In our ongoing “Questions from the Client” series, we dig into our grab bag of client queries to answer a question that current and potential SocialToaster clients have asked us. Today’s Question: I’ve seen your posts on how advocacy marketing can increase hotel bookings and benefit real estate developers. I want to know, can advocacy marketing benefit a business in marketing financial services? We have a lot of regulations and I’m not sure if advocacy marketing is right for us.
Yes, even with rigid regulations, advocacy marketing can absolutely have major benefits – for your company, your brand image, and your employees – in the financial services industry.
We wrote this blog post back in 2018! Wow, what simpler times. And, while a lot has changed, one thing remains constant – financial institutions can STILL use advocacy marketing to grow and support their brand.
In fact, we have an upcoming webinar that will focus specifically on this target. Not just how financial institutions can use advocacy marketing, but how they can ensure they stay compliant at the same time.
You can sign up for our webinar here.
From a marketing perspective, the finance industry is certainly one of the most regulated out there. Between the SEC, FIDC, and the new GDPR, navigating the financial marketing do’s and don’t’s can be a tricky proposition for even the most stalwart financial brands. Don’t be intimidated by all that red tape.
Despite the strict regulations regarding what they can and cannot share, financial institutions can still reap the benefits of advocacy marketing, including increased content visibility and engagement, boosted brand awareness, deeper client relationships, amongst others; however, for the financial services sector, we recommend utilizing a specific subset of advocacy marketing – employee advocacy – as your advocacy marketing program of choice.
What is Employee Advocacy?
Employee advocacy isn’t anything new. Even before the internet, employees would advocate on behalf of their employers. However, thanks to the rise of social media, employees now have a larger platform and audience to share their opinion. An employee advocacy program is simply the formalization of a process for empowering your employees to share your branded content on a regular basis. Through an employee advocacy program, your employees can share company-approved messages and information through their personal social channels.
The typical employee advocacy program is comprised of 3 components.
- People – Responsible for delivering relevant, approved, and appropriate content to their social channels. In employee advocacy, these are your employees.
- Processes – The setup, launch, workflows, approvals, operations, training, risk management, analytics, and reporting for your employee advocacy program.
- Tools – You’ll need a platform to receive, store, and distribute content, as well as to track the success of your employee advocacy program.
Benefits of Marketing Financial Services through an Employee Advocacy Program
Whether you’re B2B or B2C, an employee advocacy program can help increase your brand presence and awareness online. Content shared by employees is likely to receive 8x more engagement than content shared by brand channels. It’s not just about engagement, though; the content you share online has a purpose – to increase revenue. Did you know that social selling can lead to a 15% higher conversion rate? That’s 5x more effective than the rate of general marketing tactics.
In addition to increased engagement and conversions, marketing financial services through employee advocacy helps to:
1) Build Consumer Trust
Since 2008 there has been an influx of negative news stories about the financial industry, and while consumer confidence has climbed upwards the last few years, many people are still wary of financial institutions. There is a loss of trust between financial institutions and consumers. Fortunately, employee advocacy programs can help to rebuild the bridge between them.
When it comes to building trust, few methods work as well as word-of-mouth and personal testimony. About 90% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know, more than any other source. When your employees share your content on their social media profiles, they’re giving that content their personal recommendation, which, in turn, makes that content more trustworthy.
2) Improve Employee Loyalty
High turnover is a problem in almost every industry, including financial services. The less engaged an employee is with their employer, the more likely they are to look for a new opportunity. 70% of workers who were involved with employee advocacy programs said that it helped them expand their professional networking capabilities, which in turn made them more engaged with the brand.
3) Support In-Market Rapport
Rapport is built through conversations. One-sided conversations (whether with employees or consumers) are not an effective method for building rapport and trust. A strong employee advocacy program isn’t a megaphone to monologue; it’s a tool that can be used to establish and promote a dialogue, which, in turn, helps to create and foster an emotional connection to your financial services company.
What Type of Content Can You Provide to Employees to Share?
Because of the strict regulations, your industry is subject to, it’s important that your employees share only the content you provide. The better content you’re able to provide the better ROI. Maintain a rich content library that acts as a resource for your employees to engage with your brand online.
