The march of social media continues into the stodgy world of finance, as Salesforce, the ubiquitous customer relations management tool, adds an app to help advisors Tweet, LinkIn, FaceBook and IM with their clients.

Actiance, a firm that helps companies utilize social media, on Tuesday announced the integration of its Socialite platform with in a new product called Socialite Engage. It’s the first social media enablement platform to work with Salesforce’s CRM data, so now advisors and their managers can track and analyze sales discussions with clients in their blogs and throughout the Tweet-o-sphere.

“That’s how people are communicating these days, and they’ve got to figure out how to do it, and stay compliant, and still benefit from those relationships,” said Carol Alexander, vice president of marketing at Actiance.

A plugged-in advisor can have thousands of contacts through various social media sites. The software can organize and keep tabs on every prospect on every platform and connect it into On a single dashboard advisors can corral their LinkedIn connections, their FaceBook friends and their Twitter followers.

The software allows advisors to send messages to every client, or narrow the message to a select group of key connections. It can also cut down on the white noise of cyberspace by allowing advisors to review the messages of just that group – or another subset of clients.

For example, an advisor can select clients she knows are expecting a baby or due to exercise stock options and follow their Tweets and LinkedIn and FaceBook messages.

“You want to make sure you’re listening to life events – say when something happens that would cause them to need more insurance,” said Alexander. “And I want to make sure I can respond to that.”

Each communication can be recorded and tagged for follow up in Salesforce. The software has an analytical tool so advisors can evaluate the impact Tweets and other messages are having on sales with new and existing clients. For compliance purposes, the software captures all posts as well as deleted messages and commentary in context. It also allows for exporting data to an archive.        

The software can put out pre-approved content, such as market analysis messages from the firm, as well as streamline the process of getting approval for advisors’ own messages from their compliance departments or managers.

Advisory firms are embracing social media at varying paces. Raymond James and Robert W. Baird are already using Socialite to allow advisors to engage with clients over all social media, in addition to using it to send out preapproved content from the firm itself, as well from a library, which includes articles from the financial press.

Two of the top three wirehouses have been dipping their toes in the social media waters, primarily using it to “listen” for major events in key clients’ lives. The idea is to move slowly into the realm of allowing advisors to generate their own content, which will still be subject to internal review, according to Alexander.

“That’s where we’re seeing a lot of activity, in firms that want to allow that. These companies are trying to figure out what that policy should be. They’ve made the decision to do this, now want to figure it out,” she said.

Actiance cited a May 2011 Social Business survey conducted with IDC, which found that 51% of companies were using a consumer social media tools for communicating with customers. A further 43% were creating awareness about a company product or service, while 43% were using the tools to acquire knowledge or ask questions.

“Businesses understand that social sites can add value to the company's sales teams, but haven’t deployed the right tools to fully track specific social media activities and map that activity to a prospect or customer’s entire profile,” Scott Whitney, VP of product management at Actiance, said in a press release.

“Working with Salesforce, we’re bringing sales conversations and related social interactions together for the first time, greatly enhancing the information sales managers and teams have on prospective clients,” he added. “The impact of social media on a businesses’ bottom line can now be mapped to specific activity, showing true ROI of these new forms of communications.”

Elizabeth Wine writes for On Wall Street.



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