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From the Ice Age to the Internet Age

Mukesh Dedhia, CFP, IndiaBy Mukesh Dedhia, CFP

“Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”- John Kennedy

We humans have really come a long way from the Ice Age to the Internet Age. The internet was introduced in the year 1994 and after that there was no looking back for the business sector to make the efficient and effective use of ‘IT’.

After Y2K, offshoring, websites and e-commerce, the latest buzzword is social media. A few years ago, this entire industry didn’t even exist. Now it’s growing and evolving too quickly for anyone to keep pace with it. Facebook, Twitter, blogs, YouTube, LinkedIn, Foursquare, and other social media sites and tools are innovating and changing faster than any other communications technologies in history. Where is all of this is going to end up? It is impossible to predict, except to say that it is not going away, particularly given the explosion of smartphones, iPads, tablets and other mobile devices.

The very fact that we are reading and writing content on this blog speaks the fact that we do realize the importance of being present on the web. I’m sure most of us already have static websites which are calling upon prospective clients for various professional services that we can offer to them. Some of us would also have gone all out and advertised our services on google ads and various other search engines and websites frequented by our prospects. But are these really effective?

The global recession has compelled organizations and individuals to figure out how to accomplish more with less money – to get their messages out there and talked about, without spending too much on traditional media like television, radio and print.

Advisers are on LinkedIn

LinkedIn may be the most advisor-friendly of the major social networking services. According to Socialware, 57 percent of advisors who say they use social networking for business use LinkedIn. Just like we are using this platform Financial Planet, a growing number of investment advisors have taken up blogging too—posting their thoughts and opinions on the economy, markets, investing trends—as well as commenting on other blog posts.

There is an expression that says: “out of mind, out of sight”. Truly this saying goes for the organizations that have to sustain and grow in this cutthroat market. Now the marketers have come up with an idea of reaching their customers through social media.

Here I would like to share a few points from a book I read on social media: Likeable Social Media by Dave Kerpen:

Word-of-Mouth Marketing Through Social Media

A year ago, if you wanted to find a lawyer or accountant, you might have a done a Google search and found practices that had spent money on search engine marketing so their site would be the first to pop up on the screen. Now to find a lawyer or accountant, you can do a Facebook search of your trusted friends or colleagues and find a practice that they have given their approval of. Are you more likely to pick a lawyer or doctor at random from an online search or rely on the recommendation of a friend?

A friend’s recommendation is more powerful than any advertisement. Word-of mouth marketing has always been considered the purest, least expensive and most effective form of marketing, and social media has continued to prove this fact in many ways.

Websites for doctors, lawyers, accountants and other service professionals are set up now to convince prospective clients to call them –  to take action now – but what if they were set up to generate ‘Likes’?  If every professional took the time to say to all their current clients, “If you are satisfied with our services, please “Like” us on Facebook or ask us questions on our Facebook page”, they’d instantly begin creating a valuable network and also building a clientele who highly trusts them.

Don’t just tell your customers to like you; tell them why they should like you. Make it about them, not about you, and you’ll get the “likes” and “follows” you’re craving to grow your social media network and sales overall.


You can use gamification depending on the type of clients you service. Gamification essentially means taking the help of points or rewards or recognition to make people interested in activities which otherwise would be boring or dull for them. A simple example would be to inculcate “fan of the week” or “Client of the Month” contests on your Facebook page, based on who shares the best financial idea, story, picture or video. People just love rewards and recognition.

Examples of the Financial Services Industry Using Social Media Effectively

CitiBank, one of the largest consumer banks in the USA, is actively using Twitter to resolve customer complaints.

UK bank, HSBC, has been proving the worth of social media both on Facebook with their Advance and Student pages, and on Twitter.  HSBC Advance is a pilot by the global banking team to test whether its customers wanted to communicate via Facebook.  They do. In just under one year, HSBC Advance has over 76,000 fans and handles all kinds of customer services issues. HSBC’s social media team also drew praise recently for a demonstration of how social media can assist in a crisis. Their Twitter account kept customers updated during a technical failure which resulted in a cash machine outage.

Social Media is Easy

Another thing that makes social media useful is the ease with which existing material can be copied or recycled: a YouTube video may be easily reposted to a Facebook page, an article on e-paper can be easily shared on Facebook and Twitter, and a blog entry may be tweeted and retweeted.

Before going out and using social media or technology, a crucial question should be asked. The question you should be asking yourself is: how is this solution going to benefit my client and/or my practice? Often, simply buying the latest fad and then trying to figure out a way to fit it into the operations of a firm is counter-productive and can lead to a waste of valuable time.

Social Media Pros and Cons

Like a coin has two sides of it, the availability of social media has its pros and cons. Social media is a means by which a person or an organization gets exposed to innumerable readers. Any company could face negative comments. It is impossible to please everyone all of the time, but handling criticism or negativity by going on the offensive can cause even more harm. Negative feedback should be handled intelligently by the company’s spokesperson. Often, negative comments can become a great opportunity to impress upon readers the value of your services.

It’s a real commitment to establish and maintain the sort of instant, two-way dialogue that social media channels provide and cultivate, but I believe using social media and technology successfully—and compliantly—necessitates a good investment of time, energy, and resources.

Do not forget to add me as your friend on Facebook, follow me on Twitter & keep in touch via LinkedIn. 

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