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Social media cannot replace direct client contact

I recently read how Facebook is losing millions of members in its most developed markets. In the same week I also read how snail mail is staging a comeback. All of which must come as a bit of a relief to those firms and advisers that are still without a website, let alone a social media policy. For a moment they must have thought the rest of the world was going stark raving mad and that now perhaps things will return to normal.

However, dig behind the headline and a slightly different story emerges. Yes, some people are ditching Facebook but they are not deserting the internet or social media sites, rather they are becoming more selective.

A recent study ranks the UK as the leading country in the world for per capita e-commerce spending and second largest online advertising market after the US. The UK consumer is apparently very comfortable with online retailing and marketing – and that includes financial services.

What we are probably seeing is email fatigue and a resistance to sharing everything with all and sundry who happen to find you on Facebook.

If clients are feeling as overwhelmed by emails, newsletters and information as I am, they have my sympathy. The trick, though, is not to throw the baby out with the bath water. The internet and social media should not be ignored but used in a manner that supports clients and delivers information that is suited to these outlets.

We need to remember that we work in a very personal business and clients want to feel valued, remembered and respected. Does this explain why the re-emergence of snail mail is being accompanied by an increase in quality writing materials as well.

There are some things the internet can do but a handwritten note of congratulations on a birthday, wedding or anniversary is not one of them.

I wonder just how valued people feel receiving another email telling them a charitable donation has been made in lieu of a Christmas card.

As it happens, we have always sent Christmas cards and almost always penned a personal message inside, which is so much better than half a dozen signatures from office staff.

I find that most of my clients enjoy a decent bottle of claret with a hand-written note, which brings me to another recent discovery that wine bottle corks are making a comeback. It seems we want a wine experience that has a bit more theatre than a simple screw cap. Perhaps our clients want a bit more theatre than a blog or a tweet?

One to ponder over a glass of perfectly poured Pomerol.

Dennis Hall is managing director of Yellowtail Financial Planning

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Comments

There are 4 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Bit disappointed that Dennis chose to have his note to me published online and to let me know he had written it by Money Marketing sending me an alert email.
    Next time Dennis wishes to tell me something hopefully he’ll come round with the note in person (and a bottle of something fruity) and read it out to me.
    😉

  2. And yet I read recently that if Facebook was a country it would be the world’s third largest by population. Over 30bn pieces of content are shared on Facebook each month.

    34 hours of video are posted on YouTube every minute and 83% of the UK population use the Internet and Social Media is an important part of that.

    95 million Tweets are written every day by 175 million Twitter users.

    Statistics not to be ignored BUT this will never replace human interaction face to face but goodness it does compliment it

    And with financial services described as still in the 1950’s by Dame Deidre Hutton at the Financial Conduct Authority Approach to Regulation conference on Tuesday the internet and Social Media is certainly one way to drag it into this century.

    Ps did Pomerol ever come in a screw top bottle?!

  3. Simon Kershaw 1st July 2011 at 7:25 pm

    I seem to be blessed with clients who do not communicate with me by tweet, txt or Facebook (I’m not on it, which helps). They seem to like personal contact by telephone and face to face, and many enjoy a decent claret on occasion.

    Martin, I have yet to taste a Pomerol with a screwtop or plastic cork and hope that the price of Petrus and Le Pin will long deter such Spanish practices.

    Thank God for people who know the value of everything and care little about the price.

  4. John Blackmore 3rd July 2011 at 7:36 pm

    Agree completely that personal contact is best but have never been able to see the point in the annual “personal” note. If you can fake sincerity – that sort of thing.

    Wine, Port, Brandy are all a good idea – though I find that it is my clients who give them to me and not the other way round.

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