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New Facebook Advertising Solution Enables Corporate Marketers to Harness Proven Effectiveness of Local Ads

HSS-Corporate-to-Local-AdvertisingI’m excited to announce that Hearsay Social’s newest feature, Corporate-to-local Advertising for Facebook, launched today. Built from the ground up, this new functionality will help make Facebook advertising so much more easier and effective for our customers.
Here at Hearsay Social, we pride ourselves on our laser focus to help our enterprise customers leverage social and digital to drive business at the field level. And the value and power of hyper-targeted, local Facebook advertising has become increasingly clear. Consumers want to hear from and learn about businesses that aren’t just relevant to them, but are also accessible so that when they’re ready to buy, the experience is easy, local and convenient. This consumer buying journey is especially relevant to financial services, since ultimately an advisor’s or agent’s business is built on highly personal – and usually local – relationships.
Given that so many consumers are spending time on social media, networks like Facebook present a huge opportunity for advisors and agents to attract new local prospects, which is crucial to their business. But they don’t always have the time, trust, budget or know-how to capture those prospects using online advertising.
But corporate marketing teams at the firm level do have the expertise and budget for building and delivering great ad campaigns. What if organizations could use their existing advertising account and apply their marketing knowledge and budget to drive prospects directly to their local advisor or agent websites?
Our new Corporate-to-local Advertising feature does just that. It enables central marketing teams to leverage their marketing expertise to create, manage and optimize individualized Facebook ads for their field force … at scale. With just a few clicks, they can generate thousands of ads, each personalized with each advisor’s name, location and more, so that they have more in-market relevance while minimizing competitive bidding that can occur among advisors. Corporate marketers have the ability to centrally manage ad budgets while gaining full visibility into and access to manage local advertising campaigns – so that their advisors and agents can spend more time doing what they do best: servicing their clients.
To that end, I’m thrilled to share that American National, a leading insurance firm founded in 1905 with regional presences in all 50 states, has already seen impressive results from their Corporate-to-local Advertising program through Hearsay Social. The company has experienced 2,658 percent more traffic to their representatives’ local websites at a cost-per-click that’s 58 percent less than past Facebook advertising efforts that didn’t utilize Hearsay Social’s technology. Read more here.
This solution would not be what it is without the ongoing support and encouragement from our customers, many who have been with us from the very beginning of the initiative to help test, refine and pilot the technology and overall program – thank you!
Along with the rest of the Hearsay Social team, I look forward to adding new Corporate-to-local Advertising features and efficiencies, as well as expanding it to new social media platforms. Look out for more news in the coming months!
For more information, check out our press release.

Expressing Empathy Through Reactions and What It Means For Financial Services Firms

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Since 2009, we’ve been able to Like content on Facebook, making it easy for us to express a virtual “thumbs up” to our friends’ baby announcements, big moves to new cities and wedding photos. But a Like doesn’t fit certain status updates or news articles. In the past, when a friend shared that a loved one had died, I’ve vacillated between hitting the “thumbs up” or saying nothing at all.
It didn’t feel quite right to Like that type of post. But I still wanted to express something.
Others have felt the same way. According to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, people have been asking for a Dislike button for years. But what they really wanted was the ability to “express empathy,” he said in an a Q&A at Facebook last September. So, his team worked on a way to make the “thumbs up” more expressive. On Wednesday, Facebook rolled out Reactions, an extension of the Like button, to give users more ways to share their reactions to a post in a quick and simple way. Now you can hold down the Like button on mobile or hover over the LIke button on desktop to express how a post, photo or article makes you feel by tapping Like, Love, Haha, Wow, Sad, or Angry.

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My friend’s nonprofit was accepted to Y Combinator – I Love this!

