At the recent LIMRA LOMA Social Media Conference for Financial Services, a team from MassMutual presided over a panel discussion on best practices for social media programs. Speaking were:
- Corina Roy, Assistant Vice President, Field Digital, Life Company Marketing, MassMutual
- Kathleen Mayko, Director, Brand Marketing, Life Company Marketing, MassMutual
- Doug Morrin, Assistant Vice President & Counsel, Law Department, MassMutual
- Moderator: Victor Gaxiola, Customer Advocacy Manager, Hearsay Social
Victor Gaxiola: Share what the current state of the MassMutual social media program is – at brand and field level.
Kathleen Mayko: Our brand has a Facebook fan page, Twitter handle, LinkedIn company page, we’re on Pinterest, Google+ and have a YouTube channel. We started first with a firm foundation. Deciding what we wanted on social first. We wanted to engage both clients and prospects. We have focused our efforts around engaging folks and supporting them.
Corina Roy: From the field side, basically we looked to leverage what we learned at the corporate brand level. We have over 80 agencies. For agents, they use LinkedIn and Facebook fan pages. We will hopefully launch Twitter for them later this year. We wanted to build and reinforce their creditability in the online space.
VG: What led to the decision to be so involved in social media?
KM: It became something a brand needed in order to be relevant. And it was needed to talk to customers and prospects in real time. We needed to have a good, robust presence. That’s what drove us initially. But we synced up internally to build a good foundation of what we were going to do, establishing a really good framework. We did that before we even started our pages.
CR: We allowed our field force to use LinkedIn five years ago. There were rigid rules around what they could have on their page. They were constantly clamoring. They wanted more. But we knew the world was changing and we needed to fish where the fish were. My team knew we needed tools and resources before we branched out, to build a more robust presence. We formed the team two-to-three years ago and went from there.
DM: The field strategy portion was that much more important. To move from a static presence to a more active, robust presence. Just saying “no” to 5,000 field professionals was not going to be a credible compliance program for much longer. Social media was becoming part of everyday life. We said, “this is something we are going to need an answer for, and come up with a solution for.”
VG: At Hearsay Social, if you have the buy-in from senior leadership, it all goes much smoother.
KM: Senior leadership was supportive from the get-go. They are often the ones in meetings who are pushing, saying “why aren’t we doing x or why aren’t we doing y.” That’s been central to what we do. Having that push and emphasis on social has pushed us to move forward even quicker and develop more exciting campaigns. Our CEO watches our pages and contributes often. That’s really helped us and proves the support is there.
VG: What role did you all play in the SM policy and process?
DM: To me, the law was the easy part. It was important for me personally to be a credible advisor. The hard part was understanding the platforms.
KM: I remember being in a meeting and we were talking Instagram and Doug was very much on board and it was great. Also, the formation of our social media working group has been the most important to us to make sure everybody’s on the same page. We continue to meet and it’s a working group with people from across the company. We talk about news stories, regulatory issues that might be important. For us, that’s been so instrumental to make sure everyone knows what’s going on in social.
CR: It’s our role to be the field advocate. We’re not trying to make them social media experts; we’re trying to make them sales experts that can use social media successfully to meet their sales goals.
VG: You embrace it as a process. You can’t have it figured out right away. Social and financial services are a revolution at an evolution pace. What were some challenges?
KM: On the corporate side, there were a lot of naysayers. Especially in law and compliance. Shocking. It was a matter of limited resources. Law and compliance were wondering why we were going to commit resources to something that we couldn’t determine an ROI for. We talked about the platforms. Beyond the platforms, it was also a matter of complexity. There were human resources issues, employment issues, securities regulations, litigation issues. We quickly realized we needed to create our own working group. It removed “the power of one.” Every subject matter expert needed to understand this.
On the corporate side it’s interesting. When you establish your brand pages, there are still some things you don’t think of beforehand. One was taking a deeper look at our employee social media policy. To get a sense of “if we want employees to share this information, how do we make sure they’re doing it in the right way?”
We deconstructed the policy and reconstructed it so employees knew how they could interact on social media. In the beginning, as a company we had a block on social media pages within MassMutual. But then we realized we were being hypocritical. There were concerns about productivity, IT was concerned about viruses, but we were able to come up with a great solution. As we have new platforms that come on board, it’s been a challenge to choose which platform we should be active in. Those are conversations we consistently have.
CR: On the field side, there were two challenges. The first was around training. We have these sites, they’re not static. These platforms change the way they look and feel all the time. We’ve tried to not reinvent the wheel. We encourage our users to look at LinkedIn 101. We also encourage them to use just snippets of info – instead of documentation or longer info. It all continues to be a challenge. Hearsay offers some training for us. We continue to work with Facebook and Twitter to see what they can add to our training.
The second challenge is, of course, resources.
VG: Looking back, what would you have done differently?
KM: Looking back, we could’ve benefitted from a social media center of excellence that spanned throughout the whole company. Now, we have that. But having it before would’ve helped. Having a COE that could’ve quickly assessed each social media opportunity would’ve been beneficial.
CR: We were constantly piloting things and making commitments before we had kicked the tires. In the beginning, we were using things that maybe didn’t feel right. If you’re doing something and it’s not working, change it. It’s hard with a big company, though. It’s hard to be the person that says, “it’s not working, we need to change it.” But I wish I would’ve done that sooner in certain situations. I would’ve pushed harder and pushed sooner to make those changes.
VG: How are you growing social adoption?
CR: The short answer is slow and steady. But really, we’ve actually grown adoption faster than anticipated. The way we’re growing adoption is training, of course. Best practices is another. I’m always listening in training, sharing best practices with others. Training the trainers is another. Those local compliance folks and agency marketing coordinators. And adoption was fueled by having a technology that solved our resource constraints and helped agents be successful.
VG: But what about ROI? How is MassMutual measuring success?
KM: On the brand level we don’t currently look at ROI. At this point it’s difficult. That said we look more at brand awareness, how we’re moving the needle and how we’re engaging our audience and at what level. We’ve started to move away from building our audience to engaging our audience.
CR: On the field side, our look at ROI is really evolving. In the beginning, it was focused on adoption. How many agents were using social media? Then it was, “Are they publishing? Do they have fans? Are they using the tools?”
From there, it’s engagement. What kind of response to their content are they getting? I know we want to be able to link these activities to sales. And if someone can figure out how to calculate that, please call me. That will be the next layer.
VG: What’s the next stage of social for MassMutual?
KM: I think we’ll continue to drive engagement and brand awareness. And even though we take calculated steps, we’ll continue to be nimble around what new platforms emerge and what new capabilities emerge. While we plan ahead, we don’t plan too far ahead. Things change and we have to change with it.
CR: It’s all about continuing to change with everything. I think my mantra is integration. Taking social media and not really thinking about social by itself but integrating it into your website, e-newsletters – making it a full marketing plan.