Financial institutions face a lot of challenges in today's marketplace, especially when it comes to social media.
First, there's the regulatory issues: FINRA requires that firms must collect and store records of all business communication through social networks. This protects investors from inaccurate claims and misleading representations. It means firms must put together a policy/workflow to educate employees on what is and isn't considered a business communication. Social media conversation, says the guidelines, needs to be regulated and monitored just like written and in-person communications are.
But what is the reason to engage on social networks in the first place? Why go through all the trouble of educating your employees, putting a policy in place, and archiving all social media posts?
Easy: Social media is a way for financial firms to not just create awareness but to solidify customer relationships and build trust.
Of course, while you are archiving your social interaction with your customers, why not look at that data in the long-term and learn from it? Social media monitoring can not only keep you compliant, but it can help you determine the language of your customers and measure the success with which you reach them.
In addition to examining the language and trends of your industry online, it's important to have some specific strategies. Augie Ray, Director of Social Media at Prudential says there are four broad ways that financial companies can build trust through social media:
1. Person-to-person - Financial advisors themselves are reaching out via personal networks and peer-to-peer communities.
2. Transparency - Making company leaders (including CEOs) available for Q&As on leading social networks helps to build trust.
3. Quality Interactions - Social responsiveness, building networks of your financial planners, and authoring valuable content build strong relationships.
4. Co-creation- Crowdsourcing ideas and suggestions helps your customers feel like they are partial owners in the brand. Ray has examples of each of these from companies like Prudential, Ameriprise, Fidelity, Vanguard, and more in this fantastic slidedeck. Check it out:
Focusing on Augie's number three suggestion -- quality interactions -- the response to that suggestion will often be "easier said than done."
For me here at Spiral16, my content strategy is always to offer/curate the best advice on social media that I can find and from my own experience. Creating content that people will engage with and share across the web is never easy, and its different for every industry and audience.
Digital Strategist Tracey Parsons recently suggested 6 different categories of great social media content for financial institutions. Sometimes the difference between a stale piece of content and something that will call people to action is the delivery, like this first example:
- Offer suggestions about how people can GROW their money -- not just savings tips.
- Experts are up on things. Drive people to the articles and ebooks that your experts are reading.
- Shared passions are often the key to increasing authentic engagement. What sponsorships can you leverage that relate to a shared passion with your customers?
- Share content that makes people feel good about your company. Remind your audience of your values; what you give back to the community.
- Active listening means actually responding and making customers feel like part of the conversation. (This relates all four of Augie's ways to build trust above.)
- If you do talk about yourself, make it interesting. Being clever, funny, and relevant always works.
It's no surprise that many of the ideas above dovetail into the previous ones. There's one constant here: Before rolling out any social media strategy, financial firms need to listen.
You have to archive all your social media posts and customer responses anyway, so why not actively listen and learn from the people that keep you in business anyway? They want to trust you. It's up to you to show them why they should.