One of the stories pinging around on the Internet a couple of weeks ago was Goldman Sachs' plan to hire a social media community manager. While most concluded that it was "the toughest job on Wall Street," I happen to think otherwise. It's actually my "dream job," as difficult as it may be. While it might be intensely challenging and would definitely require absolute vigilance, the upside is huge. I think this is the ultimate opportunity to prove the potential impact that social media can have in managing reputation and tipping point to move the needle in the all-important "court of public opinion." Executing a digital strategy for Goldman Sachs that would change the sentiment of both the public and Wall Street would be the validation that social media, especially in the financial services sector, really works. It's the ultimate use case.
In Willam Alden's New York Times DealBook piece, "Goldman Looks To Hire Social Media Strategist," he points out the qualification, "Ability to work well under pressure." The pressure that the Goldman Sachs (GS) social media community manager will work under is oppressive. The scrutiny will be extensive. The stakes are the highest ever to be played out on the global stage of social media platforms. Some of the "bosses" that will want to weigh in include: corporate compliance, legal, regulatory, human resources, marketing, public relations and, perhaps, board of directors in this case. FINRA and SEC will pay close attention to all of the content. It's no wonder that the @GoldmanSachs Twitter account remains dormant now with zero tweets and 4,119 followers eagerly waiting for something. Financial service firms, in general, have been hesitant and late to start using social media. In my experience, the legal and compliance departments wield the power to control the messaging. They take a conservative approach to interpretation of regulation and will be focused on implementing a restrictive environment under the guise of compliance. In order for the GS social media manager to be successful, the opposite needs to happen. Some of the most powerful elements of social media marketing including transparency and authenticity need to be leveraged. If used effectively, they can create a palatable change in the GS image and lead the way to a change in the public's perception of Wall Street.
So if I was the Goldman Sachs' Social Media Community Manager, what would I do first? Enlist and engage internally. Greg Smith's letter exposed some of the "sour grapes" in the ranks in GS. While one may not represent the sentiment of many, his letter proved how powerful the media (and social media) can be. I would begin by self-selecting a group of internal "community managers" who are already engaging in social media, express interest and enthusiasm in being part of change at GS. Next, I would begin "listening" to the chatter on social media platforms about GS. Analytic tools exist that can report on what is being said and how frequently about a brand, product, etc. These reports roll-up thousands of occurrences of words and phrases to provide useful metrics of all kinds.
Listening to the conversation on social media platforms is one of the most overlooked opportunities. I find even most experienced social media strategists forget to listen. Most social media experts continually talk about content, content, content. It's analogous to talk, talk, talk. By the same token, there is so much to be learned by listening. At the speed of light, there are zillions of posts, tweets, blogs, likes, emails, texts and voice being transmitted without interruption 24/7. Social media analytical tools help make it all make sense. Quantifiable reporting on chatter and conversations can be converted into metrics. Online reputation management has suddenly become an active exercise that's measurable. You can see occurrences of positive messaging as well as negative messages. You can watch representational change happen in small increments in real-time.
According to Wikipedia, reputation management is "the process of tracking an entity's actions and other entities opinions about those actions; reporting on those actions and opinions, and reacting to that report creating a feedback loop. When I read the job description, I was glad to see that they listed "restoring their reputation." GS SMCM (Goldman Sachs Social Media Community Manager) will use tools from firms including Radian 6 and Visible Technologies to "generate" insights as to the existing online conversation about Goldman Sachs. The position calls for up to 60 percent of the time spent listening and analyzing the online conversation happening about GS and related topics on all social media platforms including LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
Another reason for my interest and enthusiasm in tackling the role of GS SMCM is that its existence signals a change in Wall Street sentiment toward what is considered a "fad" and "The Wild West." Success in this firm, at this time, would be a boon for social media in the larger scope of things. I think that Goldman Sachs has given credence to social media marketing and community building in the financial services' world. Compliance and regulatory concerns can be addressed, policies and procedures created, training can be accomplished and we can cross this rubicon together. For GS and other financial services firms at the present time and certainly in the near future, it's riskier to "do nothing" than to "do something."
In my opinion the "road to redemption" and future online reputation management for Goldman Sachs and many other firms will be paved with stones labeled LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google + and so on.
Follow April Rudin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TheRudinGroup