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The Future of Social Selling in Financial Services

June 3, 2020

Find out what Hearsay customers are doing now to lay the groundwork for the future of social selling, and where things will be in a few years.

Even as many of today’s advisors and agents are just discovering the power of social selling, marketing leaders at financial services and insurance firms are beginning to plan for its future. And with the recent shift to a mostly virtual world (sparked by the present global pandemic), the move to digital relationship building is no longer optional.

As the field reps who have thus far held out get up to speed, and current adoptees continue to build their brand (and trust), their corporate marketing counterparts are looking at how initiatives taking place today will act as foundation for and unfold as the future of social selling.

Get More Authentic

At the 8th annual – and first ever virtual – Hearsay Summit, Clara Shih put a stake in the ground: The new normal is humanity at digital scale.

The crisis highlighted both the need and client demand for personalized, quick, and multichannel touches with their human advisors. Paulina Dudzinska, manager of social media at The Co-operators, believes that while the industry is now comfortable providing tools and technology for social selling, it is too restrictive around authentic content from advisors.

Dudzinska shared, “Recently, what we’ve done is take a hard look at [whether] we [have] been too rigid around some of the content approaches that we’ve been using. As COVID has introduced more pressure for us, it was about saying, ‘Let’s open up a space with some guardrails around dos and don’ts; let our advisors create more content that is authentic to them.’ And that’s been quite well received.”

Hearsay’s 2020 Social Media Content Study delivers the data to support Dudzinska’s approach. Even prior to COVID, we found that custom, advisor-created social media content receives 10X the engagement of corporate suggested content.

Dudzinska went on with a call to action for the future, “Hearsay has an abundance of capabilities. The question I would pose to my peers in the industry is are we fully using those?

Treat Social as a Two-Way Channel

Kristi Darabin, associate vice president of social media at Nationwide, agrees that authentic, human connection is increasingly important. For Darabin, this goes beyond the content agents post. “The next step for me is how do we show [our field] that a one-way conversation is not how social media is supposed to operate. […] Being able to have that two-way conversation in a social channel is going to be increasingly more important.”

She went on to talk about how her team is trying to develop guidelines and training to encourage their agents to be interactive on social channels outside of just publishing the content. She said, “Giving them the ability to feel comfortable with the right phrasing, the right frequency and the tools to be able to feel like they’re comfortable being an essential community manager is going to be that next step.”

Take Measurement to a New Level

There’s one area where marketers across industries often struggle: metrics. In an industry like financial services which is slightly behind the curve in digital transformation, this struggle can be even more pronounced.

Michelle Smyth, director of retail social media at the Royal Bank of Canada, understands the importance of setting up an organization for continued investment in a social selling program. Currently, her team measures earned media value (EMV). Because their sales force is so metrics driven, they like to see the marketing contribution month over month, year over year. The challenge she encounters is that it’s often difficult to understand the exact role that their social selling program plays in closing deals.

Smyth shared, “I’m really excited for the future of measurement – the more that we can measure and show the impact of local marketing, the more [our advisors and agents] will do [it]. We need to be smarter about how we use that data real time and engage with the salesforce to help them be as successful as they can.”

Dudzinska also sees a need for more refined measurement in the future. She pondered, “Are we thinking about measurement in the way that we should be? I think as we drill into more personalized approaches that will give our advisors more opportunity to create cross-sell opportunities, to really think about the client journey, when and how social media is being used. We’ll have to redefine those metrics.” She also gave voice to what many feel, “It sounds daunting, I’ll be honest. We’ve got something in front of us that will challenge us and will make us think. But equally, coming out of the other side in [a few years], I think we’ll see massive milestones that we’ve been able to make as an industry.”

Conclusion

From authentic, human connection to the metrics that can drive best practices, the future of social selling seems firmly grounded in progress happening today. Aside from the three areas outlined above, we also believe the future of social selling will span digital channels, delivering an integrated and consistent conversation across channels. What do you see for the future of social selling? Let us know @hearsaysystems on Twitter! Use #futureofsocialselling.

Gloria Roheim McRae

Regional Director of Canada - Hearsay Systems

Gloria has built her career at the intersection of financial services & insurance (FSI), digital communications and leadership. Today, she is Regional Director of Canada for Hearsay Systems with specialized skills in leading social business and customer solutions for the FSI sector across North America.

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