For an industry that is always trying to be on the cutting edge of technology, the financial world always has been a little slow to adopt new forms of communication. That was true when cell phones were introduced, when text messaging became popular and again is the case with social media.
The FIA IT Division tried to put some social media concerns to rest at a round table discussion after its annual meeting on June 6. Of chief concern during the roundtable were issues of compliance, particularly as it relates to National Futures Association (NFA) rules.
Morad Askar, executive vice president at VanKar Trading Corporation (@FuturesTrader71), summed up his thoughts on Twitter quite succinctly saying, “Twitter is nothing more than a text message people subscribe to.” Realizing, of course, that it is much more public than a text message.
The biggest concern about Twitter and most other social media platforms has related to disclosure, specifically how to be fair and balanced in a 140 character tweet. Although not a part of the round table, a NFA representative in attendance explained the association’s stance as being if you write anything about profits in a tweet, then you need to have a disclosure, and NFA does not agree with click-away disclosures.
Of course, there are plenty of other considerations, and throughout the discussion participants encouraged brokers to call the NFA if they have any questions, especially because the NFA is funded by the industry.
With so many possibilities, it can be hard to know where to begin when setting up a social media strategy. Another panelist, Jeff Carter, an independent trader and blogger (@PointsnFigures) recommended two books as jumping off points: “Groundswell” by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, and “World Wide Rave” by David Meerman Scott.
Although Twitter and other forms of social media have become a great way to engage and actually interact with customers, Askar cautioned that you do need to be careful about what you say in a tweet because once you hit send, it is out of your control. That tweet can be re-tweeted any number of times and be modified with every re-tweet, likening Twitter to the game telephone.
Ultimately, although the financial industry has been slow to adopt new forms of communication in the past, it’s becoming more important for brokers and companies to know and engage with their customers. As Diane Saucier, vice president, global market development at Trading Technologies (@ChicagoDiane) said, people are already talking about you over social media, and if you’re not on it, you’ll never know what they are saying.