Social listening financial services tactics provide valuable customer insights. When customers have a bad experience with their bank it often generates an emotional reaction — money is a personal subject. Social media has provided consumers with a magnified voice that can have a huge impact on a bank’s reputation – and responding to your customers’ and community’s negative experiences quickly and efficiently can turn a bad situation into a winning customer experience.

Unfortunately, many Financial Services companies are still hesitant and slow to adopt and embrace the lucrative opportunities of social media, on account of the hefty industry regulations.

Rules around what information can be shared, how it can be shared, archiving engagement and more, have kept many Financial Services organizations at bay in the social space. Meanwhile, they are missing out on a powerful opportunity to integrate social into customer service, marketing, crisis/reputation management, sales and HR initiatives.

It’s not hard to see why many Financial Services organizations are lagging behind in the social marketplace – faced with the hurdles of complying with the rigid SEC and FINRA regulations – but, with the right education and technology, Financial Services companies can tap into all the benefits and rewards social media has to offer.

According to a recent study by Forrester, 45% of online U.S. adults who have a Twitter account are interested in interacting with financial services firms via Twitter, and consumers also say they are interested in receiving promotional alerts, financial advice, and customer service from their financial provider via Twitter.

Even despite the heavy regulations around the industry, some Financial Services companies have been effectively leveraging social to attract a new generation of social customers. Charles Schwab, TD Bank, Fidelity Investments, Vanguard, American Century and American Express all use social media for customer service, thought leadership and keeping their brands front of mind.

Here are 6 steps to a strong listening financial services strategies:

1. Develop a Strong Social Media Policy

First thing’s first. Before you dive into listening and engaging, cover your bases. Develop and implement a strong, clear social media communications policy to share with your employees and financial advisors, that will leave no question around what company information is acceptable to share and how engagement is recorded and archived.

It’s important that everyone involved in your company’s social media efforts thoroughly understands the social media compliance regulations. If you’re using a listening platform, make sure your team is fully trained on your tools, and how it can help your company stay compliant in the social space.

Synthesio worked with a Financial Services client for a few months, helping to create a strong social media policy, and provided extensive training on global social listening financial services tactics.

2. Create an Engagement Playbook

Your social media playbook should be a “how-to” book for your employees, built on the fundamentals of your social media policy. Provide clear examples of information that can be shared on each unique social media channel, and information that needs to be shared out of the social media sphere.

Your playbook should also outline a detailed process around when to take communication with your customers offline and route them to the right customer support representative. Include a validation process to respond as quickly as possible to your consumers, and prioritize engagement around negative feedback.

In a recent ABA Banking Journal blog post, CEO of Beyond the Arc, Steven J. Ramirez noted that the best way to decide which negative comments to respond to is to simply follow a process similar to a hospital triage. “First, fix what’s obviously broken.  If there is a serious complaint, engage those customers quickly.”

3. Be Prepared for Escalating Crises

Define what a crisis is for your company, and build a crisis response chart with several levels of severity – this chart should outline who will be tasked with what in each situation. For example, if your company Twitter account gets hacked or an employee sends a mistweet from a corporate handle – you need to know who will be in charge, how they will be contacted (if it’s outside working hours), and how they will deal with the situation at hand.

Synthesio worked with a Financial Services client to create a social media communications plan involving a six-tiered alert process. For each tier (level of crisis) an alert system was put in place to ensure the appropriate employee for each tier was alerted at the time of crisis.

4. Understand the Landscape

Find out where your community “lives”. Do your customers and prospects engage on twitter, blogs, forums or mainstream news? What keywords do they use the most? Maybe they’re discussing “banks”, “credit cards”, “investments”, “equities” or “brokers”.

A listening platform will help you seek out these conversations to give you a firm understanding of who your community is, and where they are – this information will be key when you’re ready to engage.

Bank BNP Paribas, well-known for its creative social media marketing initiatives, has successfully tapped into a whole new community, thanks to innovative campaigns like We Are Tennis. From taking a peek at our Synthesio dashboard, we can see that the buzz around BNP has gone from conversations around bank services and credit cards to discussions and posts about sports. BNP has found a way to expand their community-based – and social listening gives them the tools to seek out these conversations, drill down and engage.

5. Archive Content and Engagement

The Financial Services regulator, FINRA, requires that all social media content is stored for at least three years. Last year, the SEC announced a ‘risk alert’ on the use of social media by financial advisors, which emphasized the importance of compliance policies including record-keeping and third-party content. It’s imperative for Financial Services organizations to leverage a social listening solution that will archive all company posts and engagement to ensure you and your team stay in line with industry regulations.

Last year, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney granted its 17,000 financial advisers partial access to Twitter and LinkedIn. In order for the tweets to comply with securities regulations, Financial Advisors are required to draw from a prescribed archive of Twitter messages and submit LinkedIn postings for approval – and in turn, the tweeted and posted content gets archived.

6. Track your Corporate and Local Reputation

Your monitoring solution should also track and analyze all conversations and sentiment around your company and industry across multiple social media channels. And depending on the global reach of your company, it may be important to consider investing in a tool that provides vast global coverage and language capabilities. For example, if you have customers and prospects in China, you’re missing out on a wide range of opportunities if you’re not paying attention to the Chinese sites, like Renren, Sina Weibo, and Tencent Weibo.

It’s important for Financial Services organizations to track their reputation at a corporate level, but in some cases, it’s a good idea to monitor social conversations at a local level as well. In such a highly regulated industry, monitoring your employees’ public social media engagement is helpful for ensuring everyone is on the right track in regards to corporate messaging.

Are you using social listening financial services tactics to find out what your community is saying about your organization and your competitors? What’s your strategy to becoming compliantly active in social media?