SmartBrief’s recent webinar “Building Equity: Social Media Meets Finance” covered best practices for developing a social-media strategy ,as well as how financial companies in particular can benefit from having a social-media presence. Regulator FINRA also shared key points from its recent regulatory notice on social-media sites.

The webinar participants had more questions to ask than there was time to address — so SmartBrief took those unanswered questions and put them to the speakers. If you missed the webinar, click here to access the recording.

Since social media is really about building relationships and having a conversation with your customers, can give specific examples where customer input has had an influence on business strategy?

Shiv Singh, author of “Social Media Marketing for Dummies” and director of digital marketing at PepsiCo North America: Having just joined PepsiCo, I can say one example in terms of product strategy is the Mountain Dew Democracy campaign, which asked consumers to determine the flavors of a limited-edition Mountain Dew variant. That product is now being sold commercially. With social media driving business strategy, my favorite example is the American Red Cross. They’ve changed the way they raise money thanks to social media.

How are financial services companies in the B2B space utilizing social media?

Singh: Financial services companies in the [business-to-business] space are doing much less largely because they need to stay at the pace of their customers and not be too far ahead. However, organizations like TIAA-CREF are using social media to build their brands. The Raise the Rate program that they just launched is a perfect example of that.

How do FINRA rules apply to registered investment advisers (RIAs)?

Amy Sochard, director of programs and investigations, Advertising Regulation Department of FINRA: FINRA rules apply to the business conduct of broker dealers that are members of FINRA and their associated persons, regardless of whether the firm or individual is also a registered investment adviser. FINRA rules do not apply to firms that are not members of FINRA or to individuals that are not associated with FINRA member firms. FINRA does not apply the Advisers Act Rules.

Click here for a copy of FINRA’s Regulatory Notice 10-06 on Social Media Web Sites.

What would you describe as your most successful social-media initiative to date and why?

Amy Dobra, principal and head of retail client experience, The Vanguard Group: I would have to say the Vanguard blog. For one thing, it accessible — users don’t need another account to access the information, and we have also integrated it into our monthly e-mail newsletter to clients so it’s easy to find it there or on our home page. There are also no privacy or perceived technical hurdles, which has prevented some from accessing our other social outlets. And lastly, we are getting rich feedback from clients, solid readership – and it helped to forge the processes now used by our other forays into social media.

Do you have any best practice suggestions for dealing with comments on blogs, Facebook, etc?

Dobra: I feel like I can’t say it enough … make the time and resource commitment. For example, Facebook seems “lightweight” to people, but it’s not. If you are in a regulated industry, then you need to monitor and retain everything. We continue to look for ways to make the process more efficient, but don’t underestimate the manual component — at this point, technology can only take you so far, so you need to plan to have staff looking at everything. You also need to take a breath, since not all comments will be rosy. You can’t just jump in at the tiniest issue; it’s much better to allow for the community itself to self-correct the conversation. Think about engaging when you think you are really going to add value or if you need to correct false information being discussed. Of course, you need to establish clear commenting guidelines so that fans have set expectations on what is not allowed on the page. From our experience, generally fans appreciate the openness and aren’t surprised when comments are deleted.

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15 responses to “Experts answer your questions about social media for the finance industry”

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  2. Adam says:

    Really fantastic blog post, Emily.

    I have to echo Amy Dobra's statement: "If you are in a regulated industry, then you need to monitor and retain everything."

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  7. James Cella says:

    I'm glad I found this. Thank you some much for the information Emily!

  8. Ben says:

    Nice Emily. Social media is hugely important because like you said it gives the Customer and Consumer a chance to talk back to you. Listening to them is more important that listening to your own brain.
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  9. Adam says:

    What does Shiv Singh from PepsiCo know about Financial Services? Could have gotten a better participant. Otherwise, you obviously have to meet customers where they are and if that is social media, so be it. However, only retail Financial Services so far are really proving that social media is a positive investment. Other verticals within social media are doing it mostly to follow the crowd as well as build brand equity.
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  10. It's really interesting to think of companies like Vanguard running blogs after being there from the beginning with blogging and seeing how they originally started. We're using the same concept in our real estate market since it hasn't been tried yet and have had positive feedback already. I like examples.
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  11. Justin@Loans says:

    I barely find the time to keep my blogs running let alone strike up conversations with people on facebook or twitter which would be a nightmare and I'd be worried about forgetting details about the last conversation I had and sounding phony. Ok for large companies with a pr department but for little businesses or even one man bands isn't the time better spent elsewhere
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  12. @Moneysanity says:

    Fantastic post!

    I really like what ING Direct is doing with social media, especially compared to other banks and thrifts. They have 16,000+ twitter followers as well as 37,000 people on Facebook and a Klout score of 58.
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  13. Nisha says:

    A very interesting read, I do think think this is a werid but wonderful way to stay in contact with customers, but I am sure there are stranger things out there.
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