Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Four Recent Studies on the Rapid Adoption of Social Media by Financial Advisors and Investors

In the Financial Services vertical, you can still find some who think that social media is not that important--that wealthy investors and licensed financial professionals are too busy and too serious to pay attention to (much less create) tweets and posts. The time has come to look at the data and discard groundless and dangerous beliefs about social media. Here are four recent studies that demonstrate social media has a key place in FinServ strategies:

Forrester Finds a Strong Correlation Between Social Communications and Financial Advisor Payments

In his July 2012 report, "Collaborative Advice: Using Digital Touchpoints To Enhance Advisor-Client Relationships," Forrester Vice President Bill Doyle shared data about affluent investors' digital interactions with advisors. The study demonstrated a strong correlation between the number of times these investors interact with financial advisors in social networks and the investors' payments for advisors' services. The correlation between advisor payments and the number of social media interactions (0.461) was almost twice as strong as the correlation with the number of interactions in person (0.234) or by phone (0.246).

It is important to point out that correlation is not causation. Doyle's data does not suggest that social media interactions are twice as powerful as in-person or phone interactions but that frequent interactions between affluent investors and advisors in social media are associated with greater revenue for advisors. While an advisor can interact with just one client at a time on the phone or in person, social media provides a way for advisors to reach and interact with many clients simultaneously. This study demonstrates the power of social media scale and social network relationships to financial professionals.

Accenture Finds Social Media Helps Financial Advisors Retain Clients and Increase Assets Under Management

Last Fall, Accenture surveyed 400 U.S. Financial Advisors and published "Closing the Gap: How Tech-Savvy Advisors Can Regain Investor Trust." The research found that digital and social tools "offer Financial Advisors unprecedented opportunities for more frequent interactions with their clients, helping them forge deeper, stronger relationships."

Among the Financial Advisors surveyed:
  • 60% have daily contact with clients through social media
  • 77% affirm that social media helps with client retention
  • 74% agree that social media helps them increase assets under management 
  • 73% say it has led to an overall increase in client interactions
  • 40% indicate they have gotten new clients through Facebook
  • 25% have developed new clients through LinkedIn
  • 21% have earned new clients through Twitter

Brunswick Group Finds Social Media Drives Investment Recommendations and Research

In its 2012 survey of 476 investment professionals (including both buy-side investors and sell-side analysts), Brunswick Group found considerable adoption of social media compared to its earlier 2010 survey. More importantly, the study found that investors are using social media to drive investment recommendations and research.

Among the findings:
  • 52% read business information postings on blogs (up from 47% in 2010) and 24% have made an investment decision or recommendation after initially sourcing information from blogs.
  • 30% read business information postings on micro-blog services (up from 11% in 2010); 12% of investors have made an investment decision or recommendation after sourcing information from micro-blog services (an increase of 200% since 2010).
  • 24% read business information postings on social networks (up from 17% in 2010), and 9% have made an investment decision or recommendation after initially sourcing info from a social network.
  • Investment professionals are increasingly posting and not just consuming information in social channels. In 2012, 11% said they post investment information to blogs (more than doubling since 2009), 8% post investment info to microblogs (up 50% since 2010) and 10% post investment information to social networks (doubling since 2010).
  • Overall, 56% of investment professionals say the role of digital and social media in the investment decision process is increasing compared to 6% who felt it was decreasing.

Cogent Research Finds Many Wealthy Investors Use Social Media for Finance and Investing 

In a survey of 4,000 US investors with more than $100,000 in investable assets, Cogent Research found that a growing number of affluent investors use social media specifically to help inform their personal finance and investment decisions. Among the findings:

While many firms are proceeding slowly and cautiously into social media, it seems many of our licensed financial professionals and our wealthy customers are adopting social media with more haste. In fact, the Accenture report notes that so many financial advisors are using social media that many are "likely flouting their firms’ current policies against this type of activity."

Forget keeping up with the competition. Financial Service firms ought to worry more about keeping up with their own sales networks, employees and customers.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Three Steps to Improve Ethics in Social Media Marketing

In my last blog post, "The Rapidly Diminishing Authenticity of Social Media Marketing," I explored how social media professionals have turned to tactics that undermine some of the core tenets promised by social media. We set larger fan counts as a goal above authentic advocacy, and when meaningful engagement became difficult to achieve, we settled for anything that would earn a like, reply or retweet rather than striving for content that fostered relationships and created value.

