Could an Enterprise Social Network Be Your Best Marketing Tool?

Financial service firms have been somewhat reluctant to use enterprise social networks (ESNs), because of a challenging regulatory environment. However, mainstream adoption of social media is driving significant changes in the way most companies communicate, and has even compelled regulators to clarify their social media compliance expectations. With this knowledge, firms can now assess their enterprise social network options and decide if one will be a good fit for their business.

The Key Considerations

In general, most enterprise social networks provide a good platform for quick communication and collaboration, externally and internally, across geographic boundaries and company departments. Because ESNs retain shared content, they can also serve as a dynamic collective memory for your firm, and be more accessible than traditional tools like email.

But those key enterprise social network qualities are only the beginning. You can take the usefulness of an ESN even further when you treat it as a:

  • Versatile Social Space. With an ESN your firm can create ‘deal rooms’ that combine the human interaction and information resources necessary to shepherd clients through a specific transaction. These spaces can also be dedicated to the management of High Net Worth Individuals, and other key client relationships.
  • Reputation Manager. Firm reputation management remains critical in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, and a Makovsky study reports 81% of communications, investor relations and marketing executives consider reputational and customer satisfaction issues a paramount concern. By communicating with your clients when they need you via a secure ESN space, you can tailor conversations and content for specific client needs, helping your business foster trust and loyalty among your client base.
  • New Talent Magnet. An ESN can also help you create a corporate culture that appeals to job candidates. For instance, a PwC study reports 61% of millennials working in financial services say they would seek employers whose values match their own.

    Millennials also value regular feedback, work-life balance, and opportunities to travel, develop new skills, and make meaningful contributions to an organization. An ESN can help show candidates what your firm has to offer, and allows you to start a conversation around the more intangible benefits of working at your firm.

  • Employee Training and Retention Tool. Employee loyalty also presents a challenge for the financial sector. According to Compdata's BenchmarkPro 2012 survey, the financial services sector experiences the second highest rate of turnover by industry, at 16.5%, and the PwC study suggests this churn is likely to continue: only one in ten financial services workers from the millennial demographic report an intent to remain in the industry for the long-term. An ESN can act as a powerful ally for on-boarding and training to help your firm retain talent—particularly those who grew up surrounded by social media and use it every day.
  • Event-based Marketing. ESNs can help you create real-time engagement with clients, which is especially useful when marketing financial services related to major life events, including educational, career, or family milestones. These often drive financial services purchases, and happen to be the kind of occasions people share via social media. When you create an ESN space to listen and respond to prospects about their life, you can increase your awareness of sales opportunities to offer the right services at the right time.

Getting Ready to Use an ESN

If you want to keep up with the evolving financial, employment and consumer expectations, an ESN can be invaluable. But, you still have to attend to compliance with social media regulations, including those outlined by the SEC and FINRA.

ESNs don’t typically have an archiving and content supervision capability designed for regulatory compliance built into them, which leaves you to come up with a solution to retain review and produce communications.

Fortunately, there are more archiving solutions available now, which are designed to work with your ESN (and can even be integrated into your email archiving workflow). They can make the message review experience virtually seamless and intuitive. The best solutions out there usually help firms retain all of the different types of communication associated with an ESN, including:

  • ESN posts and comments (especially ‘threaded messages’ which are the comments made back-and-forth on a post) shared by your employees, job candidates, clients and prospects
  • File attachments on posts and comments
  • Website links and posts
  • Polls associated with ESN posts
  • Private messages
  • Shares

When you archive and supervise ESN (and have a solid policy outlining the rules of engagement) this type of social networking really can become one of your star players in your mission to attract and keep valuable clients and employees.

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Jordan Richardson

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