Facebook has become a place to share news about life’s highs and lows. Being able to express our excitement at a friend’s new job post or our mourning over the loss of a loved one gives us a more empathetic experience on Facebook.
Reactions also show us how others are engaging with our own posts on the social network. For financial advisors and insurance agents, this new feature could prove to be a more nuanced way to assess how prospects and clients are engaging with content on Facebook.
So, how does this apply to financial services?
Any time new functionality is introduced by social networks, firms need to look at this functionality from a compliance standpoint.
If your policy is to prohibit advisors and agents from using the Like button on Facebook, you may consider applying the same policy to Reactions. You may also consider that some firms adhere to the 2012 SEC Risk Alert which states that interpretation of a Like as a testimonial is based on the facts and circumstances surrounding the type of post or piece of content.
As always, you should consult your firm’s policies and talk with your compliance team about the application, if any, of these or any laws or regulations restricting advertisements and other communications with the public to your business.
Disclaimer: The material available on this blog is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. We make no guarantees on the accuracy of the information provided herein.

#HSonAir Podcast: Highlights from the Boosting Your Financial Marketing with Facebook Promoted Post Webinar

In episode 49, we replay the highlights of the “Boosting Your Financial Marketing Efforts Using Facebook Promoted Posts” Webinar from June 11, 2015.
In the webinar, Thrivent Financial’s Marketing Experts, Kyle Marie Woods (@kylemarie) and Quinn Gorski (@qgorski), and Facebook’s US Industry Lead, Brad Auerbach share how to use Facebook promoted posts to increase engagement and amplify reach with real examples from the field.
For more information on the webinar visit our blog post with the embedded replay of the entire webinar.
Join the conversation with @victorgaxiola and @elizelig on Twitter, use hashtag #HSonAir. If you have a question, comment or suggestion please send us an e-mail to OnAir@HearsayCorp.com. Like our page on Facebook and follow the progress of our good friend Ronny Kerr or follow on Twitter using hashtag #RonnyWalk

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The Rise of a Vertically Integrated Media Company — a Facebook f8 Recap

IMG_4442 (1)Last week, I had an epiphany at Facebook’s annual f8 conference, which brought together the tech developer community to talk about how to build better apps and businesses across all platforms and devices. I saw the rise of a totally vertically integrated media company where content, communications, commerce, audience and advertising were all neatly wrapped up with a bow on a single platform called Facebook.
My biggest “aha” moment came from watching Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg speak about the evolution of sharing. You see, in the early days it was all about text. Then it moved on to images (hence the acquisition of Instagram), and now video, with Facebook rolling out a series of new video experiences for users, video producers, and brands.
What’s more, I gathered that sharing will evolve to virtual reality experiences in the very near future (think Occulus and the strong suggestion that virtual reality and artificial intelligence will soon play a huge role in everyone’s lives).
Amazing to me was that this evolution wasn’t about the most life-like way to share a cat video or what you had for breakfast, it was about sharing and broadcasting content at large. In other words, content in any format can now be targeted at exactly the right audience at the moment they are most receptive to it.
Not only is Facebook a platform where you can browse for content and rely on serendipity to discover where content is recommended to you by your friends who know you best, it is a place where content can find you based on your stated interests.
For the everyday consumer, that content could be the mundane (cat video) or it could be the profound, as in the example Zuckerberg gave of sharing moments of a trip to Venice.
Venice photo timelineMedia companies and brands — which are rapidly becoming the same thing (but that’s another discussion) — can use these same immersive, targeted experiences to tell stories and provide information to their audiences.
The sophisticated targeting on Facebook means you can aim both content and advertising to exactly the right audience. Want to target a piece of content to 35-45 years olds? No problem. Within that content, do you want to target advertising only to females 35-45 years old? Facebook has you covered. No wasted ad-spend here.
Presentation after presentation demonstrated that Facebook is one of the premiere platforms to share any sort of content, be it personal, professional or corporate.
Moreover, the phrase “If content isn’t spread, it’s dead” has never rang so true. As a brand, agent or advisor, if you have amazing content that isn’t shared by your audience to their audiences, it isn’t making any more sound than the proverbial tree falling in the forest when no one is present.
All in all, through its reach, targeting capabilities, and both organic and paid distribution options, Facebook is ensuring that content producers, be they cat and breakfast enthusiasts, brand or agents, or Pulitzer prize winning publications, can locate, zero-in on, and engage exactly the right audience at exactly the right time.
Ron Piovesan is VP of Strategic Alliances at Hearsay Social and a frequent contributor to the Blog. 
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Research: Financial advisors improve client retention and increase AUM with digital and social tools