I will not rehash how I think these poor priorities and tactics undermined brand success in social media. (You can read my last blog post for that.) Instead, I want to explore a more sensitive question: Have social media marketers acted ethically or not?

For example, if we accept that a basic principle of social media is that "likes" represented something important--authentic brand affinity that others would see and rely upon--then what are we to think of those marketers and brands that took shortcuts to accumulate new fans who had no established relationship with the brand? Was it ethical to launch sweepstakes, contests and giveaways that motivated "likes" from people who otherwise were not inclined to express affinity for our brands?

And if we further agree that engagement such as replies, retweets and shares ought to be authentic signals of interest in what brands have to say, then are we acting ethically when we solicit engagement merely to elevate our brands' EdgeRank? Is asking Facebook users to "like" a post if they are on "team peanut butter" an ethical way to collect signals of affinity between consumer and brand, or is this a dishonest way to get our content into more users' news feeds?

Social Media Ethics on Display (or Not) During Week of Boston Marathon Tragedy

Instead of considering this in the abstract, let's examine two brands' actions last week, during the frightening events in Boston. NBC Bay Area posted a photo of a young bombing victim and implored people to "'Like' this to wish him a continued speedy recovery."  This desperate attempt to trade on people's feelings for a young victim of the bombing in order to receive a bit of EdgeRank-building engagement is horrifyingly unethical, in my book. (And if you do not agree, then please tell me how "liking" an NBC post lends support to or otherwise helps this poor hospitalized child.)

Ford, a brand I praised for authenticity in my last blog post, waded into dubious water with a Facebook status update following the capture of the second bombing suspect. The brand said, "To the first responders of Boston: Thank you. You are true American heroes." Nothing wrong with that--in fact, I love that a brand like Ford feels it can express sincere appreciation for the sacrifices of those who serve. The problem was that Ford didn't post that as text but included it within a beauty shot of their products, complete with the Ford logo and tagline.

Not everyone will agree, but I feel that Ford's use of brand imagery not only reduced the sincerity of the message but demonstrated questionable ethics. Before you disagree, I would ask you to view the two status updates below--one Ford could have posted and the other it actually did--and consider three questions:
  1. Which is a more authentic expression of appreciation to people who sacrificed their safety to protect us?
  2. What does the product and brand imagery of the post on the right add (if anything) to the sincerity of the gratitude compared to the simple text version?
  3. Which version more clearly puts the focus on the heroes in Boston? 
The version on the left imagines what Ford could have posted as text while the one on the right is what Ford actually posted following the capture of the second bombing suspect in Watertown, MA. 

Issues of ethics are difficult to discuss. They often are not clear cut, and while it is easy to see when a company crosses the line with both feet (as did NBC Bay Area), it can tough to discern as brands toe the gray line (as did Ford, in my opinion).

It is even tougher to see when you yourself cross ethical lines. If your boss wants to know why your brand has half a million customers but only 25,000 fans on Facebook, a sweepstakes to accumulate fans may not seem unethical. Your perspective may change, however, if you put yourself on the other side of this equation; if you do not want to see your friends becoming shills for brands in return for freebies and giveaways, then your brand should not follow this path. It is unethical to treat your own customers in a way you would not appreciate from the brands you buy or the people you know. (Fifty years ago, David Ogilvy, the father of modern advertising, expressed the same sentiment when he said, "Never write an advertisement which you wouldn’t want your family to read. You wouldn’t tell lies to your own wife. Don’t tell them to mine.")

We are roughly five years into the social media era, and I think perhaps it is time to reset our moral compasses, not to save our souls but to improve business results. Study after study demonstrate that consumers want something more from brands than silly images and memes; they want ethical behaviors and communications. The 2012 Edelman Trust Barometer Study found that customers increasingly expect brands to "place customers ahead of profits and have ethical business practices," and Interbrand's 2012 brand study noted that "Consumers... want to feel that the brands they love are, in fact, worthy of that love."

I'd like to believe this is always the case in every business situation, but when it comes to social media marketing, the ethical path also happens to be the best one for enhancing brands and business results. How can we improve both the ethics of social media marketing and our brands? Here are three steps:

STEP ONE: Understand Long-Standing Marketing Ethics, Advertising Rules and Regulation

"Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it". 
- Winston Churchill

I am frequently disappointed to find social media professionals who do not understand the basics of ethics and regulation in the advertising industry. Marketing has a long and well established history of recognizing and enforcing ethical practices, and government regulation of advertising is over one hundred years old. The issues we struggle with today in social media marketing are not new, nor are the core beliefs of ethical marketing. The latter can inform the former for those who care to learn history.

