6 Big Social Media Opportunities for Financial Services (and One Gap)
Consumers want to connect with their banks, wealth management firms, and insurance providers on social media just as they do with other providers of goods and services in our increasingly social world. They don’t care about the extra regulatory restraints and logistical details that make it challenging for your financial institution to be present and responsive on these channels. They expect you to be there.
How are financial service providers meeting this need and avoiding pitfalls?
At the recent Spredfast Summit, a roundtable of social media professionals in the FinServ industry met to discuss their changing world. Whether you are using social to attract talent, market, sell, or provide customer service for your financial services institution, keep reading for six big opportunities and one gap.
6 Big Opportunities
1. Content connects
This should come as no surprise. As with anything else, great content is high-value currency in the financial services industry, and people are taking to social to find it. According to LinkedIn, about half of institutional asset managers (IAMs) and institutional investors(IIs) have used a social media source for information relevant to their investing role in the past year.
But is it making an impact? You bet. 70% of wealthy investors have restructured their investments or altered their relationships based on content found through social media.
2. Social helps you humanize your brand
LinkedIn’s Mike Caplan shared three key ways that social media can help humanize financial services brands (that often need to combat impersonal reputations).
- Build an executive leadership platform. Social offers many opportunities, like LinkedIn’s Influencer Program where your top brass can share their perspectives on timely events and expertise on leadership topics.
- Empower employees to be brand advocates. According to Edelman’s Annual Trust Barometer Report, regular employees and internal technical experts are viewed as highly credible sources of information about your company. When they share on behalf of your brand, they provide authenticity, trustworthiness, and reach.
- Activate your brand voice. Your marketing department still has a role to play. Use social channels to activate and amplify your great existing content that consumers so desperately crave (see above).
3. Social is part of the evolving digital plan
For many industries, social is now being integrated from the jump where it was once an afterthought. Financial brands are wise to adopt this trend. Perhaps more than others, they are in need of a cross-organization social strategy, not just a marketing strategy that includes social.
Consumers will seek you out on social for education about your offerings, expert advice on financial topics, and care when they have a complaint or question. There is a strong business case for providing these answers where they are looking—whether it is cost efficacy or customer appreciation.
Which brings me to my next point:
4. Social makes a measurable contribution to business success
But you need to measure it. Financial category boards and budget holders are numbers people. If you can’t point to tangible business results of social, it will never gain a foothold in the annual budget process.
You need to connect social terminology to business results. What are you trying to achieve with your social programs? No matter what behavior you are trying to drive, it is measurable. Driving traffic to product information? Use source codes to measure socially driven traffic. Using social to nurture prospects? Measure lead gen activity to determine whether time to sale is shorter.
By having an opinion and talking about social performance in terms that resonate with your executives, you will be able to demonstrate success, grow budget, and grow strategy.
5. You’ve got a head start on compliance
If you were early to the social game, you probably felt on your own dealing with heavy compliance constraints, while your peers in less highly regulated industries had fun playing fast and loose on social.
That’s all changing. Many industries are tightening the reins with their own social media regulations, from food producers to prescription drug and automotive manufacturers. You have a head start on staying timely, compelling, and on brand despite a slew of red tape and restrictions.
6. RTM isn’t out of reach
As social marketing evolves, many brands are using new strategies like real-time marketing to connect with consumers in more timely, relevant ways. Before rejecting the idea out of hand, “My compliance manager would never let this fly,” realize that with planning and communication, you can help your financial brand get in front of consumers in real time.
The first step is to take as many events as possible off the table with compliance. By ignoring the “never-gonna-happens” you can narrow your focus on realistic opportunities. Next, recognize that compliance moves at their own pace—and they don’t like emergencies. Pre-plan as many scenarios as possible: crisis, responses to commonly asked questions, and “real-time” moments that you can see coming. Build a relationship with your compliance manager and help him or her understand your processes and business need. This will help make them a strong partner, not an adversary.
And One Gap: Securing the Right Partner
While you are eager to scale social and drive adoption across your organization, your procurement team has a tough and crucial job—making sure that your technology partners uphold the stringent security needs of your business.
By asking your team what factors determine the controls you need to have in place for securities, you can ensure that your Security Review is setting your team up for success and doesn’t turn into an extensive box checking exercise.
Here are three important perspectives to consider when evaluating the security of a social technology partner:
- Information confidentiality: How do you collect, protect, and archive confidential user information while staying compliant? Does your technology partner have systems in place to help you achieve that?
- Data/system integrity: You need to know that what you intended to say in a social post is exactly what got published to the networks. You also need to protect the system against accidental or malicious misuse by internal and external parties.
- System availability: This includes SLAs, uptime, and contingency planning for disasters and high-volume scenarios. This is one major advantage of operating in a cloud-based system like Amazon Web Services.
It’s a brave new world for financial services marketers. How will you mind the gap and take a leap to leverage these new opportunities?