Of all the large-scale changes in marketing and communications, social media is arguably top of the pile for impact.
And there’s plenty of space for FS firms to utilise social media to further their client comms. The Global Web Index reveals that 97% of adults between the ages 16-64 signed into at least one social network in the last month – but 89% of social media messages to brands are ignored. Why do so many brands ignore so many messages from so many customers?
For the FS sector, sensitivity and discretion requires its own unique approach to a channel, primarily devoted to open and public conversation.
Philly Apthorpe sums up the delicate balance required: “It’s important to have a presence and regular interactions with your target audience – and social media is a really effective way of doing this.
But from a Financial Services perspective, compared to FMCG brands for example, I would say we are more conservative. So what we tend to put out on social media focuses on thought leadership and brand awareness.”
It’s a familiar tale: the challenges around how to remain sufficiently professional on a highly personal channel.
“We’re trying to embrace social media,” says Rick Andrews, “but there are lots of regulatory constraints.
“We need to be careful about what we say, how we say it, what records we can keep. In the US, for example, the regulator insists we have full and accurate records of all communications that happen.”
The electronic paper trail of email communication is easily traced – the mail can be signed off by compliance, sent out from central servers. It is also simple to register when it’s been received and read by its audience. Social media communication does not have the same degree of control – especially when you throw the accounts of regional branches, brokers or sales executives into the mix.
At the other end of the scale, for some FS firms, social media just doesn’t make sense at part of their comms strategy.
For Josh Mahony at Liquidnet for example. “We don’t use Facebook. We have a small Twitter presence and some LinkedIn too. But social is just not our market – it’s not where our audience is. The winner for us is through more traditional relationship building, often via face-to-face meetings.
The huge volume of customers on social media makes it a tough proposition to ignore. But FS firms should have the confidence and knowledge of their own clientele and tackle social media – or not – accordingly.