In Insurance & Regulated Industries, Social Networks Provide Great Opportunity in 2013
The title of this article is surely confusing to many in the financial services industry that have to date been quite weary of taking the plunge into social media. Although some large companies like Aviva, TD and State Farm, have taken their chances, the small business owner and principals at firms and brokerages dealing in these financial services remain fearful of issues such as breeches in confidentiality, or potential liability in dishing out advice on the social networks.
Beyond this, they fear poor press, and the potential risks of negative comments. The prospect of getting involved in the social scape is a scary one in this industry.
The truth of the matter is, it's bred into us. As professionals who take pride in the knowledge they provide and giving strong financial advice (rooted in personalized service) it is scary to think that this should carry into a public environment. Imagine the liability risks!
The concept is all wrong.
To succeed in social media, social networking and create a valuable and successful online presence for your financial services practice, you don't need to focus on your individualized client advice, what you need to do is simply be social.
What does being social mean for financial services in 2013?
Being social means establishing a guideline of what you seek to accomplish, and respecting that guideline. It should involve giving out general information, non specific to your clients themselves, but rather as generalized commentary on your products, expertise or industry.
Put money back in your pocket by making smart insurance choices.goo.gl/8xjWZ— Mila
We have all seen flyers in the mail, advertisements on TV, and a myriad of other communications from financial services firms, (be it insurance agents, brokers, banks or financial advisors) and what they focus on is not specified advice, but rather the benefit of doing business with them.
Financial Services must focus on relationship building.
The key to success in the online sphere is authenticity. We have all heard this. The opportunity for financial advisors is to establish relationships based on authenticity, based on establishing rapport, and establishing reliability and expertise is huge.
Throw your fears out the door!
The idea of giving specific advice and the fear of breaching confidentiality must be thrown out the door. In order to take on Social Networking and a Social Presence in 2013, firms must commit to establishing firm and clear guidelines that indicate the mission of the online presence will be limited to building reputation and trust. Client confidentiality must be protected, and all regulations must also be carefully respected, the best way to do this is to focus on the things we can do : be social.
The mission must be to build community, to create outreach, to build trust.
We suffer from limited thinking on many fronts, and this fear has hurt the financial services industry for far too long. For 2013, it is time to learn from the examples of firms and individuals who are doing things right, and step into our communities with the goals of becoming contributing members, active participants and the way to do this is not to generate content laden with industry jargon and stiff information, the way to do it is be real, be personal and provide value to the community and your customers. Talk to your community like you are an entertainer, give them something they can use, provide some added value - show your clients why you are different. Being different doesn't stem from rules and regulations - it stems from the work you do above and beyond the basics (basics being the rules and regulations). This is what you need to show.
What Financial Services firms can talk about : How about the Weather?
- The weather. Sounds silly, but in the insurance industry, weather dictates many important risks and a wealth of information to help consumers protect themselves.
- Current events in the City, or Target areas. Why would a financial services firm want to talk about current events? For one, many of these events are often sponsored by firms. Share this information with your population. Use these opportunities to show people how interested your firm is in contributing to the community - not just in selling products!
- Emerging issues. There are always issues that effect our industries. A lot of the the time the talk around the office cooler in your office, could easily make for interesting conversation with your clients! Give them the inside thoughts of what you think upcoming changes might mean for them, and for you. There is not harm is opening dialogue, in fact that's exactly what clients want from you - transparency and dialogue. Not only will you open the door to potential new relationships, but you will also gain insight if your readers comment or give their opinions on current issues. From an insurance perspective, here are a couple of topics I have talked about where I have had good feedback: Winter Tires, Using Cellular phone while driving, saving on vacations, the list can go on - it's a matter of opening your ears and sharing what you hear going on.
- Create relationships in your community with the media, and work with them to be a source for information on emerging stories. You help them by being a reference source, and you establish authority, while at the same time building content for your own activities (example: Youtube).
- Spotlight your employees. Create video ro content like pictures or mini blogs on your employee activites. You want people to know you, highlight the people that make your company "real". Bring the human aspect into your content.
- Crowd source potential topics from your employees, your sales and service staff - the people on the front line. Every time you have a question that comes up repeatedly you should view this as an opportunity to address the answers to the question online. It will not only make it easier to direct existing clients to a building data base of information they need, but it will allow search engines to find you for the topics you are best at explaining!
When it comes to holiday gifts, it’s the thought that counts! When it comes to returning them, it’s these tips. st8.fm/Fv0— State Farm (@StateFarm) December 26, 2012
These are but a few suggestions to get the ideas flowing, have you taken some leaps into this area, what topics do you think could provide good content for you?
Is the door suddenly opening to create new opportunity?
Do not be afraid: Take the leap in 2013.
At the end of the day you are a professional. You know what you can and can not discuss in public. You know the limitations and risks in your field. Trust yourself and start moving in the direction to bring social into your marketing and service mix. There is no time like the present!
Use your resources, get creative and start being a part of the online community. It's time to get involved or you just may be left behind.
What will you do this year?
How will you add value online for your community?
On January 18th, I will be discussing this topic online in a G+ hangout on Sherry Nouraini's show, hope you will join us! (You can follow me on Google Plus to be invited to the hang out as soon as the details are confirmed! Hope to see you there!)
Mila Araujo is a Social Business Strategist, Speaker and Director at a financial services firm in Montreal, Quebec. Mila has a diverse background in management, public relations, non-profit, and events. In her previous roles, Mila organized international conferences on health care, as well as programs to promote health for seniors and children in partnership with the Government of Canada. In ...
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