In 1911, the Associated Advertising Clubs issued the Ten Commandments of ethical advertising, and the first Commandment was unequivocal: "Thou shalt have no other gods in advertising but truth." (The italics are theirs, not mine.) Shortly thereafter, the Postal Act of 1912 required that advertising content be differentiated from editorial content. Together, these two actions established one of the most basic tenets of advertising ethics: That consumers must know when they are seeing advertising and not mistake it for editorial content. This is as true in the pages of newspapers as in the tweets and posts of your customers.

Although the core principles of ethical advertising have not changed in one hundred years, the regulatory language has evolved with technology. In 2009, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising." This document established that "When there exists a connection between the endorser and the seller of the advertised product that might materially affect the weight or credibility of the endorsement, such connection must be fully disclosed." In other words, if it would impact a person's perception of a friend's post about a brand to know that the individual was posting in exchange for a contest entry or a giveaway, that creates a material connection that must be disclosed.

Just last month, the FTC updated disclosure guidelines, providing quite detailed guidance. For example, the FTC notes that "#spon" is not a sufficient disclosure of a sponsored tweet since, "Consumers might not understand that '#spon' means that the message was sponsored by an advertiser." And to those who might protest that Twitter's 140-character limit does not provide sufficient room for a clear and conspicuous disclosure, the FTC says, "Tough luck." (Really, what the agency says is, "If a particular platform does not provide an opportunity to make clear and conspicuous disclosures, then that platform should not be used to disseminate advertisements that require disclosures.")

An understanding of the history of advertising ethics and FTC regulations is only the start. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued several decisions pertaining to social media that brands' must consider for their social media guidelines, monitoring policies and employment practices. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has oversight into how and when social media may be used to share information pertinent to investors. Different states have enacted laws with varied requirements for consumer and employee privacy in social media. And then there are the terms and conditions of the social networks themselves, which define what is and is not permissible. (It is shocking how often pages violate Facebook's Promotions rules as defined in the Facebook Pages Terms.)

In the relatively brief period since social media's birth, brands have been tripped up by a variety of unethical and unlawful behavior including meddling with competitors Wikipedia entries, fake community groups, fake endorsements, fake blogs, fake accounts, and other questionable activities. It is vital social media professionals know the laws, rules and ethical standards that have stood the test of time, and it is necessary for marketing leaders to ensure their social media teams are adequately trained and supervised.

STEP TWO: Improve Social Media Metrics

“Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts”
- Albert Einstein

Bad metrics lead to bad strategies. More than that, bad metrics can lead to unethical behaviors.

The Great Recession of 2009 was caused by many factors, but President Obama laid blame on the way executives were measured and compensated. He noted in a June 2009 speech that a "culture of irresponsibility" was an important cause of the crisis, and he criticized executive compensation that "rewarded recklessness rather than responsibility."

In some ways, many social media professionals are today being rewarded for recklessness rather than responsibility. Fans and engagement are not business metrics, but these are common line items on many social media scorecards and are used by social media agencies and vendors to validate performance. Any brand can count new fans, but how many are measuring the value delivered to the brand via social media? Instead of turning to the metrics that are easiest to collect, social media marketers must determine the metrics that best validate that their social media investments deliver upon the objectives (and if one of your goals is merely to collect fans, then the problem is not the metric but the goal).

This is the point in the blog post when I am supposed to furnish an easy answer for how to measure social media success; unfortunately, I cannot. The ways to measure success are as diverse as brands, audiences and corporate objectives. If you want to better educate your customers on your products, measure that. If you need to raise awareness, measure that. If increasing inbound traffic to your site is desired, measure it. If your brand is challenged to improve a particular perception attribute, then that is what you should measure. Start with your corporate goals and challenges; pick the metrics that align to those; determine the social media strategies that best deliver on those metrics; and execute!

As our investments in social media increase, so must the science and insightfulness of our metrics. Too many brands are merely counting things--fans, retweets, comments and likes--while ignoring the deeper and more meaningful measures of brand awareness, recall, consideration, association, preference and advocacy.  Smart social media professionals do not settle for ineffective metrics but work to educate peers and leaders on the social media metrics that matter for their brands.


