services

7 Social Media Marketing Tips for Financial Services

At Social Fresh, one of our core communities is finance. So we’ve been helping folks in this industry get ahead of their peers for a while now.

How should finance firms be using social media and content marketing to get ahead?

We’ve pulled together a list of current tips and trends just for finance marketers.

Finance Is The New Black

Inside and outside the industry, you’ll always hear that marketing for finance isn’t sexy. Or is it?

It’s true that financial services have a ton of regulations and they must look professional and buttoned up at all times. We’re talking about money here and who wants to do business with a company you don’t trust?

Social media and content marketing can accelerate old school finance marketing efforts to deliver more prospects, better customer relationships, and shorter sales cycles. Selling financial services today requires more story, more personality, and more personal touch than ever before. These tools can help.

And that’s important because new financial service brands that utilize technology and social media are popping more and more often.

Apps like Acorns and Robinhood are disrupting the investment space, not to mention the avalanche of cryptocurrency investment apps. Square, Stripe, and Venmo (PayPal acquisition) are household names for payments. Rocket Mortgage, Lenda, and others are dramatically simplifying the mortgage loan process. Lemonade is doing the same, maybe even more dramatically, for home and renters insurance.

There are dozens of others. Financial services are innovating at an incredibly fast rate.

Banks, lenders, insurers, and advisors have to compete in a space where their products are not huge differentiators and today they have to be more accessible than ever–to make sure they don’t get left behind by new technologies.

Social Fresh just launched our virtual conference on this very topic, Social Fresh Finance. Over three days, March 6-8 2018, we will host a dozen presentations from top finance marketing experts.

As I work with our conference speakers, I wanted to share some key marketing insights and recommendations.

1. Stand Out With Instagram

I’ve said for a couple years now that Instagram is the most important social network for most businesses, next to Facebook. And that is truer today than ever. Instagram is on the verge of 1 billion monthly active users. No other social network has crossed that mark outside of Facebook, who is currently at over 2 billion MAUs.

Instagram has many advantages for finance marketers when compared to Facebook. The engagement on Instagram for businesses is often much higher and a higher quality than what they are seeing on Facebook.

Additionally, Instagram does not have as much marketing content or news, as compared to Facebook. It’s more often filled with inspiring photos, fun memes, and positive stories from close friends. It’s a great place for banks, lenders, insurance, and wealth advisors to stand out.

Mike Langford, CEO at finservMarketing and one of our speakers for Social Fresh Finance, shared that he thinks “Instagram is MUCH more interactive and conversational now than it was just a year ago.” The platform has steadily transitioned from a photo sharing site to a conversation-based community for friends and like-minded groups.

Mike also shared that he sees Instagram users as more willing to engage overall compared to other social networks. “Peoples’ minds are much more open and relaxed on Instagram than on Facebook or Twitter where they are bombarded with politics and other cringe-worthy stuff.”

Instagram is definitely a different type of social network for most finance firms. It will likely be a big shift from what you’re used to. And creating a ton of original visual content can be challenging. But the engagement opportunity Mike talks about is there and a real underutilized strategy for financial services.

2. Take The Opportunities Facebook Gives You

Facebook has made several changes to their news feed over the last few months. These changes continue a long-term trend on Facebook that makes it harder for businesses to show up organically on the platform.

This isn’t new.

This is a famous chart from 2014 that shows how Facebook’s stock price goes up the more reach goes down for pages. Since it forces businesses to use ads more.

Image via Convince & Convert

These recent changes, however, are more the end of a long story rather than something new to be worried about. We’ve known it would end this way for a while.

Yes, your Facebook page reach will drop even more than it has the last few years.

It’s frustrating when Facebook makes changes like this, but if you are able to adapt and take the opportunities Facebook gives, you’ll have an advantage over your competition.

Facebook Marketing Expert Mari Smith, one of our speaker for Social Fresh Finance, emphasizes Facebook’s main advantage: their massive audience size and ad targeting options.

“It remains the #1 social network with an audience size of 2.13 billion active users. And, there is no other platform that provides the vast depth and breadth of targeting parameters. Facebook’s paid placement products are still the best your ad budget can buy,” said Mari.

