Where is Social Media in the Financial Services Industry?

August 31, 2012 Gary Ritkes

We all know social media is exploding everywhere we turn, and rightly so.  Never has there been a medium that came close to replicating the best selling method in the history of mankind; recommendations from a friend.

So how does this fit into the grand scheme of things within the financial services industry?  For me, it is apparent that this new “tool in the toolbox” is rising to the occasion, and should receive the attention it is getting. But beware; there are ways to play in this game, and those that learn how to play well will benefit immensely.

With that said, I just returned from the LIMRA/LOMA Social Media Conference in Boston.  The conference was comprised of C-suite & senior level executives within marketing, operations, and legal compliance.  While there were many redundant conversations, something you would expect when any new advertising medium hits a vertical, those conversations detailed the “state of affairs” at so many different levels within these companies.  Let’s be clear, we are talking about the biggest financial services firms in the industry and the bottom line is this is just the beginning.  The executives present were seeking as much information as possible.

The recurring theme was centered on educating the Financial Advisors out in the field.   The single most important factor was that these companies must have social media policies and guidelines in place before they allow their Advisors to venture down this road.  The large amount of training needed is vital to success, and will be a topic for years to come.  Being well versed in how to become a power user in Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and what emerges next will be the single biggest challenge.  I continued to hear about the time and effort the companies must invest in order to execute.  Like all human nature, there will be those that will adapt to this medium, and those that become overwhelmed at the thought of trying to gain expertise in this arena.  So what does this truly mean to the Advisors and the Brands that support them?  What options do they have, and what options can the Brands provide them?  And whose job is it anyway?

The dilemma: does the Brand do the work for the Advisor, or does the Advisor create their own voice? After many conversations with these executives, the resounding answer was that it needs to be a combination of both.  SproutLoud decided to tackle this industry and these challenges because of our existing experience in dealing with Agents and Independents that always want the Brand to do the execution on their behalf.  Quite frankly, this industry is no different.

So rather than force the Agent to do all the work, this industry will start looking at more automation in content publishing that can be customized at the local level.  That is exactly where SproutLoud has focused their efforts, but it doesn’t stop there.  The bigger issue is how to supplement the automated content with creating a unique voice locally from the Advisor.  Enter the “Marketing Concierge.”  All the Advisor wants to do is sell policies and provide a great service for their customers, who will in turn refer more customers. (The best Social method!) The Marketing Concierge can make this happen. Think about how your Brand can create an added value service that can provide dedicated folks to do just this. If you need some assistance in executing this concept, let us know on our Facebook page, or simply call us, we are very social!

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About the Author

Gary Ritkes

Gary Ritkes oversees all Business Development and Marketing at SproutLoud. He has been a pioneer in the emerging vertical of Distributed Marketing Technology and is an industry leader and innovator with 20+ years experience in graphic communications and marketing strategy. Gary has been involved with SproutLoud since the inception of the company. Prior to joining SproutLoud, Gary was VP of Marketing for Rex Three, Inc., SproutLoud’s first and largest vendor among its network of providers. He has served many Fortune 1000 clients and worldwide advertising agencies in providing marketing technology direction and optimization. He was an original founder of U.S. based Earth Color Group and a co-founder of Advanced Digital Services (ADS) which was sold in 1996 to publicly traded Katz Digital Technologies. He is a current board member of the local Advertising Federation chapter and has served as a member for other national industry associations including the DMA, AGA, and the CMO council.

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