"Of all feats of skill, the most difficult is that of being honest."
- Comtesse Diane

Honesty sounds easy, but complete honesty can be surprisingly tricky. Honesty is not merely the absence of falsehoods; telling no lies in your social networks is only the starting point. Thorough honesty requires something more--more self-reflection, more care and more vigilance. It requires integrity and sometimes even courage.

Honesty requires a tenacious commitment to complete transparency. If you encourage people to tweet a photo of your product in return for a chance to win a prize, complete transparency demands those tweets be accompanied with a disclosure. It is one thing for consumers to choose to tweet their brand love with no expectation of reward (even if the brand solicits those recommendations), but if your brand creates the conditions where someone is motivated to promote your brand in order to win something, you must ensure transparency. It is deceptive to look the other way and allow consumers to be exposed to sponsored advertising communications without disclosure.

Honesty necessitates assertive vigilance to ensure that your employees, vendors and agencies are doing the right thing. It is not sufficient to assume your employees and partners know how to act with integrity, nor is satisfactory to set expectations and assume adherence. Honesty requires a commitment to education and engagement around ethics, and it demands that your brand supervises and monitors activities to ensure policies and regulations are followed.

Honesty demands sincerity in the intent of your communications. In paid media, brands communicate to persuade and sell, but in social media consumers expect something different from brands--it is a medium where consumers can choose to follow, comment and share, or they can choose to unfollow, block and ignore. Engagement should be earned with content that actually engages, not with tricks. For example, if you care to take a poll on Facebook, use Facebook's "Ask question" tool to do so; do not mislead your customers with fake surveys that request they "like" if they believe one thing or "share" if they believe another. Your intent with this sort of deceptive status update is not to engage consumers or learn from their answers but to manipulate Facebook's EdgeRank system. Honest relationships cannot be built with dishonest communications.

Honesty requires that you enter conversations to authentically join the conversation, not to co-opt the conversation. A new trend in social media is so-called "real-time marketing" (or RTM), where brands attempt to engage in the conversations consumers are having about sports, entertainment or world events as they occur. While it is possible for brands to post just the right thing at just the right time in a way that consumers will welcome, much of the recent RTM has been brazenly self interested and thus unsuccessful. The problem is that brands have dishonestly attempted to inject advertising messaging into consumer conversations rather than trying to authentically express themselves or add value to those conversations. If your brand can bring value to the conversation, do so honestly, but if you just want to interrupt consumers' conversations with brand advertising, then stay silent honestly (or honestly pay for media).

Honesty demands that you walk the talk. Consumers are so jaded about the way brands try to obfuscate their actions behind dishonest communications that an entire new lexicon has developed, including terms like greenwashing, astroturfing, sugging and flogs. Social media allows brands to chart a different course, not simply talking about how much they care but highlighting their care through real actions. At a time when some brands will hold their charitable donations hostage in return for likes, shares and replies, New Balance donated $1 million to the One Boston fund and did so without asking for a single "like." The actions of the Chicago Tribune went viral this week after the news organization sent pizzas to the Boston Globe newsroom along with a note that said news colleagues "across the country stand in awe of your tenacious coverage. You made us all proud to be journalists." The honest actions of New Balance and The Trib speak louder than any words could, and they are resonating honestly throughout social media. (How does Ford's branded expression of gratitude fare in comparison?)

Social media may feel quite mature, given that virtually every brand and the vast majority of people in the US have adopted social behaviors, but the medium is still very young. Social media professionals may understand today's best practices, but these continue to evolve as brands gain experience, laws and regulations change and the medium matures. In periods of rapid evolution, it can be difficult to discern the ethical from the unethical, but it starts with you. Ethical social media starts with ethical social media professionals--ones who consider the impact of their strategies, constantly challenge their own beliefs and are willing to stand up for what is right and not merely what is easy.

The idea that ethics comes from within rather than externally is not new. For support, I turn to a philosopher who died 2400 years ago and an animated insect. Aristotle believed self-knowledge was the key to individual ethics, and he wrote, “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” Jiminy Cricket, Pinocchio's sidekick, echoed Aristotle's advice, reinforcing that ethics starts from self-knowledge: "Always let your conscience be your guide."

