Marketing in financial services through social media can offer a wealth of opportunity but brings with it unique challenges. Here we answer four common questions about social media for financial services marketers.
Q Which social media sites should we participate in?
Every financial marketer should have a blog or online newsletter that interested clients and prospects can subscribe to. This should highlight areas of expertise
within your organization or information of interest to your target markets. It should offer, at a minimum, an RSS option, as well as a link to your Facebook and Twitter sites.
There are many specialized social groups both within larger sites (such as LinkedIn groups) and standalone sites, such as comments sections of blogs or other publications. Depending on your target market and your objectives, you will want to subscribe and become active participants on these sites.
Q How do we keep up with new social media sites and technologies for managing our social presence?
Every day seems to bring news of new mobile apps, widgets and social groups that early adapters have discovered. Keeping up feels like a full-time job and no one person can manage it all. One suggestion is to form a tech council, made up of employees, vendors, even clients if appropriate. This group can call the moderator’s attention to the latest “must have” technologies and can be a sounding board for any tech innovations your company is planning. If you don’t have tech savvy people on your team, subscribe to updates from the appropriate LinkedIn and Facebook groups for the latest in what’s out in the mediasphere.
Q We’d like to participate more on social platforms but our compliance department won’t allow us to. What should we do?
Compliance and marketing are like cats and dogs. Every cool thing you want to do seems to set the compliance department’s teeth on edge. Compliance, of course, is just doing their job. Regulators have created rules on use of social media (such as FINRA’s requirement that all communications be saved) and many compliance departments err on the side of caution by not allowing any social commenting.
Meet with your compliance officers to see if there is room for compromise. Highly regulated firms, such as RIAs, are using social media successfully, so show your compliance team examples of who’s doing what and come up with guidelines that will allow you to take advantage of social tools without crossing the line.
Q Blogging, tweeting, participating in social sites take a lot of time. How do we measure what we are getting in return?
Measuring social media effectiveness is, in some ways, easier than measuring other marketing tactics, since it is relatively easy to gather statistics on usage. But determining success is a question of what you measure rather than raw numbers. If your goal is brand awareness, then Facebook friends or Twitter followers may be the number you’re most interested in. For building sales, watch your web site statistics to see where new visitors are coming from. If there is a sudden uptick in visitors from a particular site, you can safely assume that there is interest in your promotion and can further develop it with an offer, seminars and other tactics.
Evelyn Ehrlich and Duke Fanelli are authors of Financial Services Marketing Handbook, 2nd Edition.
Evelyn Ehrlich, Ph.D. is President of EC Communications, a marketing strategy and consulting firm that has served banks, brokerages, insurance companies and other financial institutions since 1982. Louis “Duke” Fanelli has more than thirty years experience in marketing and financial services. He is currently Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communication for the ANA (Association of National Advertisers), the leading association for client-side marketers. Ehrlich and Fanelli teach Financial Services Marketing at NYU.