As Head of Content & Social Media for a large global finance company I am the first to admit … financial services came late to the social media party.
But we’ve come a long way. A survey of 500 financial advisors by Corporate Insight released earlier in 2015 found that 2 out of 3 finance brands now use social media for business. The most popular network is LinkedIn with 52%, followed by Facebook with 24% and Twitter with 13%.
Managing social media for financial services has inherent challenges. However the benefits of client acquisition, branding, customer service and thought leadership are there for the taking — so let’s take a look at overcoming them together.
You HAVE to understand and overcome complaince and regulation to succeed in managing social media for a financial services company.
Regulators like CySEC, the FCA and FSA strictly govern banks, lenders, trading companies and other financial institutions and believe me … they don’t mess around. Every image, link, and comment you post must be compliant or you run the risk of landing your brand in hot water with a regulatory fine. Regulatory fines can run into the millions and could be for something as trivial as using the word “will” instead of “may.”
Following increasing pressure from social media managers, the FCA recently released this guide which addresses important issues like how to add risk warnings to short tweets and how to display JPEGs. It’s pretty useful but still leaves us with a huge responsibility and a lot of restrictions.
Let’s be honest: the financial world can be pretty dull — so how can you make it look exciting? This is where you will need a skilled social media manager because product visualization in the online finance world is tough. We are not allowed to show any images which give the impression of instant wealth, openly invite people to invest, make investment look easy or trivialize the risk factor.
A few financial companies which I feel have done a great job of this via social media are easy-forex which allows followers to get to know its employees, Barclays UK which focuses on community interaction and engagement, and MasterCard which fully utilizes its YouTube channel. The key, as with most social media, is to connect human to human. This approach tends to be less of a worry in terms of regulation.
If you thought social media was fast moving then you never worked in finance.
Currency movements are second-to-second with regular breaking news announcements happening throughout the day. Investors are constantly waiting for the latest updates regarding issues such as Non Farm Payroll and FED announcements. Because you will not know the outcome of these events until they happen it is necessary to pay attention to financial channels or in my case, fully utilize Twitter! Your followers will be looking to you for the latest market news which can be a pretty demanding responsibility.
Contests… in the finance world? Surely that’s not possible! Well it is: you just have to play it carefully.
Remember that you are the public spokesperson for a very serious and heavily regulated brand. Your prizes may be credit or tangible prizes although you need to confirm that with your legal team. Consider an educational giveaway or prize such as an eBook or free training session… these always go down well.
The benefits of using Facebook marketing tools like the ones offered by Agorapulse is that you are able to run contests in accordance with Facebook’s terms and conditions. This is really important because if you are a large page you could risk losing it completely if you break the house rules.
The other advantage is that you can add terms and conditions and legally gather opt-in data.
Bad PR is a nightmare for all social media managers but for those managing financial services brands it can be especially tricky. Why? Because you know that 72% of people who complain on Twitter expect a response in an hour — yet the wrong response could land your brand in hot water. So if you have a few unhappy clients, your entire morning could be spent researching their individual cases, formulating a response with your legal team and responding to the client.
I hope that you found these tips useful and remember: if you can succeed in managing social media for financial services, you are truly awesome!