As social media use by financial professionals continues to grow, it’s not uncommon for an agent or financial advisor to begin by using their personal social media accounts for business-related activity. While this practice already raises red flags for compliance issues (always check with FINRA!), I want to tell you a cautionary tale that might make you think twice about mixing business with pleasure.
Along with using Facebook and Twitter, many agents are quick to join Pinterest, a popular site that acts as an online scrapbook of sorts. Now, for those of you unfamiliar with Pinterest, allow me to explain a few things first. Users are able to “pin,” or essentially bookmark their favorite articles, videos, websites, pictures, etc. so that they can view them later, and, at the same time, share the information with their followers. Similarly, users can “follow” other people or boards (where the information is organized) to see what they’ve pinned. At DIS, we follow quite a few agents who tend to post great articles, informative videos and humorous memes…and apparently a few other things.
It was a day like any other. I was on our company Pinterest account, pinning some great articles on Long-Term Care Insurance. I was also checking what can be considered the home page, or newsfeed, where I can see the information that’s been recently posted by the insurance professionals that we follow. I saw a few links to some great LTCi infographics, so I clicked on the agent who had found the information. Along with the typical boards of “Health Insurance” and “Sales Ideas,” he had a few personal boards as well, like “Paris” and “Humor”—not uncommon to see. But then, he had a board titled “Beauty.” Hmm…
I thought, well okay, that’s not too weird, right? I clicked on it to see it was filled with Baywatch-type photos of blonde women. Not quite work appropriate, but also not too horrible. But then I saw a board called “Random Acts of Sexiness” (keep in mind that you get to name your own boards). It was filled with degrading pictures of women doing household chores in skimpy clothing. And, wait for it, under that board was “B&W Sexy Mix,” which was filled with pictures of naked women. I unfollowed him immediately and I’m sure I wasn’t the first.
Now, if these posts were all on his personal Pinterest board, I would be put off, but not judgmental. To each his own and what not. But, this man was utilizing his Pinterest board for his business, a fact that’s confirmed by him having his company’s website verified at the top of his Pinterest home page. And unfortunately for him, his website has a link to his Pinterest page, so any potential customers can go look at his women-filled boards at any time.
Sadly, this whole problem could probably have been avoided if the agent knew enough to use Pinterest’s privacy feature, which lets you hide certain boards from public view. But he didn’t hide the boards. And he didn’t think about the fact that his personal use was affecting his business use and potential prospects.
I understand that it might seem easier to use our personal accounts for business purposes. It saves you the hassle of setting up new profiles, you might already have a large following, and it probably just seems easier to manage fewer accounts. But please be weary… Remember that everything you post, write, favorite, re-tweet, etc. can be seen by current clients, prospects, employers and peers.
Always think twice, if not a hundred times, before opening your personal account to business use. And please, I beg of you, don’t post random acts of sexiness on any of your accounts, private or personal. Eww.