5 hacks for harnessing the power of social media in financial services

Interviews

by Katrina Bullock

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Social Tree Global co-founders, Max Hannah and James Saward-Anderson share their top 5 hacks for harnessing the power of social media in financial services.

Katrina Bullock: 
Hello, Katrina Bullock for the Finance News Network. And joining me today from Social Tree Global are it's co-founders, Max Hannah and James Saward-Anderson. Gentlemen, welcome to the network.

James Saward-Anderson: Pleasure to be here.

Max Hannah: Yeah. Fantastic. Really excited.

Katrina Bullock: Max and James are not only the co-founders of one of Europe's largest social media agencies dedicated to the business-to-business sector, they're also the driving force behind the upcoming 2020 Social Media in Finance (SMIF) conference. And today they have graciously agreed to share their top five tips for harnessing the power of social media in financial services with us. And throwing over to you, James, for hack number one.

James Saward-Anderson: Thank you. So yeah, hack number one is to move away from a monologue to a dialogue on social media. So, for the last few decades, finance brands have essentially had a one-way conversation with their consumers or any key stakeholder involved in their communication strategy. On social media, that does not work. If you're just going to shout at people, they're not going to listen. What people want, particularly in finance, is not only information, but they want to understand how you got that information. How did you come to that decision? What are the thought processes behind your logic? They want to be brought into the conversation. They want to feel like they are equal partners. You don't have to understand and have all the answers in front of you. So that's hack number one, move away from a monologue to a dialogue and bringing your consumers and customers and other key stakeholders into the conversation.

Katrina Bullock: Very comforting first hack to start with. Max, over to you for hack number two.

Max Hannah: Yeah. So hack number two, when companies are planning their social media campaigns, one of the most powerful resources people can look at is actually their employees because people love to hear from people. So, we've been doing some amazing work with UBS over here in Europe. And they have an amazing employee advocacy program working with some of the actual asset managers, empowering them and training them to get more active on social media. So, if you're looking for new ways to dominate on social media, look at your employees, empower them, and you're going to get some fantastic results.

Katrina Bullock: And Max, any tips for finding those little nuggets of gold, those employees within the organisation that are really great for engagement?

Max Hannah: Yeah. So it definitely needs to be an opt in. You don't want to force everyone to do it because it's not going to go down well. But yeah, look for those people who want to get active on social media, who are good at producing content. They can often be more of the extroverts in your organisation, maybe a bit bigger egos than the rest. But just work with them, have an opt in. And we've put together a program called social transformation, and we've been working with organisations to try and find that talent in your organisation. But you only need say 10 - 15 people, it doesn't have to be the whole company. But if you do that right then, yeah, watch your social media blow up.

Katrina Bullock: There you go. So if Max taps you on the shoulder, it's because he thinks you have a big ego.

Max Hannah: Yes, you've been picked. We've chosen you.

Katrina Bullock: And James, over to you for hack number three.

James Saward-Anderson: Yes. I think hack number three is get your compliance team involved in a social media program from day one. And this is something we learned from a brilliant presentation of HSBC and the compliance team, is that if you get your compliance team involved on day one, they feel like they own or have ownership over your social media policy. And what happens is you can really build a much more curating, personalised social media program, which ticks all the boxes internally. So what we don't want to do is spend all this time creating a great social media program and it goes to the compliance team, they say, "No, no, no, no, no". So you bring them in from day one, get them involved. And they are pro-business. Everyone's in business to do business. They're not going to shut things down. Social media is a really important tool. I'd argue now, particularly in 2020, the risk of not doing a social media is far greater than the risk of doing social media. And if you create the right sand pit, so that sand pit usually consists of the right people, the right processes and the right technology, then you can mitigate risk. You can build a well of goodwill on social media, a good community. So if the unlikely happens and there is an incident, you have the right training and procedures in place to mitigate the damage to your brand. So that's the third hack and it's an important one.

Katrina Bullock: That's perfect. It's been a really interesting year, particularly with COVID-19. We've seen so many bricks and mortar businesses have to learn some very, very new ways of engaging online. And we've certainly seen those who are a little bit ahead of the curve in terms of their social media engagement really leverage that opportunity. Others, however, not so fortunate, but ashes are the best fertiliser for growth. So over to you for tip number four, Max.

