There’s no denying that social media is no longer a “nice to have.” It’s a required part of any company’s marketing strategy, in any industry. Although the financial services industry has been the last industry to adopt social media, it has definitely arrived and is now more important than ever.
Banks are meeting their customers’ real-time response expectations by using social media and banking apps. Wire houses such as Morgan Stanley now allow their financial advisors to use Twitter and LinkedIn to market themselves and connect with clients. And even boutique asset managers such as Salient are spotlighting their senior executives (Ben Hunt and Jeremy Radcliffe) and portfolio managers (Nic Millikan) through Twitter.
I spoke to Harriet Britt, Senior Consultant for Oyster Consulting LLC, who works with many different broker dealer firms, RIA’s and IA’s about the social media trends she’s seeing.
“At the SIFMA conference the last 3 years, the people who attended were mostly compliance people trying to figure out how to manage social media, what are the risks, what are the benefits? But this year (February 2016) the meeting was attended primarily by the social media marketers – the CMO’s, the teams creating the content and managing it. It’s now gone from ‘how do we use it’ to the people who ‘are’ using it. The practitioners. Amongst the reps who are using it at the larger/medium sized firms, what I consistently hear, if they aren’t using social media, they’re not going to attract the young offspring of their clients, or younger clients at all. It’s a generational thing. There are now a lot of advisors who’ve either brought their kids or other young people onto their teams that could help them develop their social media strategies – so, it’s a succession planning tool as well.”
But what if your company is still resisting social media due to lack of understanding and/or the potential risks? Educate them.
How to succeed with Social Media Compliance in Financial Services
As the social media advocate, it’s your job to build your social advocacy team and put together a strategy to show senior leadership the vast benefits of social media marketing.
- Pull together your social advocacy team
- Together, create your strategy
- Align your goals with your company’s business initiatives and priorities
- Include examples of other senior executives in the industry who are already successfully using social media. This will help them see that it’s simply another way to promote the marketing content you’re already generating, such as white papers and other thought-leadership.
- Set up a meeting with your senior leaders, i.e. CEO, CCO, HR, Communications team, Legal and IT.
- Present your strategy and make sure everyone feels comfortable with it.
- Education is key, but some execs might not want to raise their hand in a group setting; offer private one-on-one trainings and help them set up their own LinkedIn or Twitter profiles to get them started.
- Once you have executive buy-in, ask how they’d like to go about the approval process and write the policy.
- Decide if you want one or two policies; an overall company policy, and/or an employee authorized social media brand advocate policy, empowering certain employees to share posts about the company.
- Align your policy with your company’s existing communications policy for email, IM and other forms of communication.
- Be sure to tailor the program to your organizations’ size, business and culture. Focus on protecting your brand and reputation.
“It’s important for the marketing team to collaborate with the compliance team and prove that they have a strong understanding and respect for the regulations.”
But Gidget doesn’t put the onus on marketing entirely.
“Most CCO’s say no to social media because they don’t know it, and the lack of knowledge about what it can do is scary. You need to get in there and learn it. I have control over our social media, I’m the administrator on all of our company based social media sites along with our marketing manager. To have control, you have to know how to use it. This is another reason why it’s important as a CCO, to take the time to learn it. Besides, social media is pretty cool, powerful and fun and you won’t realize that unless you get in there and get your hands dirty.”
It’s truly a team effort putting together a policy that’s easy to understand, effectively protects your business and empowers your employee brand advocates. After launching your program, include your CCO in your regular marketing meetings so they can continue to learn and see the value of social media and be a part of the planning process. It’s important to continue employee training sessions and share your progress with the company. Education, dedication and consistency will set you up for social success!
Here are a few of the platforms available for SEC/FINRA required record retention:
Are you involved in creating social media policies for a financial services companies? We’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic. Drop us a comment below or tweet us @kurtosys.