When financial services organizations first began adopting social media, compliance decisions trumped technology choices and business value. As social media has matured, so too has the conversation around compliance. While compliance is still top of mind, and critically important for finserv organizations, executive teams are beginning to recognize that social media delivers tremendous value and must be an integral part of their business strategy.
And it’s no wonder. Consumers expect brands to be present on social and to be active participants. That’s especially important in financial services, which is rooted in relationships and trust. In the age of automation, staying focused on the human element and a brand’s approachability is a key factor in retaining customers and talent — whether that’s in person, over the phone or on social.
According to Gartner, 90% of companies will be using social media for customer service by 2020. It’s hard to imagine any who don’t today. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and the rest are just too valuable for engaging with customers to ignore. Now, the conversation has changed from containing the risk of social media to implementing it wisely so that it proves its value.
Beyond customer service, financial services organizations are adopting social in key areas such as marketing, sales and employee advocacy. Yet challenges remain. Social media strategies and data often are siloed by department. And skills, budget and resource gaps are barriers to success.
It’s worth taking a step back to re-evaluate your social media efforts to adopt a more holistic approach that can elevate your efforts — and success — across your organization. With that in mind, following are three main areas to consider for succeeding with social in financial services:
1. Activate employees and executives
People today want to see the human side of brands. When employees are empowered to build social media activities into their workday, an organization can drive revenue and build trust. In Massachusetts, for example, employees in Avidia Bank’s employee advocacy program — the “Avidia Smarties” — go through training to become social ambassadors, which gives them access to Avidia’s social dashboard to pull on-brand content to share on their personal channels. The “Smarties” work in various departments, are socially savvy and want to drive business results with social. The result: increased reach and brand love.
Similarly, building a social program for senior executives can also pay big dividends in increased trust and employee engagement. Manulife president and CEO Roy Gori, for example, does this really well. Gori has a following of more than 11,000 on LinkedIn and is active on Facebook and Instagram where he engages employees by sharing more personal thoughts about his work and home life. Today, Gori’s CEO approval rating on Glassdoor is 90%.
2. Consolidate platforms
More than 75% of organizations use at least three different platforms to manage their social media, according to Hootsuite research. And almost half say there’s no collaboration across departments. That creates data silos and inefficient workflows. Consolidating social media technologies into one social media management platform can lead to efficiencies in spending, knowledge sharing and a more consistent brand experience for customers. You can share key learnings across the business and measure the impact of social at a strategic level. You can also select a best-of-breed compliance partner to integrate with across social media activity organization-wide. Canaccord Genuity, for example, consolidated its corporate marketing and social selling efforts — equipping advisors with data to help them understand the impact of their social selling, and in turn informing the marketing department so it could create targeted ads based on trends and performance. The company says the approach gives advisors the confidence to deepen relationships.
3. Integrate with business applications
With social media in a more strategic position, proving the return on social media investment is key to making the case for increased resources. That means demonstrating tangible business results such as increased sales, decreased costs per customer service transaction, or more positive brand perception. To make the ROI connection, organizations need to integrate social data with other technologies so it can be aggregated with other business intelligence data. For example, integrating social media channels with help desk and ticket management systems can create a unified view of customer interactions, helping track efficiencies gained in time and number of touches to resolve inquiries. And by integrating social media channels with CRM and content management systems, organizations can attribute web conversions — and subsequent pipeline and closed business — to social media programs.
Today, social has expanded beyond corporate marketing teams and touches every aspect of financial services communications. From advisors to executives to employees, every individual has a voice — and the potential to influence customers. Now is the time to seize the opportunity and succeed with social.
Amy McIlwain is global industry principal at Hootsuite, the world’s largest social relationship management company with over 16 million users worldwide. She has appeared on FOX, CBS, ABC, and NBC as a social media expert, and delivers keynote presentations to financial services organizations around the world. She can be reached via LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.