Social media in Financial Services
As the number of social media users continues to grow every day, whether to have a social media presence is no longer a question. The benefits of including social media channels within your overall campaign strategy are countless (increasing exposure, boosting engagement, generating leads, developing loyal fans, building communities, etc.).
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What social media platform should your company use ?
The world of social media is evolving so rapidly that deciding which social platforms to include in your strategy is a big challenge. The emergence of new platforms brings new opportunities, but it can be overwhelming to keep in touch with what is going on. How to decide which social media to use? Just because there are new platforms does not mean you need to have a presence on them. Start with the channels that are important to your brand and are used by your potential clients.  These are our recommendations:
  • LinkedIn: LinkedIn is by far the most popular social media channel utilised by asset management firms. This is because LinkedIn members typically keep their profiles up-to-date, which presents an excellent business opportunity, allowing companies to target content to those individuals who really matter to their business. Professional audiences and decision makers can be searched and targeted by industry, job titles, seniority and more. LinkedIn is so much more than an online CV and a repository of contacts. The challenge for asset management companies is to step up from having a simple company bio based profile to designing a strategy to efficiently engage with the target audience and capitalise upon on it.
  • Twitter: Twitter is a conversation in real-time social platform where people are not afraid of expressing their thoughts and opinions. There are also many thought leaders using the platform. Additionally, users come to Twitter looking for news and research, which can provide your company with valuable market insights.
  • Xing: Xing is a Hamburg-based career-oriented social networking site. It is similar to LinkedIn, but in German. LinkedIn has only 14 million users in this region in comparison to Xing’s 17 million. If your campaigns target German speaking markets, you may well consider Xing to promote your brand and maximise content performance.

Western social media platforms such us Facebook and Twitter are still very popular in Asia. However, access is restricted in some key markets. The most used social platforms are:

  • WeChat: Wechat is the largest socia media in China with over 1.2 billion monthly active users. It is often described as China’s “app for everything” due to its wide range of services: news, bookings, food delivery, broadcast, instant messaging, video conferencing, video games, social media, mobile payment and more. As part of China’s mass surveillance network, political and sensitive topics are censored. All user activity, including accounts registered outside China, is tracked and analysed by Chinese authorities.
  • Sina Weibo: Commonly known as the ‘Twitter of China’, Sina Weibo is a microblogging website and platform with over 560 million monthly active users. It is China’s biggest social media platform after WeChat.
  • QQ: QQ is an instant messaging software service and web portal similar to WeChat, but with a slightly different demographic. With over 639 million users, it provides online social games, music, shopping, microblogging, movies, and group and voice chat software.
  • Line: Categorised as a super app and similar to the Chinese app WeChat mentioned previously, Line is a very popular social platform in Japan with over 89 million monthly active users. Beyond mobile messaging, voice calls and video calls, Line integrates tools for banking, shopping, newsfeed, cashless payments, games, TV streaming, restaurants, travel agents, healthcarse services, and more.
There are endless social platforms (global and local) and new ones are created every now and then. Making the decision to adopt new platforms comes down to where your investment clients are more likely to be found and how accurately the new social platform allows you to target the desired audience.
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How to build audience trust on social media?

When creating content for asset management firms, one needs to think about how social media fits within the overall campaign strategy. Social media aims to create brand awareness. However, awareness without trust in the brand does not result in client retention. Here are some tips on building trust through social media:

  • Expert content: Create content that portrays your company as an expert in the industry.
  • Compelling content: Avoid articles focusing on the organisation, products, or solutions. Publish content followers would like to read. For example, market insights from financial advisors. These tend to perform well as they are often seen as personal views from thought leadership employees. Providing social channels with content on a regular basis helps portray your company as a leader in the field. However, do not publish if your company has nothing to say. Create a content calendar to ensure social channels are regularly fed with content about the themes that matter the most to your company and industry sector.
  • Engagement: Addressing comments on social gives your company the opportunity to guide and shape conversations about the brand. Engage in social media messages and conversations. Your company should aim to foster dialogue. Do not ignore comments. Followers expect answers and online support in a quick turnaround. If marketing teams take days to respond, your brand can be perceived negatively. Also, unaddressed messages may be interpreted as disinterest and contribute to building an untrustworthy reputation. Your company will benefit from having a community manager strategy in place that aligns with compliance requirements in order to meet expectation from followers, generate engagement and build relationsships in a ‘safe’ manner.
  • Lead gen forms: A lead generation form is a LinkedIn ad that aims to generate high-quality leads at scale, capturing emails and other relevant information of potential customers, and ultimately generating measurable campaign revenue (cost per lead/ROI). Lead generation forms have become an important marketing solution for modern marketing teams. However, the big challenge for companies is the LinkedIn’s GDPR requirements approved in 2018 that include the following requirements regarding paid ad targeting:

    1. Responsibility of the GDPR-compliant data remains with advertisers (matched audiences).
    2. Members have the option to opt out of the use of their demographic data. Including from standard information such as Job Title, Job Function, Seniority, Skills, etc.
    3. User journeys can no longer point to a generic area of a website, it must be explicit as to what the Privacy Policy is and how an advertiser intends to use the data.
    4. User data collected via Lead Gen Forms must be deleted after 90 days. Also members can revoke their submissions at any time.