Before you click "submit" to your next social media post, do not simply ask if it will achieve its goal, fits best practices and suits the brand. Ask yourself if it is honest, transparent and ethical. That is a much higher standard, but higher standards are what consumers want and what brands increasingly wish to deliver, aren't they?

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Rapidly Diminishing Authenticity of Social Media Marketing

Join me in a journey back to a simpler time; a time of innocence, hope and more than a little naivety. I'm talking, of course, about 2008. Facebook has 100 million users, a mere 200,000 people access Twitter each week, no brands are doing anything more than experimenting with the nascent social medium and virtually no one is employed full time in the field of social media marketing.

Those of us who are predicting the future are writing about the power of this medium to create greater authenticity, to build trust and to surface genuine advocacy. Success will not be won, we emphatically declare, by the brand with the largest advertising budget but the brand that earns authentic relationships and activates authentic Word of Mouth based on trust, transparency and a commitment to do right by the customer. Brands that collect authentic fans and engage in authentic conversations will thrive while those that cheat to accumulate worthless fans and trivial conversations will suffer when consumers learn of the brands' inauthentic exploitation of the social medium.

Authentic, authentic, authentic--social media may hold many surprises as it matures, but by God, we know the future will be authentic!

Since then, social media has matured--we got that much correct--with consumers adopting social media in droves, making it a big business. Forrester reports that marketers will spend close to $3 billion this year on social media marketing, and with that kind of money comes a great deal of immediate corporate expectations. Authentically create fans? To hell with that, we want lots of "fans" and want them now. Who cares if they actually are fans (the kind that do not need to be bracketed within quotation marks)?

In the war for fans, authenticity was the first casualty, and the weapons deployed were sweepstakes, giveaways, contests and social game freebies. Einstein Bagels gave every new Facebook fan a free bagel, and it garnered a 7,000% increase in Facebook fans in just three days; perhaps a few of these folks were already fans--in the true sense of the word--but the vast majority had no affinity for the brand and were simply bought with a $1.10 bagel. Gerber deployed a baby photo contest in which those who wanted to vote for a friend's or relative's baby were required to become fans of the brand, regardless of whether they ever purchased a product from or had any relationship with Gerber. And Farmers Insurance gave away a freebie to Farmville players and set "the Guinness World Record for most 'likes' in a 24-hour period." (Does anyone else feel a bit queasy realizing there is a Guinness World Record for collecting "fans" that have absolutely no relationship with the brand? I wonder if Bernie Madoff gets his name included in the Guinness book for tricking the largest number of people with a Ponzi scheme.)

Weren't Facebook "fans" supposed to be authentic fans? According to the social media gurus, people who fanned a brand would be signalling their authentic affinity for it, and this genuine expression of brand love would ripple through trusted relationships in social networks, multiplying awareness and purchase intent from one consumer to the next to the next. This is not what happened for most brands, because most brands did not start with the most important thing: Fans with authentic affinity

No one benefited from the fact marketers used inauthentic means to amass meaningless fans. Although people could have gotten true value out of knowing which brands their friends love, today none of us can tell if our friends' likes were motivated by true brand advocacy or a Mafia Wars freebie. Marketers lost, as well. Thanks to EdgeRank, Facebook's algorithm to keep users' news feeds as interesting and sticky as possible, brands that accumulated disinterested fans failed to break through to most users' news feeds, and thus few "fans" ever see, much less engage with, brand status updates. The result is easy to see throughout Facebook--fan pages with huge fan counts but small ratios of them "talking about" the brands. Inauthentic fans cannot drive authentic engagement.

In desperate need of engagement to break through to fans' news feeds, many brands are opting to game Facebook's EdgeRank rather than build meaningful dialog--more inauthentic tactics piled upon inauthentic tactics. Why take the long, hard, authentic route of engaging people in a conversation about your product, service, brand or mission (or the things your customers really care about) when you can gather likes, replies and shares by posting pictures of puppy dogs or "Keep Calm" posters?

It is difficult, for example, to get people talking about insurance, risk and financial security, so Progressive's Flo rarely even tries; instead, she shares things like a picture of an ear of corn on a unicycle. (Oh, that Flo--it's a unicorn!) Other brands beg people to "like" if they believe one thing or "share" if they believe another. In my opinion, the nadir of inauthentic and desperate engagement tactics came when Blackberry challenged fans to "write out 'BlackBerry' one letter at a time in the comments box, without interruptions," resulting in almost 19,000 one-letter replies with "B," "L," "A," "C"... well, you get the idea.

