Social Media and the Financial Services industry – discussion notes from Social Media Business Boosters
With the policies and technology solutions in place today that can help to protect them, we will soon see a tidal wave of financial advisers, legal professionals and medical practitioners who will emerge as digital thought leaders in these important relationship-centric professions.
Social media presents an opportunity to add value for clients, share information quickly, network with other professionals, and shed marketing, customer service, product development and recruitment costs.
Drawing upon Australian Bureau of Statistics’ data, there are nearly 11 million internet subscribers in Australia, and according to research firm Nielsen, Australians are leading users of social media. As a percentage of internet use in the last 12 months:
73% read other people’s, discussions and comments on brands, products and services at some stage (26% do so regularly)
59% watched online videos about brands, products and services (12% do so regularly)
46% have clicked the Facebook ‘Like’ button for a brand/organisation (17% do so regularly)
42% have interacted with a company through social network sites (15% do so regularly)
Using social media to drive business
Social Media can help those in the Financial Services industry:
- generate leads
- provide valuable content, such as articles and videos to their current client base
- demonstrate expertise on topics of strength
- build their brand
- reduce marketing spend
- lower recruitment costs
Facebook is a very attractive place for businesses, simply due to the 1 billion+ users actively participating on the website. A unique feature that Facebook offers firms, is the ability to create their own ‘fan page’ that can be connected to an existing client base as well as clients’ wider networks. Business fan pages comprise pertinent information including:
- company overview
- services provided
- website link
- contact information
- company news and status updates.
Fan pages also have a ‘Like’ button which users can click, and a running counter of how many times this button has been clicked on that page. Users generally click the ‘Like’ button if’they think well of a company. Simply, the more ‘Likes’ a fan page has, the better it looks.
Linkedln is widely regarded as the social networking website of choice for professionals. The service has over 200 million members worldwide, with more than two and a half million in Australia.
Linkedln lets users post a profile of their professional expertise and accomplishments – essentially a living, breathing resume viewable online by anyone (depending on privacy settings). Members can add other Linkedln users they know to their ‘network’. This allows them to see other’s profiles, contacts and exchange messages. For example, Financial advisers on Linkedln generally show details including:
- job title
- current role
- previous experience
- recommendations from employers and/or other professionals
- membership of relevant associations ) education qualifications and achievements
- connections links to personal website.
Linkedln can prove very useful to professionals, as it provides a platform for acquiring new clients through recommendations, recruiting other professionals and building a network.
Acquiring new clients through recommendations
One of the most common strategies employed by successful businesses is to obtain recommendations from satisfied clients.
Linkedln allows users to solicit recommendations from other members, whether they are clients or former colleagues. Recommendations are published on a user’s profile and can be visible to anyone (depending on privacy settings).
Recommendations can be an effective drawcard for other users browsing a particular profile.
For example an adviser can ask a satisfied client for a Linkedln recommendation regarding the quality of the advice they provided. That recommendation can be viewed by other prospective clients on the adviser’s Linkedln profile.
Recruiting other professionals
Linkedln is sometimes regarded as being the ‘recruiter’s best friend’, as it allows employers to look at the profiles of other users for free.
Building a network
Another appealing feature of Linkedln is the ability for users to find ‘groups’ in order to network with other people in the industry. Linked In is able to recommend groups that are likely to be of interest to advisers, based on their connections.
Did you know?
These are several of the biggest financial adviser communities on Linkedln:
Financial Planners Australia
‘An active group of 885 financial planners who are almost exclusively based in Australia. Common topics discussed on the group page include: client relationship, practice management and industry issues. There is also a fairly regular exchange of investment ideas, and the frequency of user generated content is relatively high:
NSW Financial Planning Network
‘One of several region-specific adviser networks on Linkedln. This group haslover 530 members engaging in frequent and responsive dialogue exchange. Networking opportunities in this group are … [numerous], with members keen to respond and provide advice to fellow members. Topics discussed in this group include: practice management and industry issues as well as regulatory developments. Although this group is for New South Wales professionals, similar groups exist for in other states:
One of the largest finance-related groups on Linkedln with over 146,000 members worldwide. Given the global nature of the group, the topics discussed are broad. However, using the segmentation functionalities on Linkedln it is possible to narrow the scope of potential networking opportunities to a particular geographic location and area of expertise.
Wealth Management – Advice (Australia)
‘A forum and networking group with 735 members. It is for professionals in wealth management advice including: compliance, technical services, financial advisers, paraplanners, learning and development and practice management:
Australian Finance Professionals Referral Network
‘A group of 896 members concentrating on fostering referral and networking relationships between finance professionals in Australia. The group is designed for financial advisers, accountants, recruitment consultants and legal professionals looking to share contacts and generate a referral network within Australia. People from other relevant backgrounds looking to develop new referral sources and find common clients are also encouraged to join:
Australian Risk Advisers
One of the first and largest risk-specific Australian Linkedln groups, with over 300 members. Members discuss a wide range of topics including complex claims scenarios; product definitions and technology. Members are also willing to share tips on success drivers, such as marketing, networking and referrals, and client care. Source: Zurich Financial Services Australia, 2011
Twitter revolves around the principle of ‘followers’ rather than friends, so a user carr ‘follow’ another Twitter member and receive their tweets, however, the reverse does not necessarily apply.
Interestingly, Twitter is widely used by government ministers and businesses to provide quick updates and views.
For example The Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation, Bill Shorten, tweets legislative updates to more than 3,000 followers.
There are a number of good reasons for professionals to participate in and maintain a presence on Twitter. These include:
- meeting potential customers and leads
- developing and promoting their brand
- providing the ability to interact with clients
- tracking what people are saying about their business
- creating a ‘buzz’ around upcoming events
- helping individual employees act as liaison agents to the public
- promoting content created by the company, including: webinars, blogs or podcasts.
For targeting a particular segment of the population you can track active conversations on Twitter and amongst a particular ‘gathering’ of people or track conversations in a geographical area – a great way to participate is simply to appropriately join the conversation
For example A self managed superannuation fund (SMSF) adviser based in the suburbs of Sydney accumulated 160 followers over time by constantly sending tweets of value and interest to his clients. He recently tweeted information on:
- the performance of the stock market
- what the Reserve Bank of Austraiia’s December rate cut means for borrowers and self-funded retirees
- what happens if an SMSFgoes bankrupt, and strategies for bankrupt SMSFs
- a significant announcement regarding the European debt crisis.
YouTube is the world’s most popular video-sharing website. Over 3 billion videos are displayed on the site each day and 800 million users visit it every month.
Advantages for Financial Services professional
The benefits provided by YouTube to most professional services include:
- the ability to upload videos for free
- a means of generating possible leads
- the potential to reach out to more clients compared with a typical seminar
- a way of demonstrating value to clients.
YouTube can effectively be thought of as a free TV channel. Advisers are increasingly producing good-quality videos with just their smartphone or a camera, for example, putting it on YouTube and sending it to their clients.
A blog is another great way for professionals to build their brand and demonstrate their values. Some advisers and principals actively blog on topics such as the economy, insurance, investments and superannuation. It can be extremely time consuming to engage in social for professionals to try and implement every social media application.
Social media, and in fact producing your own content for social media, can be a very demanding mistress. Social Media Business Boosters recommends considering carefully what each platform offers and any associated benefits).
With a well-crafted strategy and appropriate risk protocols in place, social media platforms can add significant value to the profile of advisers. Parts of this text are adapted from an original article by Kapplan Education (Feb 2012).