As Mari mentions, these recent changes should only increase the already huge value of Facebook’s ad platform. Facebook ads are easily the most powerful tool at your disposal in social media. That’s a big statement and I don’t say it lightly.

When I talked about more customers and shorter sales cycles before, this is one of the key technologies that can help you achieve those results.

Facebook ads can also help you lower your customer acquisition costs. For example, Turkish bank Akbank ran a promotion for one of their loan products that allows them to acquire new loan customers at a 70% lower cost per loan compared to other marketing channels.

Beyond increasing your focus on Facebook’s ad options, here are more results from Facebook’s news feed shift:

  • Comments Are King: Comments are more important than ever. If you are posting content from your page without thinking about how to generate comments and discussion from your fans, your content will fail.
  • You May Want to Post Less: Comments are so important, Facebook will begin to punish you if you are sharing content that consistently gets no comments. So no more posting just to post.
  • Live Video Wins Big: Mainly because it generates six times more comments than content types on Facebook.
  • Promote Posts off of Facebook: Find new ways to push your audience to a specific Facebook Post. Ads, email lists, other social channels, etc. This is a suggestion from Brian Fanzo and this tactic is more important than ever.
  • Posts Are Now Campaigns: Treat each Facebook post as a mini-campaign. The main goal of that campaign? Comments and discussion. If you can get friends to talk to each other on one of your posts, you will see your post and page reach jump significantly.

3. Keep An Eye On LinkedIn Trends

LinkedIn is a major channel for finance marketers. Especially agents and advisors looking to connect one-on-one with new and existing customers in a professional way.

But LinkedIn is increasingly shifting their platform to be more of a social network similar to Facebook. What this means is you have to start paying more attention to LinkedIn and the changes they make. Those changes are opportunities to stand out.

For instance, LinkedIn just opened native video a few months ago to all users.

Anyone can now upload native videos on LinkedIn that are less than 10 minutes. Early engagement numbers for these videos look really good, even compared to other video platform options. You should definitely be testing this.

Social Fresh Finance speaker, Deborah Owens, founder of WealthyU, tells all the finance marketers and agents she works with that LinkedIn is one of their top resources for building their brand and finding new customers.

Another recent change on LinkedIn is an improvement to LinkedIn Groups. They are cleaning up the experience a little which should improve Groups engagement. Adding videos to groups and allowing LinkedIn Groups to show up in the main stream. As this LinkedIn Groups refresh rolls out, it could be a good opportunity for finance firms.

4. Don’t Forget About YouTube

YouTube is easy to forget when Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram dominate the headlines in marketing. Most of us already know Youtube is a dominant social network, with only parent company Google getting more search engine traffic.

The power of video to help educate and build trust in potential customers is unmatched. Facebook and Youtube are the top video channels for your finance brand to have a presence today. And while we will always recommend Facebook, it’s important to make sure you have a strategy for Youtube that takes into account what your customers are searching.

Social Fresh speaker alum and video expert Owen Hemsath has worked with a lot of finance customers and told me that “financial marketers have long ignored YouTube and other video marketing platforms as a viable asset for promoting financial services. This has created a gaping hole for my financial clients to happily fill.”

Owen said his team has “built channels around retirement, investments, taxes, and even cryptocurrency – all of which have gained thousands of views, subscribers, and revenue from new client acquisition.”

Youtube is a powerful option for your finance firm. And many in the finance industry are not taking advantage.

5. Don’t Ignore One of the Most Public Parts of Your Brand

Facebook, Google, and a growing number of online review websites are often more trusted by your potential customers than your own messaging and advertising.

If you have a physical office or an app, the number of those review websites multiplies even more.

Online reviews and testimonials are a very public record of your transactions with customers. And very trusted. Beyond making your customer experience as good as possible, there are steps you can take to review and optimize this data trail of public approval.

Gabby Griffin, Social Media Manager at US Bank and one of our speakers for Social Fresh Finance, manages this process as a part of her day-to-day. “Your customers are telling you exactly where you went wrong or where you’re doing well. Make sure you’re paying attention,” said Gabby.

Document every site where you the public can leave reviews of your business. Monitor them. Learn how to encourage good reviews and mitigate negative reviews.

Collect the best testimonials of your brand and amplify them. They are gold for a financial services brand.

