In this social media driven age, does the absence of a company profile on Twitter or Facebook now trigger alarm bells where it didn’t before?
I’m not a fan of social media, even as I admit how necessary it’s become. But it’s now reached a point, I think, where businesses in certain sectors without a social profile are effectively admitting they’ve got something to hide.
Not long ago, I was bemoaning the regulatory mess that presides over the advertising of financial products. If you missed the story, it related to the banning of an advert for payday lender Cash Lady featuring the frequently bankrupt Kerry Katona.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) quashed a television advert that lured customers into applying for high-cost loans – over three months after it was launched. The Office of Fair Trading, which regulates the payday lending sector, could only be consulted on one of the four issues raised about it.
Well, the ASA has been in action again recently, concerning a rather shocking assertion by one of these parasite claim firms that public sector workers should aim to cash in a lump of their pensions with ‘ZERO’ impact, regardless of their age.
This is highly misleading, as there are only a few exceptional circumstances that allow this prior to the age of 55. Otherwise, HMRC will be expecting the vast majority of that withdrawal back in tax.
Furthermore, as most of us well know (even if it isn’t strictly illegal in advertising regulation), the involvement of an intermediary like this will almost invariably result in them taking a large cut in return for poor information and precious little reward.
The ASA has held Pension Cash Now in breach of two codes and banned the promotion in its current form, but six days have since elapsed without any action taken from either side.
Upon visiting the guilty party, I immediately think to myself: ‘cheap’. Basic layout; stock images; primary colours, ad nauseum…
But even then, I acknowledge that to the untrained eye, it still does a job. I’ve seen much worse, and much that is more overtly suspicious.
The mark of credibility I now find myself looking for is evidence of a social media feed. Why? Because it’s a public soundboard, a place to converse, and the place where a faceless brand can translate into a real person. In essence, it’s one useful step towards transparency.
If you cannot find one for a financial services business, I’m assuming it’s because customer interaction is the last thing they’re after.
And if businesses don’t want that, by and large, you really don’t want what they have to offer.
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