Digital Wealth Management researchAt Hearsay Social, one of the most frequent questions we hear from the financial services industry is this: “What is the ROI of social media?”
Depending on who you ask, there are a few answers. What we’ve seen is that social media ROI is largely qualitative, with a social media presence alone resulting in new business or better relationships with existing clients. Additionally, the ROI for each firm will depend on the goals associated with that firm’s particular social strategy. For many firms, the first measure was growth, connectivity, and having a compliant social presence with little to no infractions.
Beyond that, however, we’ve heard countless anecdotes directly from financial advisors attributing increased business to their use of social media. Backing up these anecdotes, Accenture recently published a report entitled Reimagining Wealth Management for the Digital Age, which explores not only how digital technologies and social media are changing the wealth management industry, but also what results have been seen.
Here are a few of the best results:

  • Over half of financial advisors have found and/or converted clients via digital channels
  • 77% of financial advisors have improved client retention via digital/social tools
  • 74% of financial advisors have increased assets under management (AUM) via digital/social tools

Besides these and other eye-opening statistics, Accenture’s 20-page report analyzes how digital technologies and the new “digital generation” have disrupted traditional ways of doing business in the wealth management industry. Near the report’s conclusion, the consulting firm offers three essential components that will help financial firms, advisors, and their clients find success in the new digital era:

  1. Empowerment: of both client and advisor, building trust by making clients better informed
  2. Engagement: to enable a more collaborative relationship between client and advisor
  3. Agility: of both mindset and business model, to adjust rapidly to the speed of change

To learn more, download the full Accenture report here.
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On Facebook, high-quality, engaging content is more important than ever

FacebookIn order to ensure people are always seeing highly relevant content, Facebook® recently announced that fewer overly promotional posts will appear in people’s News Feeds beginning in 2015.
As people connect with more friends and Like more business Pages, News Feed is becoming increasingly crowded. Overly promotional posts in News Feed add little value compared to other more relevant posts, so Facebook, after conducting a widespread survey, listened to people’s feedback and addressed this in their recent announcement.
As we’ve highlighted with other evolutions of the News Feed, high-quality, highly engaging organic content will continue to be featured. So for financial services professionals, if your posts are getting a lot of Likes and comments, Facebook will continue to feature them in News Feed; good content that informs, entertains and makes people think will win.
What does Facebook define as “overly promotional?” This will include posts that strictly sell and make no attempt to engage, such as:

  1. Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app
  2. Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
  3. Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads

High-quality organic posts will continue to appear in News Feed. In addition, with Hearsay Social’s new promotional posts feature, financial services professionals can also use ad dollars that were previously wasted on low yield ads like billboards and instead invest them in higher yield Promotional Posts to get even greater reach.
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Facebook® is a registered trademark of Facebook Inc.

Advisor use of social media matures, regulatory requirements are still a challenge: Recap from #SIFMAsocial

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Last week we attended the sold out SIFMA Social Media Seminar in New York City, a one-day event in the heart of Wall Street that brings together experts from a variety of business roles including marketing, business, compliance, and legal, as well as financial advisors, to discuss the expanding use of social media for financial services.

Major themes from the conference included:

  • The financial services industry has greatly advanced its use of social media in recent years, but there is still a lot of opportunity for social media to impact the business.

  • Interpreting regulatory and compliance requirements continues to be a challenge for firms and financial professionals.

