5 Ways Financial Services Can Become a Social Media Force [VIDEO]

May 9, 2013

How can financial services companies build relationships with consumers through social media?  Last Thursday, at LinkedIn's FinanceConnect:13 in New York, some of the leading marketing minds in the financial services industry came together to share the lessons they've learned so far.

1) Connect with consumers in a language they understand

Jill Schlesinger, Senior Business Analyst at CBS News and a veteran of the financial services world, kicked off FinanceConnect:13 by telling attendees that in a “Meh” economy, social media provides the opportunity to educate and connect with consumers.  The key, Schlesinger explained, is cutting out the financial jargon and giving customers small and concrete takeaways. "If you can't figure out how to communicate to people in a way they can take it in,” Schlesinger said, “it's useless."  

Clear communication on social can also help companies rebuild trust after they’ve been slammed in the press. “Tell them your side and be honest about it,” Schlesinger advised.

Through these tactics, Schlesinger added, there is a great opportunity to appeal to “Mass Affluents,”—people with investible assets between $100K and $1M—because they are “engaged in social media in a pretty special way.” A recent LinkedIn study reinforced that opportunity.

2) Tailor your content to the buyer you're pursuing

Eileen Loustau, Global Director of Social Media at Blackrock/iShares, stressed that financial services companies need to create the right content for their respective audiences.  Recognizing that its social media audience is made up of sophisticated investors, Blackrock creates more sophisticated content. “We sometimes call it chapter four,” Loustau explained, meaning they jump right into the higher-level conversations.

Blackrock primarily targets their content to professionals on LinkedIn, and it’s paying off. “All of the impressions, clicks and engagement we generated would have cost us $17-18 million worth of earned advertising,” she said of her company’s social media efforts.

3) Let Social Media Teach You About Your Customers

Chris Clark, Group Head of Marketing at HSBC, said that social media isn’t just about marketing ROI—it’s also about learning about your customers.

“We believe that social media can teach us a lot more about how to talk to our customers at the moment, rather than saying ‘how do we tweet to get new credit card customers?’” Clark explained.

4) Collaborate with compliance

When it comes to social media for financial services, compliance regulations are always a challenge. Linda Descano, Managing Director, Head of Digital Partnerships, Content & Social, at Citi, said that social marketers should “build a close relationship with legal and compliance.” To tackle this issue at Citi, Descano has launched social media forums where marketing and compliance teams come together to brainstorm ideas. “Everyone comes in with their thinking cap on,” Descano said, explaining that the forums have allowed social programs to move forward much more quickly.

5) Know when to throw away your scorecard

Ed Gilligan, President of American Express, told Jill Schlesinger in a fireside chat that if you want to truly innovate in the digital age, you can’t be handcuffed by preconceived rules and limitations. “There’s an art and a science,” Gilligan said. “There is a science of scorecards and metrics … the art of it is knowing when those rules don’t apply.”

Watch the videos from FinanceConnect:13 or see the presentations on our SlideShare channel.