6. Design Your Video Strategy Around Trust

Video is your most emotionally engaging content opportunity. And Youtube is not the only platform you need to be thinking about for video marketing. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even Pinterest offer compelling video marketing options.

When I asked digital technology strategist and keynote speaker Brian Fanzo what advice he would give to financial services brands when it comes to their video marketing efforts, his focus was on trust.

When someone asks Brian how important video marketing is, he responds by asking “How important is trust?”

“I’d say video everything when it comes to making decisions around financial matters. And today nobody trusts a brand or a logo. But digital native consumers do trust the people who work for financial companies. You have to humanize the brand and shrink the distance between the brand and the consumer and there’s no better way to do this than video. Video allows your customers to look you in the eye digitally.”

Mastercard is a brand that has done a great job with their video marketing, beyond just reposting their TV commercials to Youtube. Their videos are fun and have personality. They break out of the stodgy persona many consumers expect in finance.

Here is a great mobile-friendly short video from Mastercard’s Facebook page.

7. Increase Your Knowledge of Cryptocurrency and Blockchain

I’ll be honest. I am only just beginning to learn about blockchain, Bitcoin, and other cryptocurrencies. I can say all signs point to the influence these technologies are having on consumers is only growing. And growing rapidly.

For the Social Fresh Finance Conference, we wanted to make sure we talked about cryptocurrencies and blockchain. This topic may or may not become a part of your product offering as a financial services firm, but it will continue to be an important curiosity for your customers. And eventually, sooner or later (maybe soon), it will impact how you do business.

We brought in Savannah Peterson, Founder of Savvy Millennial, to talk about her experience with this growing corner of the industry. Savannah has worked with several cryptocurrencies and startups that are building businesses based on these technologies.

“The digital asset revolution is here! What an exciting and wild year 2018 is poised to be.” said Savannah. “It’s important that finance marketers keep up with changing trends in blockchain and cryptocurrency. The finance consumer community is very curious about what the future holds, and no matter what role you play in the existing financial ecosystem, it’s important to contribute to the conversation.”

Savannah said finance firms should “expect questions from your customers and audiences as momentum in this space continues to build.”

I can’t wait to hear Savannah’s session at Social Fresh Finance. If we think financial services are innovating fast today, can you imagine what we will start seeing as cryptocurrencies and blockchain grow their impact on the industry?

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To join us at Social Fresh Finance, click here to reserve your seat now. The conference is virtual and you can attend from anywhere in the world.


Social Fresh

Keys to Business Growth for Professional Services

Keys to Business Growth for Professional Services written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Sure, people in professional services need to be good at what they do, but their audience hopes that’s a given. Sometimes even the best of the best have a hard time growing their business because they are so focused on the services they provide, they just don’t dedicate time to the growth of their company (or simply don’t know where to start to do that).

Whether you’re in accounting, law, tech consulting, or provide and other professional service, the advice below still applies if you want to separate yourself from the competition and grow your business.

Common traits I hear from my professional service-based clients include:

  • Business to-date is primarily from referrals and word of mouth
  • They’re successful to an extent but could be more successful with the right strategy in place
  • Scaling is intimidating and it’s unclear how to do it effectively

To take control of your growth efforts, take some of my advice below.

Identify your ideal client

This notion goes above and beyond simply identifying and understanding your target audience. While that’s important, it’s equally important to understand the types of clients you want to work with. This will make both your life and your client’s life easier. Ask yourself the following:

  • Who needs the services you provide?
  • Who can you deliver the greatest value to?
  • Who do you enjoy working with?

Think about your best clients today and what makes them ideal for you so that you can apply it to attracting new clients moving forward. Take the following into consideration when developing these ideal clients:

  • What are the must-haves to be a client (this will help you narrow down your list)?
  • What attributes are you looking for in a client (not required, but preferred)?
  • What makes them ideal?
  • What behaviors signal that they are the right fit for you?

Once you can answer these questions, put the list together and keep it nearby to help qualify prospects moving forward. This will help to ensure you don’t waste time spinning your wheels on the wrong candidates.

Develop a promise

Once you have your ideal client in mind, it’s important that you create a clear promise for them that can help you articulate you understand their wants and needs and that you are the right business to help them.

