It’s no secret that many financial services have embraced employee advocacy, citing the 2008 crisis as a turning point in the relationship with their customers. To see how the financial services industry can make the most of advocacy, I co-hosted a webinar with finance marketing expert Andrew Davies, Director of Digital Marketing and Creative Services at Capco. In the first part of webinar takeaways, I will cover the top benefits of employee advocacy for financial services and the ways to tackle the compliance challenge:
Employee Advocacy for Financial Services- Is It Worth the Investment?
It’s a rhetorical question, at least for us, whether employee advocacy is worth the investment for financial services. Let’s have a look at some of the top benefits financial services can reap by adopting advocacy:
1. Personalizing the Company’s Image and Building Loyalty
Needless to say, the 2008 crisis damaged the reputation of financial services and led to a lack of trust on the part of their customers. Following the crisis, Andrew saw a decrease in the performance of brand accounts on social media, and specifically a decline in engagement with branded content.
In parallel, content shared by employees was performing much better and garnering much more engagement. The takeaway here is clear: people prefer to engage with other people, rather than with brands. And this is where advocacy comes in. Financial services use it to associate a human voice to their brand and build relationships and loyalty with their audience.
2. Reaching New Audiences
Employee advocacy is a great way to reach new audiences, seeing as the employees’ networks are usually much more extensive than company networks. So it only makes sense to amplify the corporate message through advocates’ profiles.
However, the number of LinkedIn connections or Facebook friends of a specific employee isn’t the only reason why advocacy will expose your content to more eyeballs. In view of the latest Facebook algorithm update, content from friends is now prioritized over content from companies, which means that content shared by advocates will have higher visibility on Facebook.
3. Strengthening Brand and Personal Expertise
The power of advocacy lies also in its personalization potential. Each employee is able to accompany a company article with their own message, sharing an original view. Consistent posting of company content, along with those views, has the potential to turn employees into thought leaders on social media, with an extensive follower base.
For the brand, having employees who are social thought leaders reinforces its domain expertise. It also allows the brand to develop multi-faceted expertise, with different employees expressing insightful opinions on different topics.
4. Utilizing Advocacy for Internal Comms and Encouraging Employee Engagement
In enterprise companies with many departments and verticals, it’s easy for different units to become siloed and avoid sharing knowledge with each other. Advocacy addresses this challenge through posting content for cross-company sharing.
Advocacy provides a way for employees to learn and get more in-depth information about initiatives and projects from other departments. It’s often a tool for effective communication between headquarters and local markets, which develop a relationship around advocacy content.
This increased involvement through advocacy also leads to higher employee engagement, the holy grail of any company.
5. It Has a 12.5X Higher Conversion Rate than Social Ads
Has social media become a pay-to-play arena? To test this thesis, Capco conducted a case study, in which it posted ads inviting professionals to start a career at Capco. In parallel, advocates shared the same messages to their social networks. The results might surprise some B2B marketers.
The ads yielded a 3.93% conversion rate, which is an industry high for ads. The advocacy posts, on the other hand, presented the overwhelming number of a 51.7% conversion rate. This means that in the case of advocacy, more than half of the users who clicked on those posts went on to perform a career search on Capco’s website. This represents a 12.5X higher conversion rate for advocacy vs. social ads.
Overcoming the Social Media Compliance Hurdle
64% of the financial advisors who avoid social media cite compliance concerns as the reason, according to Putnam Social Advisory study. But regulations shouldn’t stop financial services from adopting advocacy.
According to Andrew, social media isn’t an instant win. Rather than a sprint, embedding a social media strategy into an organization is a marathon. Similarly, there is no silver bullet for social media compliance in financial services, it’s all about building robust relationships and work processes with your team.
This is the 6-step guide to overcoming the social media compliance hurdle:
Step 1: Establish a dedicated social media team. Social media is often overlooked or undervalued in organizations, which means marketers or communications managers with several other responsibilities are tasked also with social media. This is a mistake. A dedicated social media team is an asset to any financial service.
This team will have the always-on approach that fits the financial services industry and will be the focal point for any social media concerns or questions. Once a dedicated team has been created, it can then start creating work processes.
Step 2: Create work processes with the compliance team. An advocacy program admin cannot be expected to know every possible aspect of social media regulations for financial services. There are legal and compliance teams for that. To ensure compliance, social media managers need to build robust work processes with their compliance teams and sustain them over time.
Firstly, establish approval and review processes with the legal team. Involve them early on in your content planning and ask for their input. Later on, set monthly or quarterly meetings with them and keep them in the loop.
Step 3: Conduct compliance training and leave an open channel for communication. Compliance concerns can prevent advocates from sharing company content. To allay those fears, conduct a thorough compliance training and educate employees on the types of content and messages they can and cannot share.
After the training has been completed, leave open channels for communication and questions- these can be roundtables or an online forum where employees can get answers to their questions.
Step 4: Develop libraries of pre-approved content and images. To help employees comply with the strict social media regulations, create content they can easily share without having to decide whether this content meets the standards or not. This will make advocates feel safer when sharing and encourage them to take part in the program.
Step 5: Adopt technology that supports compliance. Employee advocacy platforms have various built-in compliance features that can make your job easier. Oktopost, for example, has an approvals component which allows structuring review processes with multiple teams.
In addition, Oktopost allows advocacy program admins to pause all activities in case of a crisis and create a banned words lists, to prevent employees from using sensitive terms.
Step 6: Define a crisis management protocol. In case something does happen, despite all the steps you took, and compliance standards aren’t met- you need to have a crisis management protocol in place. Andrew shared with us Capco’s 5-step crisis management policy.
The first stage is social listening which can reveal possible compliance issues on social media. If a red flag does appear, then it’s time to review and asses the risk, collaborating with your legal teams. Once the risk level has been assessed, now it’s time to figure out how to handle the issue. After the crisis has been handled, your team should resume social listening and restore normal activity.
Employee Advocacy is the Perfect Fit for Financial Services
Employee advocacy has multiple benefits for financial services. From personalizing their image to creating relationships with their audience and down to fostering employee engagement- this strategy is the perfect fit for the financial services industry. To leverage employee advocacy for financial services and find out how you can get started with advocacy while meeting compliance requirements, take a look at our Employee Advocacy solution.