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Social sales a hot topic at FINRA's 2013 Annual Conference

It was our pleasure this year to attend the FINRA Annual Conference, where social sales and marketing continues to be the buzz. Two sessions specifically dedicated to social media—”Using Social Media Tools (Small Firm Focus)” and “Social Media Considerations”—showed strong attendance.
During one of the sessions, the audience was polled on their social media usage:

  • About 25% of the audience say their firm already allows reps to use social media for business purposes.
  • Most popular social networks for business use continue to be LinkedIn and Twitter, followed by Facebook.
  • Primary reasons for lower usage is worry about proper supervision and resultant damages to the firm’s reputation should things go awry, highlighting the need for compliance policies and tools.

Slide from the “Social Media Tools (Small Firm Focus) session.

Of those firms that do have a social presence, many were hopeful in their experimentation, with 20% saying they were already reaping positive business results.
In a separate session on technology, panelists commented on the importance of the cloud and big data. The ability to leverage elastic infrastructure and to provide rich correlated analytics is the wave of the future. Having a mobile presence is also of utmost importance for any firm to succeed.
FINRA itself is more precisely defining the role of social media to sales and marketing. Not all communications with customers need to be pre-approved, FINRA recognizes, and only static content requires pre-approval. Interactive communications should be monitored for compliance. When a recommendation is being made on a product, then Suitability rule applies.
This is where Hearsay Social can help! We have an enterprise-ready cloud platform that powers social sales and marketing for financial firms, while also addressing compliance concerns. Using our platform, customers have the proper controls in place to pre-approve certain content while monitoring ongoing social activity. Our powerful data platform provides rich reporting and social signals empower sales forces to attract prospects, retain customers, and grow business.
Social media provides a great opportunity for firms to find new business. We have been working with finance and insurance firms for years now and are here to help any company reach their full potential.
The “Social Media Considerations” panel: Amy Sochard (moderator), Director, FINRA Advertising Regulation; Deborah Corej, Specialist Leader, Deloitte & Touche; Alexander C. Gavis, VP and Associate General Counsel, Fidelity Investments; Joseph Price, SVP and Counsel, FINRA Corporate Financing / Advertising Regulation.

The “Using Social Media Tools (Small Firm Focus)” panel, from left to right: John Veator (moderator), Director, FINRA Member Relations; Patricia Bartholomew, Managing Partner, General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer, Craig-Hallum Capital Group LLC; Mitchell Atkins, SVP and Regional Director, FINRA South Region; Hardeep Walia, CEO, Motif Investing, Inc.

5 steps to building a great LinkedIn Company Page

Significantly more than just a recruiting tool, your LinkedIn Company Page is an ideal place to showcase your business, from its products to its people.

With more than 225 million members around the world, LinkedIn is the go-to place for professionals to network online and learn about your company. Before they do business with you, potential customers are researching your company and looking to understand who you are. Today much of this research happens online before engaging with a live company representative. Treat your LinkedIn Company Page like prime real estate to inform these millions of professionals on the latest news from your company, products and services you offer, business opportunities, and job openings.

Here are five easy steps to building and maintaining a great LinkedIn Company Page:

1. Make it complete

Having a complete profile is essential for both individual professionals as well as businesses. Your LinkedIn company page should not only describe what your company does at a high level, but also drill down on specific specialties. LinkedIn lets each company explain in detail their various products and services, so make sure to represent all your company’s different lines of business (if you have them) or different products. For example, an insurance company may take this opportunity to present both its home insurance policies as well as its life insurance policies.

2. Choose a strong cover photo

Today, it’s understood that the key to driving engagement on social networks lies in the effective use of visual content. On LinkedIn, it’s no different. The first thing visitors will see on your company page is the large cover photo, so make sure it looks professional, reflects the attributes of your brand, and gives the visitor a reason to look around some more. In the below example, Thrivent Financial for Lutherans highlights its family-based values and logo, complementing its dedication to providing financial services.

Feel free to update your cover photo periodically to reflect new product launches, expansions, or simply to refresh the look, while always staying true to the brand.

3. Share great content regularly

As always, the glue holding any social network together are its members and the content they share amongst each other (hence the “media” in “social media”). To that end, it’s imperative that businesses share content with their audience from LinkedIn Company Pages. As your customers and prospects increasingly turn to social networks to research your company, the opportunity to present them with relevant news also grows.

Share business updates from your company, but don’t be entirely self-serving. Before posting an update, link, or other media, ask yourself the question, “Would I want to read this story?” Just this brief sanity check will hold you to a high standard when sharing content. In general, share a medley of content that will truly interest your followers, not just ads about how your company is so great.

4. Get employees involved

Your influence depends entirely on your people. The easiest way to expand the reach and engagement on your LinkedIn Company Page is simply to encourage employees of the company to like and share updates from the company with their own networks. Specifically, encouraging employees to share job openings is always a great idea to boost recruiting efforts (and can often be tied to referral bonuses). Additionally, many companies take employee involvement a step further by distributing content directly to employees through a social sales and marketing platform like Hearsay Social.

