Social media not only provides an opportunity to promote your investment expertise but it is also provides a forum for a lot of upstarts. SocialPick.com, the Facebook of stock brokerage, is ranking members based on their stock picking prowess. In other words, your plumber could out-pick you when it comes to buying and trading stocks… and in front of the whole world! It is never too late to start managing your online reputation. Following is some sage advice from investment and social media professionals.
1. Develop tight security standards. It is easy to wander off your company’s broker site and onto one of the many investor social networks that are aggregating millions of investors seeking investment advice and vehicles. Ensure high security standards protect investor information and confidentiality.
2. Use sites that make regulatory compliance easy. Securities regulations apply to social media sites. Your compliance officers should draw up guidelines to ensure your investment professionals comply with investment rules. Some sites are touting their compliance friendly features, including storing all investment interaction for the requisite time period.
3. Provide value-added information. To compete with the zillions of bytes in free investment information on social media sites, ensure your investment analysis adds real value.
4. Your five minutes is a nanosecond on social media. Ensure your blurbs – brief write-ups on you and your company that typically accompany your photo – differentiate you and communicate value.
5. Network wisely. Add contacts you know or are recommended by people you know. If your new buddy prompts one million investors to sell a stock that then breaks out of the bull pen, your credibility is sunk.
6. Avoid too much twittering. Do not inundate your clients with Tweets. The Tweets that you send should add value and be timely. Do not use Twitter to make cold, or even warm, sales calls.
7. Do due diligence on your new friends. Large firms should not hesitate to put a full time due diligence officer on social networks. Reputation management systems and protocols are essential for effectively using social media.
8. Thoroughly research social media offerings. Social media networks are providing a broad range of services to attract investors. Not all features and functionality will be in your best interest. Services such as rankings, transparent trading and a history of your trades and opinions may be available to your potential clients. If you do not become a “certified” and transparent investor, will you rank low among potential investment advisors?
9. Do not make fast friends on Facebook. Imagine this: I am about to invest in XYZ stock based on your recommendations on a social networking site. First, I Google the company for more information and your mug shot pops up on the Facebook site of the CEO of XYZ company. Your professional recommendation now appears biased. Is XYZ CEO your brother-in-law?
10. Follow the rules: The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has provided guidance for securities firms and investors on how to use social networking while remaining compliant. You can access a webinar here.