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How 3 Firms Are Using Social Media Education Programs to Grow Business

shutterstock_130643495One of our goals at Hearsay Social is to arm financial professionals with the tools necessary to succeed in an always-connected world. This includes educating advisors and agents on how to use social media to build their credibility, engage with customers and prospects, and grow their business.
A recent article in Ignites, Financial Times publication, entitled “Anti-Social Shops Failing to Connect with Advisors” states “fund companies that fail to help advisors navigate social media are likely blowing a big opportunity to connect with client assets.” 
The article highlights three leading financial services firms – including Pacific Life, Putnam and Vanguard – who have successfully implemented programs to train and encourage its sales teams to use social media for business. 
In a Practical Perspectives study conducted in December 2015, nearly 90 percent of advisors rely on some type of social media guidance to build their practices’ online presence, but few lean on their home office for education and support. Instead, most (72 percent) do their own research, ask colleagues (37 percent), or rely on broker-dealers and custodians (36 percent).
But, according to the article, there’s a real opportunity for firms to build awareness and differentiate themselves at the advisor level on social media. It describes Pacific Life’s successful social media training initiative:

“The firm made sure its external wholesalers had LinkedIn presences in 2014 and knew how to use the network to connect with advisors. After launching the website in 2015, Pacific Life began holding presentations in branch offices, says Christine Tucker, VP of marketing at the company.

‘We do see it as a growth opportunity for helping advisors and helping our wholesalers differentiate themselves,’ she says.

Advisors have particularly gravitated toward more sophisticated training materials, Tucker says. The site includes pieces on how to prospect for clients by age or limit the visibility of connections on LinkedIn.

The social media education effort started because Pacific Life sought to create a unique value-add offering, one that would help advisors attract more business, Tucker says. The future buyers of mutual funds have been raised on technology, so the medium struck the firm as an ideal way for advisors to connect with them, she says.

‘We wanted to be able to have a different story to tell [in advisor offices],’ she says.”

The article also describes how Putnam Investments provides a multitude of ongoing social media training resources for its sales team:

At Putnam, everyone across the retail sales team is well versed in how to use social media to build business, says Jayme Lacour, director of social media at the Boston-based firm. That includes internals giving presentations over the Web and externals presenting ideas to advisors at the branch level and one-on-one, as well as the firm’s sales and marketing leaders speaking on panels. ‘It’s an expectation of our sales team from the top to the bottom,’ he says.

The firm offers a full range of presentations that cater to social media neophytes and experts alike. Putnam reps cover everything from creating a profile to using Boolean search terms to find potential clients on LinkedIn, Lacour says. …

A few years ago, Putnam rolled out a dedicated website, called Advisor Tech Tips, that includes social media pointers.

Building relationships with advisors through social media has been a major focus at Putnam, says Mark McKenna, head of global marketing. ‘This is really what we do hands-on with advisors,’ he says. For instance, the firm recently brought about 30 advisors into its offices for a full day of training, which also included professional head shots taken in Putnam’s studio, he says.”

Vanguard also is included in the story as a leader in providing social media education and support for its field force; the article says the firm recently added a section to its website offering tips for how advisors should use social media.
Log in to read the full Ignites article.
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Social Business Adoption – Step 6: Have a Strong Content Strategy and Pipeline

shutterstock_338921585This post is the last and final installment of Hearsay Social’s Six-Step Program to Boost Social Business Adoption across the enterprise.
Advisors are often pressed for time to deal with matters of productivity and figuring out what to post on social media. Moreover, it can be downright daunting for many advisors to try to figure out how to balance their personal lives with their professional lives on social media. And According to a LIMRA study, one of the most common impediments to social media adoption are a shortage of content and slow review processes of the content.
Here are 6 tips for building and maintaining a robust content library to ensure your advisors have something worthy and relevant to share on social media:

  1. Follow the “80/20” rule: One way to boost your content efforts is to follow an “80/20” rule. The rule simply comes down to this: 80% of your social media content should be non-financial and non-promotional in nature; 20% can be financially focused content that arms your advisors with valuable information that they can share with clients and prospects.
  2. Create custom content tags within the Content Library for easy searching.
  3. Leverage Hearsay Social’s Curated Content Channels to find ready-to-share compliant content.
  4. Utilize RSS feeds for accessing and curating content to upload into the library.
  5. Help advisors save time and increase productivity by highlighting easy-to-use Hearsay Social functionality, such as Hearsay Social Mobile and iPad Apps.
  6. Leverage Hearsay Social for Facebook Ads or Promoted Posts to enable advisors to take content they’ve published and broaden their distribution through Facebook ads, amplifying their visibility and increasing engagement. 

