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The Rise of Social Recruitment, Early Adoption, and Other Insights from LIMRA's 2015 Social Media Conference

August 27, 2015

IMG_8578Last year, when Stephen Selby, Assistant Vice President of Regulatory Services for LIMRA, announced that the LIMRA LOMA Social Media Conference for Financial Services (#LLSMC) was coming to San Francisco, no one was more excited about the news than I was. You could hear the enthusiasm in what at the time was only our third Hearsay Social On the Air podcast.  

As many of you know, Hearsay Social is based in San Francisco, and having the conference in our hometown was going to provide us an opportunity to show off our beloved city to all the social professionals in attendance and “paint the town red.” Our keycard photo competition was built to get people out of the hotel, explore our city and have some fun at the same time. 

I’ve been lucky to attend #LLSMC for the past four years in a row, providing me an opportunity to observe just how far the financial services industry has evolved in a very short amount of time. Changing consumer expectations and the growth of the internet of things has certainly forced this industry to adapt. Well, I am happy to report that the financial services industry is not only evolving, it is thriving. I hope my ongoing optimism isn’t clouding my objectivity.

As you can imagine, wrapping up three days of conference activity isn’t easy, so after careful reflection, here are my four key takeaways from this year’s conference:

1. Social recruitment is on the rise

A new and welcomed addition to the conference was a Hackathon session on day one that was led by Greg Bailey (@gbaileyco), Partner at Insure.VC. and known industry veteran. Greg rarely needs an introduction amongst these circles and we had the privilege of interviewing him on or podcast a few months ago about his latest venture. Popular in these parts, hackathons are created for educational or social purposes to encourage and create new ideas and actionable solutions. In our case, we were asked to focus first on some of the biggest problems facing the financial services industry and then make recommendations on how to solve them. The key takeaway from the assembled group? We need to do more to recruit and retain talent, and social networking and digital technology should be part of the solution.

This is not the first time this has come up. As a facilitator of multiple customer roundtable events, and as a participant at industry conferences, this has become a recurring theme. However, the appetite to leverage social media as a solution to address this challenge has been gaining ground. I anticipate that as more and more distributed teams have access to social to manage relationships and connections with clients and prospects, the next stage of development will be to use social as a way to recruit and retain talent.

2. Early adopters of social media moving ahead of the competition

It has been nearly five years since FINRA released its guidance on the use of social media by the financial services industry. Organizations that mobilized a social strategy and implemented a solution shortly thereafter are now leading the industry and charging ahead. It’s as if all of us were at the same starting gate of a long race five years ago and today it’s become much easier to identify which organizations are pulling ahead and lapping the competition. I attended two sessions that illustrated the evolving growth of social, the first was a fireside chat between Corina Roy (@corinaroy), Assistant Vice President, Digital and Customer Experience at MassMutual and Abhay Rajaram, VP of Customer Success at Hearsay Social.   The other was a session facilitated by New York Life by Phyllis Tozzi (@phyllistozzi), Corporate VP, Social Media Marketing, Aaron Brickman (@aaron_MMA) and Louis Cardello (@louiswcardello), both Senior Associates, Social Media Marketing. In both sessions the keys to success and their social evolution closely matched the key findings from our own Social Business Maturity Model released last week, namely that organizations that succeed and progress in their maturity typically have a collaborative team to move the social project forward, and the support and buy-in from and senior leadership. There are many other factors that contributed to the evolution of the programs at Mass Mutual and New York Life including the need for constant evaluation and training, course corrections based on feedback, and ongoing communications across all levels of management from the home office to the field and back. What both of these organizations illustrated was that the entire endeavor is a process that will take time and some occasional set backs for it to grow and mature.

3. Want to win? Fight for attention with creativity and authenticity

IMG_8589One of the advantages of attending a conference like this one is the opportunity to hear from outstanding speakers, and this year was no exception. We heard from the likes of Chris Brogan, Clara Shih, Scott Klososky, Debra Jasper, Betsy Hubbard and Julian Aldridge, and many others. The overlying theme of all the presentations was that today’s consumer expects more, and that earning their attention is becoming a bigger and bigger challenge. A challenge that is being met by creativity, and then supported via an authentic voice. People want realness. People want to feel that you care. It reminds me of something we used to say when I worked as a financial advisor, “people don’t care what you know, until they know that you care.” Let that sink in.

At no time was this more evident than during the announcing of the annual Silver Bowl Awards.  As a judge for the second year in a row, I got to review multiple entries across categories and was impressed by the level of creativity and thought that went into the development of multiple campaigns. Even more impressive was how much of the work was driven internally and developed organically without the use of an agency.  

If you’d like to win the award next year, my suggestions is that you get creative and stay authentic. It’s a formula that works and apparently wins awards.

4. Although still an important and critical component of social business, compliance is no longer the main focus

IMG_8602This last observation did not come to me until well after the conclusion of the conference as I was reflecting. Almost as an afterthought, I realized how little talk there was around compliance. I assure you that this was not the case just a few years ago when it seemed it was the only focus. Mind you, this is not to say that compliance doesn’t matter anymore, it does, it’s just not the main conversation anymore. In my opinion, this is a very positive sign that the industry has evolved and we are much further along in embracing social as a business tool embedded in the DNA of our marketing and sales process.

Addressing compliance concerns will continue to be a pre-requisite to any social program, and our continued participation at FINRA events and relationships with the regulatory bodies will ensure we are abreast of how their decisions and guidance affects our customers and their business.

In conclusion, the industry continues to move forward and we are seeing some encouraging and creative approaches that businesses are taking to further their evolution to connect with clients, prospects and recruit new talent.  Knowing that it would be a challenge to encapsulate three days worth of a conference material in a blog post, we released an entire podcast (see below) devoted to exploring the themes of the conference. I encourage you to not only listen to it, but to also be a part of the conversation by sending us your questions, comments and suggestions to OnAir@HearsayCorp.com or via Twitter using hashtag #HSonAir.

If you attended the conference in person, or followed along on the conference hashtag #LLSMC, what did you think?  I’d love to hear from you.

Victor Gaxiola

Head of Customer Advocacy, Marketing

Thought leader, speaker, host of the #HSonAir podcast. Evangelist for digital tech adoption in financial services.

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