There are 4 types of content you should maintain in this library:
1) Consumer Educational Content
Financial literacy can be a foreign concept to a large segment of the population. Many people can barely read their credit card statements, let alone understand important financial fine print.
The more knowledge a consumer has about a financial product, the more likely they are to purchase and use said product. Knowledge is power! Use your employees to share 3rd party educational articles about recent market changes. Or, write your own posts that provide this information.
2) Consumer Enlightening Content
Give everyone that “a-ha” feeling. Enlightening financial content can be anything from unique tips on how to save money to information about new tax programs that can help consumers start their dream business. Enlightening content should make your consumers feel as if they’ve just stumbled upon a hidden gem.
By sharing enlightening content, your brand passes value through your employees to your consumers. The more value you share, the more useful you are to your consumers, the more likely they are to share and engage with your content.
3) Brand-Specific Content
From new hires to new program announcements, there’s a lot about your business that you should be excited to share with the world. You can encourage your employees to share new recruitment efforts, acquisitions, product developments, services, and other key highlights, accomplishments, and awards.
4) Entertaining Content
At the end of the day, you’re more than just an institution. Don’t let your consumer forget that you’re a business comprised of people too. Sharing entertaining content humanizes your institution. Memes, inspiring 3rd party articles, and silly jokes are just a few examples of entertaining content.
[button link=”https://www.investopedia.com/financial-edge/0212/how-the-sec-regulates-social-media.aspx” type=”icon” color=”orange” newwindow=”yes”] A Quick Note on Regulations: Since employee messaging on the behalf of the company is considered a marketing message, you need to be sure all your employee advocacy posts meet your regulatory and compliance regulations. Don’t let this scare though! If you’re already sharing your blog posts and white papers on your social media profiles, you can simply use the same approved post text for your employees’ advocacy posts. Easy peasy. If you’re still confused about how to ensure your social media posts meet regulatory requirements, check out this article.[/button]
Incentivizing Employee Participation
A thank you only goes so farl; if you want to ensure your employee advocacy efforts reach their full potential, consider incentivizing your employees who participate in the program. After all, employee advocacy is attributed to 45% of new revenue streams. A strong employee advocacy marketing program can pay massive dividends to the bottom line, so it’s only fair to give your participating employees something awesome for lending you their personal social feeds.
Some additional employee incentives include:
- Extra vacation time
- Shorter work days on Friday
- Free lunch or dinner
- Access to unique experiences
- Extra training or courses
- Cash bonuses
Not sure which to use? Try a variety of incentives to determine which delivers the biggest response amongst your employees.
Staying Compliant With Your Employee Advocacy Program
Compliance is a critical factor in any financial institution’s employee advocacy program. Setting clear policies and guidelines for employees to follow helps maintain the integrity of your brand and keep you away from fines and other penalties. Even though employees are using their personal social media accounts, they still need to ensure that any marketing done on behalf of the brand adheres to any compliance guidelines.
Some of the most common compliance regulations include:
- Not guaranteeing or promising any returns.
- Not sharing any misleading information.
- Keeping a record of all social media posts.
Proper training is key to ensure compliance. As you develop your employee advocacy program training, be sure to include a section on maintaining compliance.
Get the Right Tools
Although it can be done, an employee advocacy program is not an easy task to manage with spreadsheets and emails. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools out there that can help you automate your processes and manage your program more effectively.
SocialToaster is an award-winning advocacy marketing platform that can help you make the most out of your employee advocacy program. Hundreds of brands use SocialToaster to manage everything from content distribution to employee recruitment and even program ROI calculation.
SocialToaster can also help you keep your employee advocacy posts compliant. With SocialToaster, your team can lock in the post text to ensure that your employees only share what you provide them. This is ideal for the financial industry branches who are under rigid regulations by FRNA and the SEC.
Marketing Financial Services with SocialToaster
From building brand awareness, to generating content engagement, to driving sales, an employee advocacy program can meet a variety of needs when marketing financial services. Your employees are the most important asset you have and an employee advocacy program can help keep them engaged with your organization, increasing their long-term productivity and longevity.
If you’re ready to get started with your own advocacy program, let one of our employee advocacy strategists help you launch your employee advocacy program today. Send us an email, request a free demo, or give us a call at 855.62.TOAST today!