  • Social media can be a truly valuable tool for advisors and branches to build their business, especially if they leverage it to expand their client base in a target niche.

Michael Lock (President & COO at Hearsay Social, @michaelhlock) kicked off the seminar with a lively perspective on technology trends and how consumer expectations are changing. In his session, Michael shared some ways in which financial professionals are using social media to build customer relationships. Harking back to a lesson familiar for every good salesperson, he reminded us that social media is about listening first. OnWallStreet author Andrew Welsch (@AndrewWelsch) published a great recap of Michael’s session here.

Here are more key takeaways from the event:

Updates from the social networks

The next session was a panel moderated by Mike White (CMO at Raymond James, @MikeRJF) with financial services industry leaders from LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Mike set the stage with learnings from a roundtable conversation that a group of SIFMA members had shared the day before: “We’ve come a long way over the past few years, but there is still a lot of opportunity,” he said, however, noting “the importance of not looking to social media as a standalone panacea. […] The most successful advisors and firms are looking at it as a piece of an overall marketing program.”

The following conversations from the respective social networks followed these same themes. Some of their insights included:

  • Brad Murphy (Client Partner, Financial Services Vertical at Facebook) described how the Facebook platform has evolved over the past 18 months. Although many business owners have seen a decrease in the organic reach of their pages, Facebook has greatly expanded its targeting ability with its evolving advertising program. Brad specifically referenced new data partnerships, such as with Acxiom, that help financial professionals reach exactly the audience they’re targeting.

  • Jennifer Grazel (Head of Category Development, Financial Services at LinkedIn, @jgrazel) provided insight into the core pillars of focus for LinkedIn: “identity, network and knowledge.” She also explained how the network’s continued push into content publishing and sharing is intended to support the “knowledge” pillar. In addition, she said that LinkedIn’s acquisition of Bizo will support the company’s plans to enable marketers to run nurture programs.

  • Michael Wong (Head of Financial Services at Twitter, @mw145) said that when it comes to content, timing and quality is more important than frequency and volume, citing Vanguard and Motley Fool as two organizations that excel at sharing good content during volatile times. He also predicted that, going forward, the focus will be on developing a mobile experience for end users as well as better analytics to measure effectiveness of campaigns and activity.

Static vs. dynamic content and other regulatory requirements

In the second panel, “Navigating The Web of Social Media Regulation,” Rick Apicella (Morgan Stanley Wealth Management), Thomas Selman (FINRA), Doug Preston (Bank of America Merrill Lynch), and Melissa Callison (Charles Scwhab) discussed the regulatory requirements that govern social media use.

Selman, who is responsible for advertising policy at FINRA, summarized how the regulatory authority thought about social media. They “took a principles-based view of social media,” he said, in order to write regulation that would not have to be changed every time the technology changed. And they “tried to leverage existing rules and terminology” wherever possible instead of introducing new terms. This approach lead to FINRA Regulatory Notices 10-06 and 11-39, which directly address social media.

Supervision and review requirements for social media address two key content categories: “static” content and “dynamic” content. FINRA requires that all static content be pre-reviewed before it is published, and therefore what is categorized as dynamic or static is often a hot topic in conversation amongst legal and compliance professionals.

At this event, Thomas Selman notably commented that “a case can be made for why a tweet is considered dynamic content.” Somebody from the audience even asked him to repeat this because this opinion was in contrast to other interpretations of the regulation that we’ve heard.

“Content is king, and context is queen”

After spending the first half of the day discussing mostly advisor use of social media, the panel “Social Media Strategy & Use at the Corporate Level” specifically zeroed in on corporate and brand use of social media.

Ruth Papazian (HD Vest Financial Services) moderated a discussion with Joe Corriero (Bank of America Merrill Lynch), Kraleigh Woodford (UBS Wealth Management Americas), Jon Pauley (Ameriprise Financial), and Melissa Socci (LPL Financial). This conversation kept coming back to the importance of content, with each team member describing how their respective organization sources, develops and distributes content.

