How Financial Services Brands Can Create Breakthrough Content in Times of Crisis
January 11, 2021
It’s a unique moment for marketers in the financial services industry, to say the least. We’re nine months into a global pandemic that shows no signs of slowing. (Albeit a vaccine is on the way.) Conversations around social justice – sparked over the summer’s global protests about racial inequality – are still going strong. And geo-political tumult, coupled with a turbulent U.S. election cycle, has led to market volatility that has kept investors on edge.
In this precarious moment, many marketers are wondering how to meet people where they are, burdened by anxieties about their health, jobs, loved ones and finances.
The majority of financial brands have kept the conversation going since March – keeping customers informed of their response to the state of the world and updated on digital product features they can use from home; according to LinkedIn data, 80% of financial brands have continued to post. Finance as a whole continues to be in the top five for most-read topics on the platform, and interestingly, 75% of engagement comes from members who do not work in finance, according to our data. Beyond financial topics, however, shareholders and the public are expecting brands to have a strong voice when it comes to corporate values, racial equality and climate change.
How exactly should financial marketers weigh in on this territory in a way that is authentic, helpful and ultimately breaks through the noise? There are three emerging trends we’re seeing for leading financial brands.
Lead With Productivity and Empathy
Trust in financial institutions, opposite of what it was after the 2008 recession, has reached an all-time high on LinkedIn. According to our analyses, the sentiment of 81% of comments on financial brands’ posts was either positive or neutral. This is in part due to the mindset of our users, which is different from other social networks. People are coming to LinkedIn to learn, hear from companies about what they stand for, network and be inspired by other likeminded professionals to ultimately grow their careers. LinkedIn is an ideal platform to offer productive empathy to audiences, helping them how to navigate their personal and/or professional financial decisions right now, for example.
Kantar’s COVID-19 study found that more than 70% of people are looking for brands to talk about how they’re helpful in the “new” every day, how they’re reacting to situations as they arise, and they’re looking for a reassuring tone. A couple examples of brands accomplishing these objectives well include:
- EY showcased how it was helpful in the “new” every day when it hosted its virtual Strategic Growth Forum last month with a slate of highly relevant and valuable programming. Sessions covered how to successfully transitioning from on-site to online with Best Buy CEO Corie Barry, ways companies can rethink collaboration and communication for better workplace engagement with Wharton Professor Adam Grant, and how companies can raise capital in the fluctuating economic environment with Vari CEO and Co-Founder Jason McAnn.
- Goldman Sachs is an example of a brand that stands out for its reaction to the current situation, making a range of commitments to create a more equitable and sustainable future, including offering courses for students at historically black colleges on financial concepts, their commitment to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050, and their social impact investing fund.
- Bank of America offered a reassuring tone when they reminded employees of their reimbursements for families in need of child- and elder-care services as well as offered tips for keeping mentally healthy and avoiding burnout on a LinkedIn Live featuring Thrive Global CEO Arianna Huffington.
Double Down on Video
Video, above other formats, has become an ideal tactic for financial brands to distill complex (and often overwhelming) financial topics such as preparing for retirement, paying down a mortgage and prepping for tax season, so consumers and entrepreneurs can make better decisions. Video is also an opportunity to put your internal subject matter experts and analysts on display to make your brand more human. Since the pandemic started in March, LinkedIn saw a 31% uptick in video consumption globally, so there’s an appetite for visual storytelling right now. A couple of stand-out examples are:
- Vanguard produced more virtual events this year for its B2C and financial adviser and institutional adviser audiences. The investment firm created videos and webinars before the pandemic, but this year invested in rich interactive tools for more engaging experiences, such as text chats and one-on-one breakout rooms for networking to keep the conversation going after their events. Their massive video library features on a broad range of topics, such as videos the outlook for interest rates and how to diversify your portfolio.
- Morgan Stanley does an exceptional job at putting their unique thought leadership front and center with their #MorganStanleyMinute series. Jessica Alsford, Head of Global Sustainability Research, discusses how firms can benchmark their gender diversity with a framework she came up with. And in this video, Global Head of Auto and Shared Mobility Adam Jonas shares his take on the future of the new space economy.
Build Your Executive Presence
Thought leadership has a direct impact on the buyer’s journey, with 56% of professionals stating that a business executive’s presence on social media positively influences their purchase decision and 66% of professionals saying they would be more likely to recommend a company or brand if they followed a company executive on social media. Right now, it’s important your executives are front and center, with 80% of employees and 90% of financial audiences looking to C-suite to communicate on social media during a crisis. Leaders in the financial category who are particularly strong at thought leadership include:
- Sallie Krawcheck, CEO and Co-Founder of Ellevest, who addresses topics like the gender wealth gap, the gender pay gap and investment strategies on her weekly LinkedIn Live Ask Me Anything series. Krawcheck is very accessible and engaging, answering questions directly from her audience to make them more financially literate. She posts consistently and has amassed 2.6 million followers as result.
- Thasunda Duckett, CEO of Chase Consumer Bank, shares authentically about her experience and reactions to current events, such as the George Floyd killing and how she carries congressman John Lewis’ principles with her as a leader. Duckett’s thought leadership adds a halo to the incredible $30 billion commitment J.P. Morgan Chase made to narrow the racial wealth gap.
Financial brands need not be afraid to have a strong voice during this time of constant change. When done authentically and strategically, your prospects, customers, employees and investors will thank you for it.
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