For more success insights on how to educate the field and arm them for success, as well as Hearsay Social’s entire six-step framework for social business adoption across the enterprise, get our new, free Social Business Adoption Guide. 
View all six steps in our Social Business Adoption guide infographic.

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Social Business Adoption – Step 5: Four Ways to Amp Up the (Friendly) Competition

shutterstock_174735368This blog post is step five of Hearsay Social’s Six-Step Program to Boost Social Business Adoption across the enterprise. Check back next week for the last step, step six.

One great way to increase participation in your firm’s social business program is to take advantage of the natural competitiveness inherent in your best performers and salespeople. Get this key group of stakeholders excited and, in turn, encourage the wider field to get involved by stoking some friendly competition.
Use tried-and-true gamification techniques such as scorecards, badges and leaderboards to keep track of behaviors that the social business program has been set up to measure and grow. These metrics might include the number of times advisors or agents log into their company’s social media management platform, the number of content pieces they publish, or by how much their networks grow over a certain period of time.
Here are ideas to step up your gamification game:

  1. Offer a reward tied to a key program success metric. For example, one company gave out a prize – Super Bowl tickets – to the regional sales manager with the highest percent increase in usage of the social business technology platform.
  2. Make it fun, engaging and easy. Run the idea by a few members of your target audience before rolling the game out broadly, to ensure it will appeal to the largest subset of users possible. Remember, though, that not every single salesperson will want to participate. But for those who do, it’s important to keep the excitement going throughout the contest period.
  3. Create, publish and share a leaderboard, scorecard or another method to keep track of those who are at the top of their game – literally. This helps jump-start competition, highlight the most active participants and attract people who are not already in the program.
  4. Run a “30 days of social” campaign to bring additional visibility to the program.

adoption-guideFor more success insights on how to educate the field and arm them for success, as well as Hearsay Social’s entire six-step framework for social business adoption across the enterprise, get our new, free Social Business Adoption Guide now.
To learn more about Hearsay Social’s training options, contact your sales representative or customer success manager.
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Social Business Adoption: Step 2 – Five Ways to Advocate Your Program at the Field Level

shutterstock_221265520This is step two of Hearsay Social’s six-step program to boost social business adoption across the enterprise. Read step one, “Secure, Maintain Executive Sponsorship and Championship,” and check back next week for step three.
A big challenge for large firms that might have multiple organizational levels and hundreds – if not thousands – of employees and representatives is successfully implementing a company-wide initiative. Rolling out a social business program is no exception, and in many cases it requires program owners to be on the ground at field offices, training (and re-training) field reps on how to effectively leverage social media and properly use the tools and technology that the corporate office provides. At the end of the day, the more that field reps know about the initiative’s benefits to their own jobs and the resources available to them, the more empowered they will be to drive their own success – and ultimately, the company’s growth.
Here are five ideas for corporate program owners and managers to help get their field teams more involved in a social business initiative:

  1. Go door to door. Seek out opportunities to communicate the value of social business with your advisor field teams.
  2. Fill adoption gaps. Determine the specific reasons why advisors aren’t leveraging the program and help get them over the hurdle. For example, if you find that many of your advisors or agents aren’t accessing the technology made available to them to compliantly use social media for business, set up an information session or drop-in “office hours” to teach them how to get started – or do it for them!
  3. Lead by example. Identify advisors that are excelling at social business and ask them to participate in training, curriculum, support help and building momentum for others.
  4. Train by region. Incorporate social media metrics into monthly branch sales reviews.
  5. Appoint a local point person. For each region or local office, name someone that others can reach out to with questions, feedback or support.

adoption-guideWant to learn five more creative ways to motivate advisors, agents and field reps to participate in a social business program, as well as Hearsay Social’s entire six-step framework for social business adoption across the enterprise? Get our new, free Social Business Adoption Guide now.
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Social Business Adoption: Step 1 – Secure, Maintain Executive Sponsorship and Championship

shutterstock_229999303This is step one of Hearsay Social’s six-step program to boost social business adoption across the enterprise. Check back next week for step two.
Executive buy-in is a critical first step along a firm’s path to increasing social business adoption. A recent assessment conducted by Hearsay Social of more than 100 financial services firms on their social business maturity found that those with executive buy-in – which may include the company’s CEO, CMO and/or head of digital, marketing, sales, compliance or IT – have an average of 13 percent higher maturity versus those without.
Here are five tips on how to encourage executive sponsors to lead by example:

