2018 FINTECH PREDICTION IN REVIEW: Social Selling & Propaganda Bots

Here's what we said would matter in the past year year:

How can financial advisors, insurance agents, bank tellers and other human front office staff compete with bots? How can they compete with Kim Kardashian and kitten GIFs for attention? They can’t — at least not without some automated help. We think that 2018 will see a much fuller implementation of Social Selling, i.e., using social networks like LinkedIn to prospect for business, and that this channel will become plugged into roboadvisors, neobanks and insurtech startups. Further, social selling is all about content marketing by using writing, podcasts and video. To distribute these at scale, we expect the technology behind propaganda bots to find a way into the mainstream economy and become a more acceptable strategy. Call it demand generation.

We were strongly correct in thinking that the social media pipes of LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook will be used for selling financial products; the claim that these tools will be supported by some of the shadier aspects of propaganda bot networks also came true in particular cases. The second largest crypto currency, Ripple, is associated with a large and active bot and sockpuppet network, which has supported the market value of XRP to be $15 billion, only behind Bitcoin, and in competition for second place with the far more functional Ethereum.

Various social influencers – like DJ Khaled (6 million followers on Instagram) – peddled digital assets during the ICO mania and have faced regulatory fines; Youtube similarly was filled with investment advice content from enthusiasts. We were wrong about the pace at which traditional businesses will do this in the short term, but are still convinced this is a longer term change that will happen with the generational shift in both sales and regulatory roles. People are spending 12 hours a day on media, increasingly on LinkedIn, Youtube, and Twitter, and marketers are well aware. And if you have a LinkedIn account, so are you. 

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Source: 2018 Keystone Predictions Deck, Twitter visualization of the XRP network by Geoff Goldberg, B2B Media Channels from State of Digital Marketing by Demand Wave