Is social media building a more sociable market or just building lazy marketers?

09 Mar 2017

Last week one of my contacts shared a great piece (though of course now I’ve finally say down to write this somewhat predictably can’t find it anywhere!).  It basically said that if the author was going to agree to LinkIn with someone, don’t then ruin it by immediately following up the acceptance with a direct message containing a clumsy sales pitch.

I was in the middle of three things when I read this so may not have liked/shared it as I should’ve (which will explain why I can’t find it now) but it did stick with me.

Firstly I started to notice how many people on Twitter were doing it. 

Personally I adhere to the ‘if someone thinks I’m worth following then I’ll follow them back’ mantra.  However now I was looking for the immediate sales message, I noticed straight away that the author of the LinkedIn post was bang on.  One in three or four follow backs generated a little red tag above the messaging icon and lo and behold, they were all cut and paste sales pitches.  I simply turned my attention from the messaging icon to the dustbin icon in response.

Then came the first LinkedIn example (or the first I was actively aware of at least). 

Again when it comes to LinkedIn I know the rules and in the vast majority of cases at least, I will only connect with someone I know or with whom I share a mutual contact.  The other day I LinkedIn with someone in the financial services market.   It may have been a moment or weakness, I may have only been half paying attention or – more likely – I just accepted as he was badged up with a heavyweight brand and I know some other people there who are good guys.

Anyway seconds after connecting I received this:

Dear Douglas,

I hope this email finds you well. I am an appointed representative of [x].

I am passionate about helping clients enhance and protect their wealth in the most tax-efficient way for a secure future. I make it professional business practice to sit down with my clients for approximately one hour to assess their goals and aspirations, compare them to where they are now financially and identify if there are any tax-efficient planning opportunities.

Would you be happy for me to arrange a meeting for us (this week or next) in your [nearest location]? Or alternatively, please let me know a number and suitable time to call you for an initial discussion?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Now this irritated me on a number of levels:

1. I don’t know the chap.  Call me old fashioned but I think there should be some sort of relationship before you start discussing the finite details of someone’s finances, family or future. 

2. It was very obviously a cut and paste job.  If you are genuinely passionate about your clients surely you’d tailor your opening salvo?  And maybe you’d write or email rather than use a social media platform?  My profile gives my email and URL and tells you what music I like and which football team I support.  Any of those could have provided a less risky way to start a conversation.  

3. It’s pushy and clumsy and not in any way congruent with my understanding of the proposition of a wealth management firm.  I’d think twice if I got something like this from a double glazing or car salesman never mind someone who wanted to take responsibility for my children’s inheritance.

Maybe I was tired but I decided to reply – politely … no honestly – pointing out I am already a client of one of his main competitors but that this (BD) was kind of my day job and maybe he’d like to reconsider his approach.  Unsurprisingly his reply was very much of the ‘thanks but not thank’ variety and very clearly stated he knew best.  Hopefully he can support his arrogance when he’s hauled up to explain why he has no new leads …

Anyway, my personal irritation aside, I thought it was absolute reinforcement of the sentiment behind the original share that had caught my eye only days before.  LinkedIn is a really good business tool.  It can help you start conversations, maintain conversations with little real effort, stay visible to your contacts and clients and reach a brand new audience to boot but it will never be a short cut to trusted adviser status.

To me social media is about building a more sociable way of working, it’s about keeping up and keeping in with what your network is doing.  It is not an excuse to become a lazy marketer; cutting and pasting the odd generic message into your browser will not magically win people’s trust and generate the financial rewards you are charged with delivering.

And if anyone can reconnect me to the original piece, please do.  I’d love to say thanks in person for getting me thinking!

Posted by Douglas  |   0 Comments

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