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Successful Social Media Use Leads to Greater Consumer Access S

In financial services, the use of social media is becoming social business. Although financial services companies were slow to adopt social media use at first, they quickly ramped up their use of the most popular platforms. The same is true for advisors, as LIMRA research has found seven in 10 young advisors are using social media, and six in 10 companies have programs in place to support their advisors’ use of social media. 
In recognition of this shift, the 2015 LIMRA/LOMA Social Media Conference for Financial Services and Silver Bowl Awards promoted the theme “Social Media to Social Business.” The awards recognize social media excellence and innovation highlighting best practices in the financial services industry. 
When we interviewed our award recipients about their winning entries and the future of social media in financial services, several themes emerged. 
More Integration
The award winners said they foresee more companies integrating social media into their overall marketing strategy — both digital and traditional media. Several said they expect to see more direct call-to-action messages in social media. They specifically are looking at more micro-targeting of audiences, using the right message at the right time so the call to action is relevant and appropriate.
In addition to increased integration with marketing, the award winners said they believe social media will be part of efforts such as relationship building, referral and lead generation for advisors, agent recruitment, and customer service.
More Insight
We know from recent LIMRA research that when it comes to finances, people need the help of an expert. From knowing how much to save for retirement to understanding the importance of life insurance, consumers lack confidence in their abilities to make financial decisions.
The challenge is getting the right information to the right people at the right time and in the right format.  
The Silver Bowl winners see this as an opportunity. They are excited by the increased access to consumers afforded by social media, bringing with it the potential to better understand needs and interests of key markets. At the same time, social media allows consumers easier access to companies — and increased opportunities for education and information about how we as an industry can help solve problems.
More Humanity
LIMRA research has found that people who work with advisors trust them and remain loyal. In today’s digital world, the need for the human touch remains. However, that human touch is being made increasingly through digital channels today. Social media allows the industry to be present at conversations we normally wouldn’t be and to remain top-of-mind with helpful information and support. 
Social media, used correctly, is “marketing” in the same way that attending a chamber of commerce meeting or local charitable event is marketing — it allows you to get your name out there, meet people and establish relationships.
As we begin to understand the “omnichannel consumer,” we see that it’s not about one way to reach them, i.e., online, offline, digital, social or face to face. The opportunity is being able to reach and serve people in ways that work best for them. 
As one of our winners said, “Consumers want to hear from real people; they want to hear real thoughts and they want value. Social media is just another way to connect with people.” 

Norah Denley, senior research analyst for LIMRA's Technology in Marketing and Distribution Research, is responsible for research in the areas of e-marketing, social media and web analytics. Contact her at [email protected] .

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