  1. If they don’t already have one, help them build out a professional profile on LinkedIn, Twitter and/or Facebook.
  2. Empower them to produce content. Audiences are especially interested in what executive leaders have to say. They could start writing and posting on topics they are thought leaders in or are passionate about. If that’s not an option, designate someone to learn their voice and write on their behalf.
  3. If the executive sponsor is already producing content on the company blog or elsewhere, expand the reach of the content by promoting it via the company’s social media channels and to the field.
  4. Encourage the executive sponsor to follow on social media other execs that they know and/or admire.
  5. Show the executive sponsor how to listen for opportunities on social media for two-way dialogue with his or her fans and followers.

adoption-guideWant to get more details on Hearsay Social’s entire six-step framework and how real firms have successfully implemented a social business program? Get our new, free Social Business Adoption Guide now.
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6 Ways to Increase Social Business Adoption

shutterstock_272711567According to a recent Putnam study of 800 financial advisors, nearly 80% of respondents gained new clients using social media. For this reason, among many others, it’s important that financial services companies have a solid social media program in place. In fact, companies with a dedicated team and social business program have a significantly better chance at social business success–which is critical for advisors who want to keep up with today’s social, mobile customer.

Fortunately, we have spent a lot of time and energy uncovering key insights and recommendations after working with hundreds of customers to help drive social business success. As such, here are six best practices your business should be following:

1. Secure and maintain executive sponsorship and championship

Getting executive sponsors involved early and often is an important first step to increasing social business adoption. Executive sponsors lead by example, increase program visibility and help clear any roadblocks. Executive champions, i.e. those who are personally active on social media, empower employees to do the same.

2. Provide ample training and educational resources

The success of your social business program depends on your employees actually using the social business platform.  By providing ample learning opportunities and resources on how to best use the platform, you increase your chances of social business success over time.

3. Zealously advocate the program at the field level

In many companies, there’s often a disconnect between what’s happening at the corporate level versus what’s taking place in the field. To help bridge this gap, you may need to go door-to-door to field offices to create awareness of the social business program, as well as provide training on how to best use the platform.

4. Promote and enable advisor success stories

Peer-to-peer evangelism is a great way to increase adoption by sharing success stories from people who have already found value and tangible ROI. These “social media superstars” become the champions of your social business program and act as a catalyst within their teams to motivate others to apply the technology.

5. Use gamification

Salespeople are naturally competitive, so why tap into this natural tendency by allowing them to engage in some friendly competition? For example, you can use leaderboards, “badges”, and the like to motivate teams by offering a reward tied to a key metric of success.

6. Create and maintain a strong content strategy and pipeline

Help your users establish credibility by providing useful suggested content on a regular basis, while giving them the flexibility to let their personalities shine. Given that advisors are often pressed for time, maintaining a strong content pipeline can help with productivity and lead to greater program adoption.
adoption-guideFor more information on how to implement social business adoption strategies within your own organization, download the free Hearsay Social Adoption Guide.
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Introducing Social Business Training for Advisors

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 4.33.49 AMA Google search for “social media best practices” results in more than 100 million pages. For a financial services advisor or agent who wants to leverage social media the right way to build relationships with clients and prospects, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
Today, we’re excited to announce the launch of our new Social Business Training offering, available now to Hearsay Social customers. Developed specifically for financial advisors and insurance agents, Social Business Training provides an interactive e-learning platform for advisors to gain practical knowledge on how to create a social media plan and grow their business.
“Social media and digital technologies are transforming the way advisors and agents are doing business,” said Abhay Rajaram, vice president of global customer success at Hearsay Social, in a press statement. “While it is clear these new technologies have incredible potential, they can often overwhelm advisors who are looking for a simple, structured way to get started. Social Business Training cuts through the information overload and helps advisors create a social media business plan that they can act on right away.”
The coursework, which is self-directed so advisors can learn at their own pace, covers the basics – including how to build a social media profile, gain credibility and grow a network – and progresses toward more advanced topics, such as identifying key metrics and complementing organic efforts with paid advertising. Each course features interactive elements including video, audio, text, knowledge checks, activities, a reference library and more.
At the firm level, administrators can monitor and report on the success of their training and education program via insights such as who has started and advanced through the courses.
For additional details on our new Social Business Training offering, including more details on the courses, read our press release.
Interested Hearsay Social customers should contact their Hearsay Social representative directly to learn more about Social Business Training and to sign up.