What’s tough about professional services is that they’re intangible, which is what makes your promise (and that you live up to your promise) so important. The promise needs to reinforce that you can help them reach their goals.

In addition to your promise, make your distinct point of view and point of differentiation from your competitors clear. This will help to separate you from the rest of the crowd.

I have a friend that owns an SEO firm and he basically says, “All you need to know about SEO is that we make the phone ring.” He doesn’t dive into how his business works, or SEO jargon, he gets to the root of what his clients care about and how he’ll help to get them what they want. See how that works?

Focus on problems, not solutions

What I’m essentially saying here, is focus on what your ideal clients are experiencing, not your services. People don’t really care about what you sell. All they care about are that their problems are solved and that you can help them solve them.

How to figure out your client’s problems

It’s important that you solve these problems early on in the customer journey. You need to get very good at understanding your ideal client’s intent because that’s where the data is that you’re looking for. To do this:

  • Master keyword research
  • Use online tools (like Answer the Public)
  • Look at your reviews
  • Read past emails
  • Ask your team who interacts with your clients what problems they’ve picked up on through conversations

You can even reach out to current clients to get the information you’re looking for. Here’s a list of questions that may be useful to ask them:

  • What are their goals and dreams?
  • How do they gather information to solve their problems?
  • What are some things that are important to them?
  • Do you know what the biggest unmet need is in your marketplace?
  • What is the biggest pain point your customer experiences?
  • How hard have you worked to try to solve their problems in the past?
  • Why is the problem so hard for them to solve?
  • Who else is trying to solve the problem and how are they approaching it?
  • What does success look like to them?
  • What might hold them back from buying a product or service?
  • How do they come to a purchase decision?

Solving the problem

Once you have all the information mentioned above, you can actually start to solve their problems.

  • Start by refocusing your messaging and match your message to your ideal client so that it resonates with them quickly.
  • Take some time and break down every solution you sell, every benefit you attribute to what you do, and map it back to a handful of “trigger phrases.”
  • Develop an attention-grabbing headline to put on your website (think back to your promise with this one).
  • Through content, show them that you are experts in the field that will help to make their pain points go away. Providing actionable advice can go a long way.
  • Be responsive to comments, emails, and social media in an effort to build trust and establish a connection.

Provide an excellent customer experience

So many people are focused on the changes in marketing and all the new things we have to master and pay attention to.

The fact is the most significant driver of change today isn’t the way marketing is changing, it’s the way buying is changing.

With clients now in charge of their buying journey, the most important marketing element still left in our control is the customer experience.

While they are in charge of their journey, it’s your job to influence it, and in my opinion, this starts with your website.

Your website today is the jumping in point of the customer journey. Its job is to lead and guide prospects into a journey of awareness, trust, knowledge, insight, and conversion. All your ideal client wants is is a frictionless path to the information or action they’ve gone there to find. Website design should be renamed customer experience design.

Additionally, when it comes to the customer experience, the most tenuous point of the relationship is the beginning. Once a person becomes a client, you must look at their first 90 days as a trial period where your entire goal is to construct the type of experience that can only turn them into a raving fan (and great referral source down the road!).

At the end of the day, businesses that deliver the best customer experience do so because they care about helping the people they serve.

There are many other important factors that lead to a successful business, but nailing the points mentioned above is a great start. What have you found to be helpful in growing your business?


Duct Tape Marketing

Uber to suspend services in Macau due to regulatory hurdles


(Reuters) — Uber will suspend its services in Macau from July 22 as it has not been able to unlock the full benefits of ride sharing in the gambling hub, in another blow to the firm that is fighting legal scrutiny in many Asian markets.

This is the second time Uber has decided to pause its operations in Macau. The prior plan had been triggered by steep fines imposed on its drivers in the Chinese-ruled territory, but the company in September did a U-turn and decided to stay on citing support from residents.

“We are already exploring ways to serve the city again, and have had initial discussions with business partners, including transport operators and hotels,” Uber said on its website on Monday. A spokesman declined to elaborate beyond the statement or give numbers regarding Uber’s presence in Macau.

Macau is not a big market for the U.S. firm, but it adds to the list of countries where Uber’s ride-sharing service has run into regulatory problems, such as Korea and Japan. Its drivers continue to face a legal battle in Hong Kong.