Another smart tactic to drive even more traffic to your LinkedIn Company Page: if your employees have their own professional websites, have them embed the LinkedIn Follow Company button.

5. Measure results and take action

Regularly reviewing your LinkedIn Company Page insights is crucial to improving your social strategy over time. From “page visitor demographics” like industry and company size to click/view rates, you can gain a solid understanding of who your audience is and what kind of content resonates with them. Knowing this enables you to iterate and steadily increase your reach while also driving further engagement. In the end, it all comes down to following the data.

In addition to supporting individual pages on LinkedIn, Hearsay Social also allows brands to manage their LinkedIn Company Page directly from the same platform. Hearsay Social Brand Solution supports brand marketing teams so they can effectively plan, publish, and measure messages on the LinkedIn Company Page using the same enterprise platform already deployed across their field and compliance teams. Not only does the platform help brand teams manage content published to the LinkedIn Company Page, but Hearsay Social also supports compliance and archiving needs as well.

Check out this SlideShare for even more tips on building a great LinkedIn Company Page:

Thrivent Financial's path from social media compliance to ROI: Lessons from LinkedIn's Financial Services Summit

LEFT TO RIGHT: Knut Olson, SVP, Financial Network, Thrivent Financial for Lutherans; Paul Johnston, VP and Deputy General Counsel, Thrivent Financial; and Hearsay Social COO Michael Lock.

Many financial institutions get started on social media only to manage risk, but with the appropriate policies and processes in place, social networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter can be extremely valuable for sales representatives. Yet many firms still struggle with making the transition from social media compliance to ROI.
At LinkedIn’s Global Financial Services Marketing Summit in New York last week, Hearsay Social COO Michael Lock (@michaelhlock) sat down with representatives from one of Hearsay Social’s customers, Thrivent Financial, to discuss their organization’s social selling success. Thrivent’s Head of Sales, Knut Olson, teamed up with his Head of Compliance, Paul Johnston, to share how they have gone beyond social media compliance to enable their financial advisors to sell socially.
Before using Hearsay Social, Thrivent was tracking social media activity for compliance manually, and it was so time-intensive that they could only allow a small number of field representatives on social. Eventually, however, they had to catch up wih the field.
“Social media is here,” said Paul. “Whether or not we like it from a compliance and legal perspective, our sales reps are going to be using it.” To make compliance manageable, Paul recommended assigning a single team or person to focus on understanding the technology and regulations. “The rules are changing rapidly” said Paul, and the “functionality of social networks is changing rapidly.”
It really helps having a point person to keep an eye on these constant changes. Also, Paul described how important it was to establish expectations cross-functionally, so that everyone remains flexible and can adjust as regulations or technology changes in the future.
Technology for his field sales organization, Knut described, was intended to “accelerate a human process that is already part of the business.” So, in their relationship-based business, social media was a no-brainer. Hearsay Social has Thrivent Financial sales representatives to attract prospects, build stronger relationships with customers, and grow business overall.
You can watch the full session here:

See more from the event:

LEFT TO RIGHT: Knut Olson, Michael Lock, and Paul Johnston.

Reestablishing trust via social media: Hearsay Social keynote panel at LinkedIn's Global Financial Services Summit

The Hearsay Social team was delighted to join LinkedIn and executives from across the financial industry in New York last week to discuss how marketing and sales strategies are evolving due to the seismic shift in online behavior from social media.
The impressive lineup of industry experts discussed everything from the state of the economy to the future of regulation and compliance on social media to an audience of 300 senior marketing and business leaders from around the globe.
Our CEO Clara Shih, who blogs regularly about social enterprise topics on LinkedIn, spoke on a fascinating keynote panel alongside Sallie Krawcheck (@SallieKrawcheck), Past President of Merrill Lynch and Herb Greenberg (@herbgreenberg) of CNBC. In their discussion, moderated by Dan Roth (@danroth), Executive Editor at LinkedIn, they discussed the impact social content on LinkedIn has had on them and their businesses. With some examples from some of the financial services firms Hearsay Social works with, Clara highlighted how social content can help financial advisors become experts in their field. Here is the video recording:

Earlier in the day, Jill Schlesinger (@jillonmoney), Senior Business Analyst at CBS News, gave a talk on the state of the economy, and encouraged organizations to speak to consumers in ‘their’ language: “If you can’t figure out a way to communicate with people in a way that they can take that information in, its useless.” She also highlighted the importance of regulation to consumer protection:

Eileen Loustau, Global Director of Social Media at Blackrock/iShares, highlighted how social media can help organizations ‘humanize’ themselves. Saying, on social media, “try to be a person, not a company.”

A recurring theme throughout the day was how pervasive social media has become across financial services firms. Already, 1 out of every 3 professionals on the planet is on LinkedIn, according to David Hahn, Vice President of Product at LinkedIn. And those numbers are only growing.

Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih and Jennifer Grazel, Global Head of Category Development – Financial Services, LinkedIn

See more from the event: