In the financial services industry, compliance departments are up in arms because of industry rules requiring firms to retain records of all the social media conversations that their advisors are having. The Securities and Exchange Commission has been reported to be conducting a sweep of registered investment advisers’ use of social media and social networking (Investment News 2/14/2011). What’s the big fear?
The regulatory agencies like the SEC and FINRA want to make sure that advisors are not promising investors returns or engaging in promotion of unregistered funds, such as private-equity funds or hedge funds through social media or social networking sites.
But many advisors that understand their limitations using social media and their compliance departments’ challenges in retaining online messages, have found using social media to be a very valuable tool. Within their firms’ guidelines, they are using social media sites to push (not push and pull) out much needed brand exposure, credibility and a searchable online presence – not as a way to conduct illicit activities. So ultimately, the biggest fear with social media shouldn’t be the regulatory agencies or compliance but something else entirely.
Once you have established an online presence, the most important task is in front of you – protecting your reputation! Much as you would protect your credit, regularly check for activity connected to your name and your business. Sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter all rank highly in Google searches. Be careful what you post, anything you say could permanently show up at the top of search engine searches. Think of yourself as a public figure that may have your every word scrutinized.
One of the easiest ways to monitor your reputation is by setting up Google Alerts that will inform you of anything that has appeared about you online. Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your choice of query or topic. Go to www.Google.com/Alerts and set up a free alert of your name and your firm’s name. Whenever anything appears online that you or someone else has posted about you, an email will be sent to you with a link to the online occurrence.
Ultimately, the best way to manage your online reputation is by generating positive search results through your online posts and profiles that will rank as highly as possible on any list of search results. Protect your most important assets – your brand and online reputation.