It was especially interesting to hear how firms of different sizes deal with the challenges of creating social content. Joe Corriero, for example, said that Bank of America Merrill Lynch created a “social media newsroom,” which is a regular meeting bringing together all the disciplines (including research, marketing, legal and compliance) to brainstorm and plan their content timelines. And sometimes internal teams aren’t enough. For example, Melissa Socci explained that they occasionally turn to contractors to create additional content pieces like infographics for social media because their traditional, print-first content team doesn’t have quite the right skillset for that. With a much leaner team, Ruth Papazian and her team rely upon the integration of Trapit and Hearsay Social to curate a regular stream of social media content.

Kraleigh Woodford from UBS Wealth Management Americas pointed out that, in additional to the common adage “content is king,” “context is queen.” Kraliegh argued that “it’s the ‘why do I care’ factor” that leads to successful social content. Companies don’t have a shortage of content but they have to be thinking about what people want to consume through social media; feeding them the wrong content, like “linking to a 60-page report,” might not be the be the most effective strategy.

When it comes to a corporate presence and approach to social media in financial services, Melissa Socci said it best: “We are not social media marketing, we are marketing in a social media age.”

Social media strategies for financial advisors and client communication

In the second panel moderated by Mike White (CMO at Raymond James, @MikeRJF), five financial advisors representing Raymond James Financial, Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network, Ameriprise Financial, LPL Financial, and Robert W. Baird & Co. shared some of their most successful social media strategies for enhancing communication with clients and prospects.

One theme that stood out? Each of the panelists has found success using social media a little bit differently–depending on their target clients, location, and team structure.

Evan Shear (Branch Manager with Raymond James Financial) uses social media to stay up with what is happening in the lives of his client. One anecdote he shared: he saw via social media that his client had lost a family pet, and so he sent a thoughtful sympathy card and gift. Fueled by what he learns through social media, according to Evan, this type of activity strengthens client relationships and builds deep client loyalty.

Charles Camilleri (Financial Advisor with Ameriprise Financial Services) uses social media to stay top of mind and to get the word out to his extended network that he is a financial advisor. Within a week of using social media for business, Charles got a new client referral from a friend of a friend, simply due to the fact that they learned Camilleri’s profession after connecting on LinkedIn.

In addition to the financial advisors on the panel, Dan Swift (Director of Financial Services at LinkedIn, (@danjswift) shared insights into social selling and some of the exciting functionality that LinkedIn Sales Solution provides to help financial professionals. Dan described how LinkedIn Sales Navigator solves for the “now what?” feeling that often accompanies users who are new to social media. He recently spent three months on the road training 160 advisors on social selling with LinkedIn, and they saw some amazing success. Within that same time period, a subset of those financial professionals won over $100 million in new investable assets–impressive ROI for a program that was just getting started!

With the various success stories that can be correlated to a social presence, we think financial professionals would do well to take advice from one other participant on the panel, Jamie Cox (LPL Financial): “You don’t have time to not be on social media.” We would agree.

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At Fortune's Most Powerful Women Summit: Leaders optimistic about fixing tech industry's gender disparity

Fortune last week hosted its annual Most Powerful Women Summit in Laguna Niguel, CA, bringing together leaders across various industries for three days of interviews, panels, and candid conversations about both the evolving business world as well as the influence and role of women in that evolution.

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Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg on stage with Michal Lev-Ram, senior writer at Fortune. Photo courtesy of Fortune.

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Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih interviewed by CNBC live at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit.

Attendees at the event included executives, entrepreneurs, and innovators from across the spectrum, including Warren Buffett (Chairman and CEO, Berkshire Hathaway), Gary Cohn (President and COO, Goldman Sachs), Mary Callahan Erdoes (CEO, J.P. Morgan Asset Management), Mary Meeker (Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers), Sheryl Sandberg (COO, Facebook), and Debra Sterling (Founder and CEO, GoldieBlox).
The agenda was packed with a wide-ranging set of sessions. On Monday afternoon, attendees heard about how (and how much) leaders should connect on social media. On Tuesday, another discussion addressed the challenges and solutions in motivating and inspiring workers across different generations. The last day featured special talks on philanthropy and entrepreneurship.