Brands were supposed to build trusted networks with valuable content, and instead they have turned into carnival midway barkers, simultaneously shouting at passing customers hoping to catch the attention of one or two gullible enough to be hustled. Like us! Share this! Comment!

Thanks to the Condescending Corporate Fan Page for these examples.

How does any of this pass for authentic engagement that reflects authentic brand relationships? The better question is how can this sort of vapid, pandering "engagement" build brands? Are you encouraged to check out a brand, research its products or consider a purchase because one of your friends announced he or she is on "team Peanut Butter" by liking a post by GE Appliances? "OMG, my friend is on team Peanut Butter--I should buy a GE refrigerator," said no one ever.

Social media was supposed to strip away the meaningless clutter of the mass media era, exposing true brand affinity and advocacy; instead, social media marketing strategies have encouraged brands to post any meaningless thing in pursuit of a comment, like or share. The irony is that none of this actually helps brands--just as inauthentic fans cannot create authentic engagement, neither can inauthentic engagement build authentic brand value. Asking people to spell your brand name one letter a time or share your picture of a vegetable on a unicorn doesn't spark awareness, consideration, preference or usage.

For example, Einstein's freebie giveaway garnered hundreds of thousands of bought fans, but it did not prevent the company from stumbling. Today the brand has three quarters of a million fans and just 500 people "talking about" them. Moreover, six months after the Facebook stunt, Einstein reported disappointing revenue with same-store sales down more than a percent, and two years later, the company had the lowest earnings growth in its industry. So many "fans," so few fans.

For another example, Blackberry can get tens of thousands of people to type the letter "B" in a reply, but it cannot successfully launch the phone it desperately needs to succeed. In the United States, the new Z10 phone "started poorly and weakened significantly" after that. Look at its Facebook page, and Blackberry looks like a winner with 26 million fans; look at its stock performance, and you will see a company that has lost almost 90% of its market cap since the advent of the social era.

It turns out that, much like in every other marketing channel, it is possible to buy impressions but you cannot buy success in social media. Authenticity is not dead, you just have to look a little harder to find it in social media nowadays. You can find authenticity:

  • On Ford's Facebook page: Every post on brand. Every engagement focused on customers and enthusiasts. Not a single attempt to trick people in liking a post if they love tires or share a post if they think rear view mirrors are the bomb. Ford is a brand that conveys passion, focus, respect for customers and confidence in social media, and as a result, social media is credited with helping to build the brand and successfully launch products.
  • On Home Depot's Facebook page--and on its community, its blog, or the many online forums in which it participates:  Home Depot has earned praise and enhanced its business by putting its greatest asset--its experienced employees--to work answering consumer questions in the social networks where consumers are. The company does not dictate either the dialog or where consumers should interact with Home Depot but deploys resources and responds to consumer questions in the channels where customers are active.
  • On the Duck Tape Facebook page:  While the brand's 14,000 people "talking about" is disappointing given its fan count (of five million), you still have to hand it to a brand of adhesive tape for getting 14,000 people talking. I frequently hear from people who feel their brands have little interesting to say, and Duck Tape shows how creativity and crowdsourced ideas can help even a boring brand earn authentic engagement.
  • On the USAA Facebook page: My former employer continues to demonstrate how to mix highly-engaging content with serious information to educate consumers and build brand loyalty. The brand is not beyond posting a photo of smiling child wearing fatigues to celebrate the Month of the Military Child (and earning 10,000 likes for doing so), but other posts in the days before and after help fans learn how to switch accounts to USAA, furnish education on financial planning for a PCS (Permanent Change of Station in military speak) and address questions on flood insurance. 
It may be the exception and not the rule, but there are brands behaving authentically in social media. They collect the right fans, spark worthwhile dialog and--most importantly--authentically build business value in social media. They are not the brands that get a million fans in 24 hours, nor are they the ones pandering for likes and shares. 

The brands that succeed in social media do not take short cuts; they put their nose to the grindstone, focus on their customers and build their social footprints slowly but steadily. Authenticity cannot be bought, nor is it earned with a click of the "like" button. Authentic relationships and authentic conversations matter, and those are still earned the old-fashioned way--with care, shared values and hard work.