Branding, Influencing, Uncategorized

Building a Social Media Brand in Financial Services – My Conversation with Tash Elwyn

I first became aware of Tash Elwyn early in 2014. He’s the president of the Raymond James & Associate’s Private Client Group.

I was working on an article about business leaders that had embraced social networking in financial services when I came across this Wall Street Journal article and quote from Tash Elwyn:

“Having a social media brand is going to demonstrate credibility and professionalism,” but only if a firm’s use of it is genuine and creative, he says. “Our advisors are not restricted to canned corporate propaganda, but encouraged to share original thoughts.”

The phrase “canned corporate propaganda” caught my attention. It was a thinly-veiled reference to a growing debate in the financial services space about the value of pre-approved social media messaging versus personalized content created by advisors and business leaders themselves. It was clear where Elwyn came down in this debate.

The times they are a-changing for social networking in financial services. First, there is a growing recognition that social is not only, or even most importantly, about pushing out marketing messages. Social networking is about communicating, extending relationships and building engagement with clients and prospects. Second, there are increasingly clear regulatory signals and effective software solutions in place to manage the compliance risks implicit in personalized Tweeting.

The recent announcement by Morgan Stanley to permit their advisors to author their own Tweets is further evidence of which way the wind is blowing.

How a Financial Leader Makes Social Networking Work

Tash Elwyn has demonstrated his leadership by putting his money where his mouth is when it comes to direct, personal social networking. Over the past several months, I have been following him on Twitter and I’ve been impressed with his dedication and social media acumen.

I reached out to Tash Elwyn in order to find out how a busy financial services leader finds time for social and why he’s chosen to make it a priority.

@JayPalter: I see that you are interacting on Twitter yourself. Why do you think it’s important for a person in your position to participate in social networking directly, yourself?

@TashElwynRJ: While I believe it’s important for business leaders to engage in social media to help build and reinforce their brand and values, to be most impactful the communications should be authentic and personal. Financial services is a relationship business and authentic social media is an excellent tool for building and maintaining relationships both for our financial advisors and for me in my leadership role in our Private Client Group.

@JayPalter: You are busy and have lots of competing pressures on your time. How do you justify spending time in social networks? What is your big picture objective?

@TashElwynRJ: My objective is to reinforce our firm’s positioning as the premier alternative to Wall Street for advisors and clients alike. Part of doing so is to demonstrate that we are approachable, engaging, and thought leaders in our profession. Social helps make this all possible.

@JayPalter: How much time are you actually investing in social networking on a weekly basis? How do you actually squeeze that time out of your day? Do you have any tricks or tips to share about making time in your busy day?

@TashElwynRJ: The time commitment varies from day to day, but by making social media a priority it becomes a habit and as such rarely does a day go by that I don’t see a news story, event, article, or at least a good BBQ place to tweet about. I’m not one to spend too much time in front of the TV – I greatly prefer to consume information via Twitter on my iPad, and as I do, the desire to share what I find interesting happens naturally.

@JayPalter: I see you are on Twitter. Why have you chosen this social network among others? LinkedIn is generally the first network of #finserv professionals and while I see you have a profile there, you do not seem to be as active on LinkedIn.

@TashElwynRJ: I’m just as active on LinkedIn as I am on Twitter although my social media begins with Twitter and is then largely, if not entirely, mirrored on LinkedIn. My network on LinkedIn is a bit deeper than on Twitter. I use both networks to not only share my thoughts, but just as (if not more) importantly to stay abreast of what’s happening with those I follow both inside and outside of Raymond James. Each platform has its own distinct characteristics and advantages, and I like to engage with my networks via both.

@JayPalter: Can you name a few people that you follow on Twitter who you consistently feel add value to your experience?

@TashElwynRJ: @SachaOnMoney is a great example of a Financial Advisor (and an RJ Financial Advisor at that) who is doing social media right. @CraigKielburger is one of the most inspirational and motivational people that I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting and I love following him on Twitter to see how he and his team at @FreeTheChildren continue to make the world a better place for generations to come.

Note: This is not a sponsored post. I have received no compensation from Raymond James for this article. I am a genuinely interested in the thought processes and daily habits of busy financial services professionals who have chosen to pursue an online engagement strategy utilizing social networks.

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  1. I love the term canned corporate propaganda. That is what everyone is doing, the path of least resistance. It’s easy to take something and re-post it, but in terms of real value it adds little.
    The whole point of social media is personality. By showing a little about who you are and what you represent, prospects and peers will become engaged and lean on you as a thought leader and forward thinker.
    I think you’ll see more and more advisors embrace the idea of trying to make social media their own. The hurdle to overcome will be when they realize how much time it takes.

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