There is significant opportunity for business to leverage social technologies. Social technologies, in their relatively brief period of time, have found favor with consumers faster than any previous technology. It took 13 years for commercial to reach 50 million households and 3 years to sign 50 million subscribers. But for Facebook hit 50 million user in one year and Twitter in 9 months. They give basic human behavior, seeking identity and “connectedness”, the speed and scale of the internet at marginal cost. In just a few years, the use of social technology has become a sweeping cultural, social and economic phenomenon. The recent McKinsey Global Institute report shows that more than 1.5 trillion people around the world have an account on a social networking site and spend 20% of their time online spent on social networks. 72% surveyed reported using social technologies in their businesses and 90% of them thought they are seeing benefits.

Social technologies have literally changed how we live. And businesses are changing their behavior as well leveraging them not simply as another media platform but as an important business tool with a variety of capabilities and broad applications such as:

  1. Social networks: keep connected through personal and business profiles
  2. Blogs: Publish and share opinions, thoughts and experiences
  3. Recommendations, ratings and reviews: Evaluate and rate products, services, and experiences, giving clients the opportunity to share opinions
  4. Discussion forums: Discuss topics in open communities; rapidly access expertise
  5. Shared work-spaces: Co-create content, coordinate joint projects and tasks
  6. Crowd-sourcing: Harness collective and generate collectively derived answers
  7. Media and file sharing: upload, share, and comment on photos, videos, and recordings
  8. Learning: Podcasts, MOOCs, thought leadership to educate and inform

Despite all the opportunities, the value creation of social technologies is still largely untapped in the financial services industry. According to a report from the McKinsey Global Institute, only 64 percent of financial services firms use at least one social technology tool compared with 77 percent of firms in the business, legal and professional services industries. Only 3 percent of financial services firms are using social technologies on a full-scale – integrating social technologies into their operational, marketing, sales and service strategies. It is increasingly clear that if brands want to be part of these huge opportunities, they need to be open and more aggressive in incorporating social technologies into their strategy.

How to Start?

Most social technology implementation in financial services industry so far is in marketing and client service, which have great potential to reach, nurture, acquire prospective clients and engage existing clients. A good starting point for companies is experimenting with a well-established social platform such as LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. Start discussion threads, post links to relevant content, publish promotions or marketing materials to engage clients more closely and more personally.

Establish More Effective Two-Way Communication

Many business owners simply use social technologies to broadcast information. These kind of “announcements” tend to be top-down, one way communications. A tweet can be easy and inexpensive to send out. However, the real magic of social technology is in generating dialogue and conversation with clients and prospects. By directly engaging with them, you can establish a real connection with them – a two-way conversation that gives you the opportunity to listen and present your solution, which provides an opportunity for your audience to get to know your business. This is what social CRM is all about, and it is an incredibly effective marketing tool. Shauna highlights this in her blog: The 5Cs of Social Media.

Creating More Engaging Educating and Learning Experiences

In Don’t Sell: Educate and Inform Your Prospects, Norm explains: “The client acquisition process is about helping your prospect buy rather than selling them a product or service”. Social technology can be an effective way to deliver personalized education and learning experiences, not just general broadcasts of information and content. Wernham Wealth Management, one of our clients, delivers a radio learning program – Retirement Ready. It is available via podcast for download over the Internet. The Wernham team is creating a unique learning experience for their clients, moving beyond the benefit of their expertise and advice to building a learning platform to raise awareness amongst their prospects and clients.

Measuring ROI and Generating More Insights

Tie the use of social technology to your strategy by linking it to your objectives. There are some basic tracking indicators, such as likes, mentions, shares, subscribers, followers, but the ultimate success will depend on how well social technologies contribute to your pipeline, revenue, client loyalty, and other targets. Identify the metrics you want to measure and then experiment. Use the data you collect to generate insights on how your activities impact your business and adjust your strategy accordingly. The insights will help your social technology decisions and uncover the new business opportunities.