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How Financial Marketers Should Be Using Social Media

About 18 months ago, I attended a conference focused on digital marketing for the financial industries. I expected to hear a lot about segmentation, retargeting, and complex nurturing campaigns. Instead, I was surprised to find that everyone wanted to talk about social media and how to use it within heavily regulated financial marketing campaigns. I had assumed that the financial industry would be leading the way in this highly effective, mature marketing channel. I was wrong.

If you aren’t a financial marketer, you might wonder why the financial industry is so hesitant to engage in blogging, social media, and other community-generated content activities. The answer lies in the heavy regulations enforced for financial content. The Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) have created a cumbersome process for publishing any content, let alone content that needs to be generated quickly to engage today’s highly active online users, or is generated by those users themselves. (Medical institutions face similar challenges from FDA and HIPPA regulations.)

As a result, many financial institutions remain highly conservative when it comes to new media. However, following several best practices can help firms produce regular content like newsletters, emails, social posts, blogs, and video.

Financial Industry Social Media Marketing: Best Practices

Follow FINRA Rule 2210

This rule describes in detail the record keeping and regulations around public communications. Rule 2210 defines three types of communication, each with their own requirements: Correspondence, Institutional communication; and Retail communication.

Set up a defined, but flexible approval system

Make sure you have a group of designated people who can approve content, that each person is intimately familiar with the regulations for their specific type of content, and that others in the organization know what needs to be approved and by whom. Having this system in place and well defined allows you to more quickly generate and respond to content.

Stay up to date on the latest regulations

FINRA and the SEC are regularly updating their guidelines regarding online and electronic communication. Taking the time to stay up to date on these changes can save you time (and money) in the long run. For example, FINRA Regulatory Notice 12-29 clarifies recommendations on social media to indicate that social media managers no longer need pre-approval on their posts. At the same time, in October 2015 FINRA amended Rule 2210 to require each member’s Web site to include a readily apparent reference and hyperlink to BrokerCheck on specific pages of the site.

Focus on what works

Once you’ve got a system in place and are able to start participating in blogging or social media, pay close attention to what is working for you. Where are consumers engaging? What is driving action? Then, focus on those activities and hone your processes to allow you to maximize your ROI in online content.

Imitate others

Look at your competitors and the top financial organizations to see what they are doing and follow their lead. There’s nothing wrong with creating content that is similar to other’s, as long as it’s authentic and unique to you and your brand. To get started, here are a few good examples of financial organizations engaging in social media.

Examples of Financial Social Media Marketing

Chase Banking Facebook Page

Chase leverages a lot of video to engage their subscribers and encourage both commenting and sharing. Digital video, especially on Facebook and YouTube, is one of the hottest trends in online marketing to mature consumers. For the first time, older adults now spend more time online than they do watching television.

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American Express OPEN Forum

This well-organized, easy to navigate resource contains numerous blog articles that provide valuable information about running a business, all within a branded website.

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Your Retirement Reality

Immersion Active developed this YouTube channel for a client to help explain complex financial concepts around annuities and funding your retirement.

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Bank of America YouTube Channel

Bank of America leverages its YouTube channel to connect with consumers on a variety of topics including better money habits, military, financial education and more. YouTube is the second largest search engine behind Google, so covering a variety of relevant topics and leverage strong keywords in your descriptions are key components of a video campaign focused on older adults.

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It’s Time to Start

As experts at marketing to boomers and seniors, we’ve seen first-hand how effective social marketing can be. In this day and age, having a strong social presence is almost a necessity and foregoing social media channels because of regulatory concerns is certainly a mistake.

With a well-designed campaign, financial marketers can reach audiences on social platforms in a way that complies with industry regulations while still generating great content and engagement.

If you’re not sure where to start, let us know. At Immersion Active, we work with those marketing to seniors to create campaigns that work. As a financial marketer, it’s time that you start wading into the waters of social media marketing. We’ll be here to help you navigate them.

Note: This information in this article is not intended to constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon in lieu of consultation with appropriate legal advisors.

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