the future.

 I don’t know Elmer Rich. We’ve exchanged emails in the past about retirement plan issues. I wish him no harm and he may be very smart about other matters he consults on.
Looking past the spelling and grammatical errors in his urgent email, belying his claim to be a professional communicator, Rich’s plea to “stop using social media immediately” is misguided.
While it is true that social media makes you vulnerable to malicious attacks, not participating won’t stop it.
Anyone can post anything about you in this digital world we live in and there is often little you can do about it. And it will be found using search engines.
Some examples of where people can post to settle hateful vendettas:
Point is, if someone wants to malign you publicly on the Web, they can—whether you have a LinkedIn and Facebook profile or not. You can run from being flamed, but you can’t hide.
Although a LinkedIn profile may marginally make you a larger target, you can’t allow the threat of being flamed prevent you from being social. Unless what the flamers are saying is true.
Truth wins on the Web. Fortunately, that’s my kind of thing.

Comments (5)

Chris Winn
Even as a compliance consulting, I view Reputation Risk much higher than compliance risk for the vast majority of advisory firms. Risk comes from lack of preparation, lack of accountability and mis-alignment with goals.

Sure you can get flamed on the Internet in countless ways. You can also have a disenchanted former client to tell everyone at cocktail parties to stay clear of you or your firm.

Would you stop being an advisor because one client was upset? How many advisors quit the business just because the ETF was invented?

There are risks in everything we do in business. We can't hide. How you deal with these situations defines you as a person and a firm.

Let's face the reality that social media is not only here to stay, but it is in its infancy. It will become a more prominent channel for service and support and not just a fad or marketing gimmick.

With any business strategy, you need to look at the business opportunity, the process and alignment with vision, the resources to execute and the risk management to determine your return on investment.

The time may or may not be right for your firm to embark on a social media strategy. However, that should be an ROI decision based on your client preferences, service model and growth of your business.

While I also have not had the opportunity to interact with Mr. Rich other than social content pushed to me (and value all opinions in these matters!), I do like to point out the irony.

First, If social and electronic interactions are off limits, who would even be hearing this message?

Second, Andy, a bit harsh on the grammar comment. Are you making his point or yours?

To end on a lighter note...
I am devoting the afternoon to working on a new LinkedIn app to transcribe posts to traditional mailings. We will save the US Post Office!

Chris Winn , March 15, 2012
Brilliantly put, Chris. Thanks. If harsh, I would ask his forgiveness. I debated mentioning of the typo blemish. But it's accurate. Sad irony is, as loyal readers know, I have misspelled aplenty myself here on A4A. I'm not judging or even inferring that everything Mr. Rich does and thinks should be judged by this one misguided piece of advice. I've seen his work on other issues, as matter of fact, and he was dead on. On the right side of an issue early. Glad you made me remember that incident. It reflected well on Mr. Rich, come to think of it, and I will be writing more about that soon. Thanks again, Chris, for helping me with that and for your eloquent addition on the topic.
agluck , March 15, 2012
This "Alert" reminds me of the children's story of the Little Boy Who Cried Wolf. Ignore it.

If you are a professional active in your community, you cannot avoid participating in all aspects of social communication and social life. You also cannot avoid the fact that some people won't like you. If you are attacked in your social networking channels, remember, they are bad-mouthing you in your own network. The effect will be small and you can control it by retweeting their tweet or commenting on their post. Their behavior is potentially more damning to them than it is to you.

Using social networking will expand the number of people who know, like and trust you, efficiently and inexpensively. Hiding in the office will only give your competitors an networking advantage with your clients, your friends and your family.

If you practice ethically, follow the spirit and the letter of guidance from regulators and learn the pros and cons of new media, you’ll be fine. If you are afraid, put a Google Alert on to track your name and your RIA. Remember, regulators carry a whistle, not a gun. They want you to succeed, but within the rules
Social networking is not a fad. It's here to stay. Learn to do it right in a community of your peers. Together we will develop best practices and serve more people than ever. And don't pay attention to those who cry wolf. Ethical practice is always safe.
kevinpaulcondon , March 15, 2012
Ron Peremel
Well put gentlemen. If Mr. Rich is forbidding his clients from using social media than he should terminate his own LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter accounts and take down his blog and perhaps stop using email to promote messages to a mass audience that he hopes to do business with.

I find it hard to imagine that an "Advisor Marketing Consultant" would advise, nay "forbid" his clients from using social media. Social media is not going away, the Internet is not going away, networking and marketing are not going away. Mr. Rich should learn how to advise his clients to use the tools and skills they have to promote their practices and their good reputations with clarity and confidence. Not scare them into living in a bubble.

To end with some spiraling irony...one of Mr. Rich's favorite quotes on his Facebook page is "I am always certain and usually wrong."
Ron Peremel , March 16, 2012
agluck , March 16, 2012

Write comment

You must be logged in to post a comment. Please register if you do not have an account yet.