Max Hannah: Yeah. So tip number four, when you're a finance brand, it can seem overwhelming looking at all of the social media channels out there. You've got TikTok, which has just blown up and a lot of brands looking at where should I invest my time? What's going to get the best returns to me? So we are big advocates of LinkedIn. We think LinkedIn is an amazing platform. So if you're a finance brand, it's now time to double down on LinkedIn.
We've done a lot of research. Research people finding has your usage of LinkedIn increased? And the answer is “yes”. More people are spending time on the platform now as they're not going out to meetings. So if you are looking at channels, double down on LinkedIn. And over here, the London Stock Exchange have done some amazing work on that channel. Because if we think about the audience they're often high net worth individuals, they're professional brands. A lot of wealth managers use that platform to find potential new clients, but it has got so much more competitive because everyone is flocking to the channel. And if you want to be ahead of the game, what you were doing before is no longer good enough. You need to up your game now. You need to take risks with content and you really need to be doubling down on that platform. And it's better to do one platform right than try to do every platform or channel badly.

Katrina Bullock: It's so interesting to hear you mention TikTok, Max, because it's a channel with an entirely different aesthetic and a really different, I think, followership in Australia at the moment. Do you recommend that as an up and coming channel that's something financial companies should be looking at? Or is that the sort of thing they should maybe stay away from and consolidate with other channels like LinkedIn?

Max Hannah: Well, if you're targeting younger consumers, so the average age of TikTok users are 15-16 upwards, in that sort of bracket, teenager bracket. So if you're a brand that wants to gain customers in that specific bracket, then yeah, TikTok could be a good channel for you. But we do a lot of work with finance brands and getting them just to have a profile picture is a big ask. So to get some people in the finance brands getting on TikTok and doing some dance moves might be a bit of a challenge. But if your audience is there, it's well worth looking at it, and it's an untapped channel. A lot of people are still trying to figure it out, but LinkedIn is definitely the safe choice, you know.

Katrina Bullock: Thanks. and over to you Jame, for hack number five. Lucky last.

James Saward-Anderson: Yeah. So on that tangent, hack number five is to utilise Sales Navigator and Sales Navigator is a tool within LinkedIn. And we have clients in the capital market space and what's happening with the buying journey is that the buying journey now is getting shorter and shorter for a sales person. So people are becoming better educated about products. They're really having a digital experience before they even come to your sales team to ask about a solution. And when you're selling very complicated post-trade technology, then your sales team need to become consultants and really bring value far earlier in the buying journey, because you want to have some captive voice in that segment. So if you're relying on your legacy brand to get clients, then you're going to struggle as time goes on. What people want is an experience where they're seeing a human being. Now understanding that this person, she understands my problems. She understands my concerns. She's an expert. And she has a real underpinning of what she's speaking about and real passion for her technology or whatever she's selling. So, it's really important that when you use LinkedIn, you use Sales Navigator to build a real dossier of intelligence on your potential clients, your whole ecosystem of stakeholders, and begin to create content, as I mentioned early on, which has a conversation, which brings people in, which has that that dialogue over a monologue, and if you do that well you can build a really coherent thought leadership program with the sales teams and it should get more business.

Katrina Bullock: Wonderful. Thanks James. Now I understand that you will be doing a bit more of a deep dive into the world of social media within the financial industries at the upcoming Social Media in Finance conference. What can you tell us about that?

James Saward-Anderson: Yeah. So Social Media in Finance 2020 is our third year and it's the industry event which people come to if you want to find out about the latest trends, technology and agency updates in social media and finance. So, this year we have Facebook kicking off the day. We have platform updates from LinkedIn. So if you want to have the intelligence updates from the platforms themselves, this is the event to come to. We also have case studies from UBS. They're going to be speaking about their social sharing program, which is a really exciting initiative across the asset management division. They're going to talk about that. We have technology updates from Meltwater, Analytica and we also have some creative insights from the Economist Group and Real Vision. So the whole conference is aimed to really tackle those three central pillars. If you can get your creative right, then you're winning. If you can get your processes right, then you're winning even more. And finally, if you can bring in the right technology, then you're laughing. So that's the event. It's going to take place over three weeks. So I'm not going to get people sitting down for eight hours to look at a screen. It'll be very interactive. And yeah, it's going to be really exciting. And hopefully people get a lot of value from it.

Katrina Bullock: Just to reiterate those top five hacks.
1. Move from a monologue to a dialogue.
2. Harness the power of your employees.
3. Empower compliance by integrating them into the process early.
4. The risk of not doing social media is much greater than the risk of doing it, so double down, particularly on LinkedIn.
5. Make your sales team social superstars.
James and Max, thank you so much for taking the time to share your top five hacks with us today. We'll see you at the conference.

James Saward-Anderson: Pleasure. Thank you.

Max Hannah: Thank you.