One of the most impactful viral videos, demonstrating how powerful social networks have become, is the Social Media Revolution.  (If you have not seen it by now, stop and watch the latest version before reading this article.)

The video creator and author of Socialnomics, Erik Qualman, gave the morning keynote address at the LIMRA LOMA Social Media for Financial Services Conference.

Qualman, seen as an expert among experts, said of social media, "It is less about technology and more about long-term relationships and clients."

He firmly told the financial services attendees (mostly heads of marketing or compliance), how a brand is not something we decide, it is the clients that decide what it is. "We don't have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is how well we do it," added Qualman.

Listen Online Or Else
He suggested a repetitive process of listening, selling, reacting and interacting.  The one area where most drop the ball is reacting, even if positive things are happening.

For listening, he gave an example of how an airline customer complained about his guitar getting broken, but had no luck for a year getting the problem resolved. The musician wrote a song called "United Breaks Guitars" and it now has 12 million views on YouTube.  Qualman said if the airline had only listened and reacted sooner, the loads of negative publicity might have been avoided.

He suggested that attendees do not just have to listen for bad things. They can look for opportunities.

What Happens Online Does Not Go Away
The digital legacy is becoming more important.  "People are researching you and deciding if they want to engage with you," he added.

Qualman gave an example of Bill O'Reilly screaming profanity after a "Rick Roll" practical joke on his TV set.  It happened years ago, but now the video has millions of views on YouTube.  

Qualman gave an equation: Digital legacy = footprints + shadows.  In other words, what people can find online about an individual or a firm is partly controlled content and the other portion is not.  "Shadows," the digital legacy that is out of one's control, starts before a good portion of children have even been born, with the common practice of posting pictures from an ultrasound.