Social media has established itself as a major public relations, marketing, brand management and business tool. More and more companies appear with more or less valuable social media presentations. One that is a newbie in the social media world is on my chopping block today: Goldman Sachs
As an ex-banker, I take a close look at the financial services industry and its social media presence. Looking at the organizations in the industry, I mostly break out in tears about the poor social media appearance and activity of these business leaders. The biggest reasons for my tears, besides huge competition, they all have reputation issues and leave a major opportunity for improvement on the table. Banks for example have mostly been on the “not so popular list” with a big part of the population, for multiple reasons. The latest, and most important, the financial crisis. No need to discuss the facts here, the banks and other financial industry related organizations have taken big hits, not only in dollars, but also when it comes to their and the entire industry’s reputation.
Social media presence and activity is a major driver, in multiple areas. Since Goldman Sachs is not short of business and profits, lets neglect the sales and marketing aspect of social media in this case. Let’s focus more on the aspect of brand management and reputation, both areas the firm clearly has a need for improvement. In my book, Goldman is a beginner in social media, and it is visible. While around for over a year, the company has only managed to establish a presence on three social media platforms. For a company of the size of Goldman Sachs, this is a rather weak accomplishment, considered the strong need of support the brand actually has and considered that Goldman Sachs should not have a budget issue when it comes to their brand’s reputation. There is no real reason why Goldman shouldn’t be present on a few more platforms and there is no reason why Goldman can’t be the leader of the financial industry in the social media world. I know that the entire financial industry likes to hide behind “regulations”, but let me make that clear, this is a rather lame excuse for being afraid of exploring unknown territory.
Goldman Sachs has a rather well put together website with lots of good content. Like all the financial institutions, they clearly have no shortfall in content to socially market their brand and business. The firm has an active presence on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. LinkedIn is a rather “static” social media presence and doesn’t differ much from the content on the website. The page is important for job seekers and potential clients to check on the company’s standard statements. I am not saying that the LinkedIn page can be neglected, I am just saying the LinkedIn page is not the tool for daily activities in brand management and marketing, at least not yet (For those that have to, I am willing to discuss this).
The most important tools for daily activities and support for the brand are Google+, Facebook and Twitter. Out of the three, Goldman is only active on Twitter. The firms promoted content on Twitter is outstanding. Lots of important and interesting information, not only for big business, but also for small businesses and individuals. Over the relatively short time on the platform, Goldman has managed to be followed by about 63,000 people. However, for a big dog like Goldman, this is way below the possibilities and doesn’t give enough credit to the good content. Much worse, and a sign that there is a social media struggle, Goldman only follows about 100 other accounts. Considered the background and needs of the firm, that one can be called social media blunder. Goldman is not alone in this case, most major brands are sitting in the same boat. Keep in mind, follow-backs can turn into major numbers when it comes to new followers, reach and visibility. If the firm manages to engage with followers, it will increase reach substantially. With a little effort, this platform has a lot of potential for Goldman.
Goldman also has a presence on YouTube. A pretty good one actually, that also has a lot of potential. The content is just as outstanding as on Twitter, if not better, because of the fact that video is a better match for YouTube than it is for Twitter. However, just like on Twitter, all the good stuff is accompanied by some blunders. On YouTube, comments are disabled! This is a major blunder and while Goldman might have reasons for that, this problem/reason should be solved quickly. Some videos have 20,000+ views, but visitors can’t leave comments and the firm misses out on a great opportunity to engage with the public and, again, increase reach and subscribers.
With all the shortfalls on the diverse social media platforms, in my opinion, Goldman is doing much better than many other big brands, especially those in the financial industry. The main reason for this is the strong content. The firm should very quickly start using their already established pages on Google+ and Facebook and staff all “branches”. Each of these social media platforms are branches and must be treated as such.
The mentioned shortfalls have an impact on multiple important business areas: Sales and business development, marketing, brand awareness, brand management, brand reputation, talent acquisition and many others. A major player such as Goldman must do better. In fact, as already mentioned above, Goldman Sachs should be the leading social media player in the financial industry. Don’t forget, social media is not only about just being there, brand management and reputation, social media is a major sales and business driver, if you treat it as such.