In Taiwan, Uber made a comeback in April, after a two-month suspension, following talks with the authorities.

(Reporting By Sijia Jiang; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Himani Sarkar)

Social – VentureBeat

Uber and Yandex merge their ride-sharing services to form a new $3.8 billion company targeting Russia and neighboring markets


Here’s a bolt out of the blue: Uber is partnering with Yandex, the Google of Russia, to launch a new standalone company that merges their respective ride-sharing services to target Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, and Georgia.

The new company, tentatively titled “NewCo,” will be 59.3 percent owned by Yandex, 36.6 percent owned by Uber, and 4.1 percent owned by employees. Additionally, Uber will roll its UberEats food delivery service into the new venture.

Though Yandex is perhaps better known for its online technologies across Russia and nearby regions, it has actually operated an Uber-style taxi-hailing app for a number of years already, and it recently announced it was slashing its prices to stay ahead of the local competition, which includes Uber and Gett. Uber, for its part, has faced stiff regulatory hurdles in Russia and though it was given the green light to continue operating in Moscow last year, it was restricted to only using licensed taxi drivers.

As a result of this new deal, Uber is investing $ 225 million into NewCo, with Yandex only stumping up $ 100 million and the post-money valuation pegged at $ 3.725 billion.

That Uber is putting more cash into the new company, yet is only gaining a little more than one-third of the ownership, indicates that Yandex holds a much larger share of the local market, and Uber has effectively failed to overturn the incumbents. Indeed, according to a set of slides issued by Yandex, it is currently on track to do 285 million rides in 2017 across the various regions, while Uber is on for more than half of that, at around 134 million.

Above: Uber vs. Yandex

The announcement also echoes a similar move Uber made in China last year, when it chose to be swallowed by local etaxi giant Didi Chuxing in a $ 35 billion deal rather than continue to haemorrhage cash in its efforts to infiltrate the local market. The more modest nature of this latest tie-up with Yandex reflects the smaller market in question, but it also goes some way toward improving Uber’s balance sheet.

“Combining our business with Yandex will give us a very significant stake in a new company which will initially serve more than 35 million trips each month and operate in an incredible 127 cities in six countries across the region,” explained Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, Uber’s head for EMEA, in an email sent to employees. “Uber will also have three of the seven seats on the new company’s board and — together with the $ 225 million cash investment we are making in the new company — our 36.6 percent ownership stake will be worth almost $ 1.4 billion.”

The new company — which will be headed up by Tigran Khudaverdyan, who currently serves as the CEO of Yandex.Taxi — will also tap Yandex’s existing technologies, including maps and navigation.

Once the transaction is complete, which is expected to happen in Q4, riders will be able to use both Yandex and Uber apps, but the driver apps will be integrated, “leading to shorter passenger wait times, increased driver utilization rates, and higher service reliability,” according to a separate Yandex statement.

It’s also worth noting here that Uber’s and Yandex’s boards of directors have already approved this deal (as you’d expect) and shareholder approval isn’t required — the only potential sticking point would be regulatory approval.

Social – VentureBeat

[Dutch] Presentation: Make your app smarter with Microsoft Cognitive Services

As an introduction, I’ve written already several articles here about the Microsoft Cognitive Services. By combining the power of machine learning and Xamarin, you’re able to make your apps smarter and more personal just like I showed before. All of this led up to a presentation that was given at dotNedSaturday, organised by dotNed, the largest .NET User Group from the Netherlands.

Presentation: Make your app smarter with Microsoft Cognitive Services

This presentation will dive into the power of Microsoft Cognitive Services in combination with Xamarin build apps for your phone. By doing this, apps can be made a lot smarter since you’ll be able to tap into machine learning with ease. Apps can be a lot more personal as well, as if it’s your assistant that’ll be more than just Siri/Cortana/Google Now. All of that in a full cross-platform mobile fashion using Xamarin.

During this session I’ll dive into the different available options from the Microsoft Cognitive Services, as well as giving a hands-on demo on how to integrate this in a mobile app. The sample code can be found on Github. Take note the presentation itself is in Dutch, the slides are English. Enjoy!

Read more…

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