  • Humanise the brand. Banking, finance and asset management are industries that are often perceived as complex, rational and unapproachable due to the use of highly technical language. Minimise the use of ‘corporate speak’ and present ideas in a way that can be easily understood by the audience. Also, bringing a human story (known in marketing as storytelling) or putting a face to the investment subject content is an opportunity to re-examine and form a deeper connection with the audience. In the age of ESG, brands are now empowered to share and sell their values in a form that feels less like advertising and more emotional. As opposed to merely technical investment viewpoints and images of financial advisors portrayed in suits, the opportunity for asset management brands is to mix technical and human stories to connect with audiences making stories more ‘real’. In addition, your company may want to explore implementing an advocacy programme to give employees a voice on social media.
  • Advocacy programme: An advocacy programme helps your company establish employees as industry experts while raising the brand’s visibility through shared content. Asset management firms usually have internal policies and strict procedures that prevent employees accessing social media channels as part of their risk management plan. An advocacy programme provides an easy way for employees to discover pre-approved and compliant articles which can be shared within their social networks. Content published via an advocacy programme isn’t perceived as corporate and promotional which may result in boosting content reach and engagement.
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How to approach a social media crisis?

Negative experiences can be shared and spread rapidly on social media. A social media crisis usually involves negative emotions, which can easily trigger audiences to join in and create a wave of negativity. The challenge for financial services companies is to identify negative sentiment before any serious damage control is necessary. A listening tool can help mitigate potential issues by tracking mentions and conversations involving your company across the internet.

However, having a listening tool in place does not guarantee success. It needs an action plan. A good action plan presents an opportunity and should lay out all tasks to prepare teams to succeed:
  • Before a social crisis:
    • Establish what crisis means for your company. It is important the team understands when to act and escalate potential reputational damage.
    • Define with Corporate Communications which team would be responsible to examine every scenario.
    • Monitor every mention available. There is a lot of existing technology that may help brands listen to their customers and understand trends and conversations around your organisation. In addition to your social media publishing tool, your company may also wish to use a listening tool to track mentions when your brand has not been tagged.
  • During:
    • The one thing not to do is to ignore and expect comments to go away.
    • Pause all social publishing activities to avoid fuelling additional damage.
    • Inform all relevant departments: social media, marketing, brand, customer services, compliance…
    • Do not lie or try cover things up – Be transparent – address and resolve.
    • When possible, take the crisis off social media by providing an alternative way for the angry client to communicate with your company (email, phone, etc.)
  • After:
    • Evaluate, measure, and report. A crisis is always an opportunity to learn lessons.
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What industry regulations to consider on social media?

We have all been bombarded with investment opportunities on social media that seem too good to be true. To prevent malicious content and potential fraud, market regulators released rulebooks that contain guidance notes on financial promotion restrictions. These rules recognise that social media can be a powerful communication tool, and do not intend to prevent its use. They aim to help asset management firms understand how communications via social media can spread fast and very widely, and how content can end up in front of an unintended individual.

The challenge for asset management firms is to decipher how all these rules apply to the social media day-to-day activities, as not all industry regulations are compulsory requirements. Some rules are just best practise recommendations (i.e. to signpost content in the local language of the country your social post is targeting).

Furthermore, even within the frame of compulsory requirements, such as fund-specific content, there are exceptions to the rule. For example, fund specific content restrictions do not apply to Italy. This could be an opportunity to communicate more directly with Italian potential customers or target groups.

The FCA’s list of rules for the UK market is very long. The most important points are summarised below:

  • A financial promotion constitutes any form of social media communication which “includes an invitation or inducement to engage in financial activity”.
  • All communications (including financial promotions) must be clear, fair and not misleading. Content that is unclear, unfair or misleading represents a high risk to clients and other companies.
  • Social media posts must not contain a financial promotion within the content.
  • Each social media communication needs to be considered individually and comply with the relevant rules.
  • Every potential financial promotion must include a risk warning or be made clear that it is a promotion in the message, regardless of character limits of the social platform.
  • One possible solution to the problem of character limitation is to insert images, including the use of infographics, which allows relatively unrestricted information to be conveyed. Clearly, the image itself must be compliant.
  • In certain occasions, social posts may include multiple disclaimers. For example, ‘for investment professionals only’ to define the target audience intended for your content and ‘capital at risk’ to advice on market volatility.
  • Driving traffic from social media to a financial promotion is acceptable, when the social post has been ‘standalone’ compliant, and the site is protected by an opt-in barrier page that contains all relevant risk warnings.
  • Hashtags are not an appropriate way to identify promotional content and don’t adequately convey the risk warnings needed.
  • The FCA reminds firms of their obligations to have a system in place to retain a copy of all digital media communications for a period of at least 5 years.
Social media presents many challenges for highly regulated industries. Navigating the regulations and ensuring compliance may steer some companies away from this type of engagement. Social media is becoming a very saturated channel, and asset management firms must therefore find ways to cut through the nosie in order to connect and engage with potential and existing customers. Understanding the regulations, and developing and implementing a thoughtful plan for social engagement, will allow your company to stay compliant whilst reaping the benefits of these highly interactive platforms.
David Jiménez García
Client Social Media & Content Lead
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Social media in Financial Services

As the number of social media users continues to grow every day, whether to have a social media presence is no longer a question. The benefits of including social media channels within your overall campaign strategy are countless (increasing exposure, boosting engagement, generating leads, developing loyal fans, building communities, etc.).

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