One core topic discussed by attendees was that of gender inequality, which still pervades executive and management teams across the Fortune 500 as well as greener sectors, like the technology industry.
Seeking to unpack this very issue, CNBC interviewed several women leaders closely involved in technology, including Rebecca Rhoads (chief information officer at Raytheon), Sonja Hoel Perkins (managing director of Menlo Ventures and founder of Broadway Angels), and our very own Clara Shih (CEO and Founder, Hearsay Social).
In the interview, Clara explains how she is hoping to impact change at Hearsay Social: “We specifically try to recruit women and we are open-minded about women who may not have a programming background.”
Clara also shared her broader perspective that a key way of nurturing a more diverse tech workforce is by making sure girls are confident in their technical skills from a young age. This helps set the stage for later in their lives, so they can be confident when faced with more male-dominated fields, like science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
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Congratulations to the 2014 LIMRA LOMA Silver Bowl for Social Media award winners!

It’s hard to believe a whole month has passed since we joined customers, partners, and friends at the 2014 LIMRA LOMA Social Media Conference for Financial Services in Boston. 
Before more time passes, we want to take a moment to congratulate the handful of financial firms recognized in the Social Media Silver Bowl Awards, an annual contest recognizing innovation and business success across firms’ and agents’ use of social media campaigns and programs.

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As James Kerley, chief membership officer for LIMRA and LOMA, explains: “LIMRA research shows that 93 percent of life insurance companies now have social media programs in place. With broad adoption like this, now the question becomes how to define social media excellence in financial services. That’s why we created the Silver Bowl awards.”
The quantity and quality of Silver Bowl Award entries this year demonstrated how quickly the financial services industry has innovated in its use of social media. And with over 90,000 financial professionals using Hearsay Social today, it’s clear that firms are moving their social media programs from being optional to now being a critical way to engage clients in a compliant manner. 
Without further ado, here were the winners:

  • John Hancock Financial Services — “Best Use of Twitter” and “Best of the Best”
  • Transamerica — “Best Use of Other Social Network”
  • Sun Life Financial Asia — “Best Use of Facebook”
  • Popular Bank (Puerto Rico) — “Best Use of Social Media for Social Good”
  • Guardian Life Insurance — “Best Use of LinkedIn”
  • Prudential — “Best Use of YouTube”
  • Thrivent Financial Agent Natalie Kratzer — “Best Use of Social Media by an Agent/Advisor.”


Find out how each of these firms won their awards on the LIMRA website and learn more about social business for financial services below:
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Celebrating technical women at Facebook's Tech Women's Day #TWD

What an honor and pleasure it was to address the female software engineers, product managers, designers, and engineering management at Facebook’s fourth annual Tech Women’s Day earlier this week.
It was a walk down memory lane for both my co-panelists Diane Greene (founder and former CEO of VMware) and Leah Busque (founder and CEO of TaskRabbit, @labusque) and myself, as we shared our personal journeys through covert and overt discrimination, learning how to be heard, impostor syndrome, finding mentors and role models, and building community.

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I joined VMWare founder and former CEO Diane Greene and TaskRabbit founder and CEO Leah Busque for the “Tech Luminary Panel.”


Above, a a fireside chat with Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook, @sherylsandberg).
Below, we got #TWD hoodies & hair ties! #bestswagever.

At Hearsay Social, we are excited to welcome an engineering intern class of 60% women this year and will be hosting our own Afternoon Tea with Hearsay Social Women Engineers next month.

Seeing so many bright, talented, and passionate women emerging in the tech world gives me great hope and optimism regarding the future — I am excited and grateful to be part of the movement.

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