Understanding the importance of social media for modern firms

Financial institutions are experiencing unprecedented change. Economic uncertainties, emerging technologies, and rapidly evolving client expectations are changing the way firms operate and connect with existing and potential clients. After all, client engagement and loyalty are no longer driven exclusively by the products, rates, and services a financial institution provides. Instead, clients want to do business with firms that meet them where they are to provide helpful and personalized financial information.

One of the growing channels where this happens is social media. In fact, a recent study by The World Economic Forum found that more than half of U.S. adults go to social media for news and information on investing and banking. And this number is growing rapidly.

“As the power of social media continues to expand, firms need to offer technology tools that help teams meaningfully engage on these platforms in a compliant and relevant way.” — Kerry Ryan, CPWA®, Director Financial Services Marketing, Seismic

Shifting mindsets: the advantages of social media has evolved

To keep up with current and prospective clients, more financial institutions are turning to social media. And, even as more firms embrace social media, the way it’s used is constantly evolving. Originally, many firms thought of social media as a broadcast channel where they pushed out ads, promotions, news, and other forms of branded content. But, people don’t have conversations with brands — they have conversations with other people.

“As often misleading and fragmented information on social media proliferates, respected firms can elevate their brand and capture new clients by showcasing their expertise, credentials, and valuable insights.” — Kerry Ryan, CPWA®, Director Financial Services Marketing, Seismic

Now, financial services firms view social media as a way for their client-facing employees to have personalized conversations with other people. This does not mean that marketing teams only equip employees with branded posts or advertisements. Instead, they enable and empower their client-facing teams to be subject-matter experts who share unique content that resonates with their clients and their network in addition to some branded content. By sharing informative, inspiring, entertaining content, client-facing professionals build their personal reputations in a credible and trustworthy way that cultivates relationships over time.

“Modern client-centric social media is nothing like old fashioned pitching and promoting. It’s about your people showing up and speaking up in ways that strengthen reputation, nurture relationships, and build trust at scale. Done well, over time, it’s incredibly powerful.” — Steve Watt, Director, Market Insights, Seismic

However, this doesn’t come without challenges. After all, financial institutions and their client-facing professionals have to worry about the credibility and accuracy of information, legal stipulations, and compliance regulations. 

This presents a unique opportunity for firms that want to leverage social media to deepen existing relationships and forge new ones. In order to do this successfully, firms need to enable client-facing teams with tools and enablement programs that ensure high quality, accurate, and compliant discussions around financial topics.

Never stop growing.

The roadmap to social media success

It’s important to understand that you can’t simply launch your social media strategy or implement a new tool and expect it to flourish right away. Here are a few strategies we’ve seen financial services clients use to launch their social media engagement programs and encourage adoption with their teams.

  1. Define — or redefine — your strategy: For firms that are just starting out, survey your client-facing teams so they can provide input on your social media strategy. Ask questions about content, formats, and preferred social channels. For example, while some employees may prefer text-based posts on LinkedIn, others may be more compelled by video content on YouTube. Getting these types of insights will be helpful as you define your plan. If you’re redefining your strategy, look at all of the available data on your social efforts. This will help you analyze performance to identify what’s working and where there’s new opportunity.

  2. Outline roles and responsibilities: Most social media programs should be a shared responsibility between sales, marketing, and enablement teams. But, in order for this to work, there needs to be alignment and ground rules that are established from the start. Agree on the approach, identify key deadlines and goals, and create a plan for moving forward.

  3. Align with compliance and legal: Regulatory and legal compliance are critical for financial services, especially as new regulations like the US SEC Marketing Rule, come into effect. This requires organizations to think carefully about their goals for social media. Additionally, client-facing employees may be wary to embrace social media due to compliance concerns. By putting risk management tools, processes, and platforms in place, everyone can rest assured that your social media program is done right.
  4. Regularly share tips and best practices: Client-facing teams are already busy, so employees may be quick to assume that this will only add to their already hectic workload. Therefore, it’s beneficial to provide tips and best practices for crafting the best social media posts, ideally from other client-facing advocates. By educating, empowering, and enabling them, they’ll be more likely to see how this can fit into their daily schedule and be beneficial in the long run.

  5. Give them tools for success: In addition to ongoing enablement and training on social media tips and best practices, look for tools that will make it easy and efficient for your teams to leverage social media. Social selling platforms automate content creation, enable authentic and personalized sharing, and manage everything with compliance in mind.

Measuring success and effectiveness

Deploying a social media strategy for financial services is not a one-time launch event. Instead, it’s a journey that requires iteration and improvements over time. Here are a few helpful goals to consider when it comes to setting expectations and measuring success.

“Bad measurement and unrealistic timelines can be the death of social media programs before they even have a chance to thrive. It’s a journey, so it’s important to devote the time, energy, and resources to learn, grow, and get it right.” — Steve Watt, Director, Market Insights, Seismic

Create quarterly milestones and goals

Social media is a long-term process, but firms can’t sit back and measure nothing. And while organizations won’t experience full adoption the week a program launches, there are ways to track progress over time. For example, look to see if adoption and activity is better than it was in the first three and six months. Did adoption increase or decrease? Are employees sharing more on a consistent basis than they once did? Then, a few months after launch, begin tracking marketing metrics like traffic from social and increased company page follows. By looking at these metrics over time, you’ll easily be able to gauge if your social media efforts are resonating with your team.

Look for ways to encourage incremental improvements

We’ve found that when launching a new initiative or program, employees usually fall into three buckets:

  • High motivation & engagement: “Help me be excellent.”
  • Moderate motivation & engagement: “Make it easier.
  • Low motivation & engagement: “Show me why I should care.

While you likely won’t get an employee to move from the bottom tier to the top tier overnight, you can encourage them to get 1% better each and every day. For example, help the people who are consistently active with new, helpful content and data. Those who fall more in the middle may just need help building momentum. Map and plan your ongoing enablement efforts around these tiers and develop appropriate strategies for each.

Lead by example

Finally, financial services leaders who consistently engage on social media are much more knowledgeable and credible when they ask their client-facing employees to leverage social media. Instead of telling them what to do and how to do it, show them how you embrace social media yourself.

Final thoughts

An effective social media engagement program can create tremendous value for financial services firms. While it is an investment that requires thought and intentionality, it can deliver great returns over time. The financial services firms that empower and enable their people to embrace and engage on social media with confidence will deepen relationships, build trust at scale, and create a competitive advantage over other firms.

How Seismic helps

Implementing a successful social media program requires a platform that makes it scalable and efficient. Seismic’s enablement suite features LiveSocial, a social engagement platform that tens of thousands of financial service professionals use to foster authentic relationships and grow client trust. 

It’s the only tool in the market that provides a unique feed of current, relevant, and compliant third-party content for each of your client-facing employees, in addition to the corporate content that your marketing team and partners create. LiveSocial also provides robust reporting and analytics so users know what content most resonates and drives engagement. Interested in learning more? Watch how client-facing professionals build trust online and meet clients where they are using LiveSocial.