By @SimonCocking. Insightful interview with Jay Palter Influencer marketing strategist & speaker for hire. I help & firms use social networks to build & in & .


What’s your background briefly?

My background is pretty diverse, actually. I’ve worked in tech and financial services for over two decades – as a web entrepreneur and software developer, then as an insurance advisor and, in the last seven years, as a digital media consultant and strategist. Way, way back, I cut my teeth on philosophy – which helps explain why my favourite question is WHY. Oh, and a stint early in my career as an ecological activist, community organizer and PR spokesperson.

Does it seem like a logical progression to what you do now?

Strangely, yes. I was an early internet adopter, started using email in the late 1980s and taught myself web development in the mid-1990s. Fast forward to the past decade and we can start to see how much social media has disrupted communications and disintermediated access to audiences. Today, these powerful communication and audience-building tools are available to all of us, yet many businesses and individual business leaders – especially in the financial services space – have not yet figured out how to effectively leverage these tools. My experience as a self-taught technologist, publicist and community activist turns out to be exactly the skills I need to help businesses and their leaders thrive in the digital media ecosystem.

One minute pitch for what you do now?

I help businesses and their individual leaders tap into powerful communities of influence online. This means actively curating and sharing content to a variety of social platforms, articulating thought leadership in your target industry vertical and cultivating relationships with online influencers. My focus is in financial services and fintech, but the principles of influencer outreach and engagement are applicable in virtually any business-to-business (B2B) setting.

Why is it important for leaders and firms to use social networks to build personal brand?

That’s really two separate questions: why use social networks and why use them to build your brand?

First, online social networks are how we participate in communities today – how we meet people and stay in touch with them. Technological change is accelerating, so staying current with information in any sector is a huge challenge. The communication of knowledge and innovative thinking is a highly social process and smart business leaders learn how to use social networks to keep current. So, the first answer is that social networks are important because they keep you informed and connected to your markets.

Second, if we are tuned into social networks and paying attention to the community of influencers that have both knowledge and targeted audience in our space, this is an obvious place to want to build our own brand and thought leadership. Business decision-makers are looking for social proof when they make purchasing decisions. They want to buy from leaders in their industry. Smart B2B companies want to position themselves and their solutions as industry-leading. But people also buy from people, so developing one’s personal brand effectively in social networks helps to attract business opportunities. People do business with people they know, like and trust – and that’s why personal engagement in social networks is important.

What tips would you give for people looking to do this? (What advice do you find yourself giving most often?)

My advice is to treat social networking as “networking” first and “marketing” second. Focus on building relationships with influencers, not marketing yourself or your product/service to them. These are influential people in your industry and they have connections and audiences – social capital, if you will – that you want access to. Invest the time and energy in getting to know them. Be interested in what they are writing and sharing and help promote them. That’s the single most important thing to do in social networks: if you want attention online, shine the light on others whose insights influence your own thinking. If you want attention, visibility and influence, start by paying it forward.

How do you help someone to find the right social media platform to use?

For B2B businesses, and particularly in financial services, LinkedIn and Twitter are the primary social networks. LinkedIn is the business network for anyone selling anything – and we’re all selling something. Twitter is, in my experience, one of the most social platforms and certainly has emerged in financial services as a thought leadership tool. Don’t be fooled by all the talk of Twitter’s demise – it has its problems, to be sure, but until another platform replaces its role in disseminating real-time news it’s an important platform to invest your time in.

Of course, active blogging is important for developing thought leadership and, depending on the context, a case can be made for engaging and building audience in other social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, even SnapChat. At the end of the day, you need to be where you audience is.

What trends are you excited about in Finserv & Fintech?

There is so much going on these days, technologically speaking, it’s hard to know where to start. I’ve been fascinated with machine learning and artificial intelligence for a long time and I think it’s going to have a major impact on everything to do with our finances. In the more immediate term, I’m enthusiastic about the trend toward partnerships between fintech startups and finserv incumbents.

How soon will we see blockchain technologies providing useful services? (If at all?)

Seems to me that there are many blockchain applications in the pipeline, but it remains to be seen how they are configured and function in the real world. I am far from an expert in blockchain applications, but I have compiled a list of blockchain influencers that I would recommend to anyone that wants to follow the thought leaders in the space.

Will we see the disappearance of money any time soon? Any other big predictions for 2017?

If you asked me this question 6 months ago, I would have said no. But in the wake of the demonetization activities undertaken by the government in India recently, I’m now of the opinion that it’s more possible. As for other predictions, I’m not much for prognostication and, frankly, how can anyone predict anything at the dawn of this new American administration?

If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking

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