Industry executives at LinkedIn’s FinanceConnect conference offered advice on how marketers need to reinvent social media strategies for the financial services industry to communicate effectively with consumers.

New strategies should offer more personalized content that is relevant with the consumer, so ultimately there is more positive influence.

Here are 11 nuggets of social media advice revealed by chief marketing officers and other industry executives:

1. Help Through Beneficial Content
With social media, salesy material is way less effective than helpful information.

Simply put, Paul Zettl, managing director of retail marketing and social media at TD Ameritrade, said, “We inspire advisors and traders to be better.”

Phil Bowman, chief marketing officer at TD Ameritrade agreed that they strive to “inspire and educate.”  He said, “With social, we have a lot of communities.”  This helps expand their reach to gain more clients.

2. Humanize
Today, personal and corporate brands are blurring together.  

Linda Descano, managing director and head of digital partnerships, content and social at Citi, advised, “Write in the first person. Don’t just hide behind a corporate logo. Bring that person in it. When we come to work each day, we deal with the same issues as our consumers. They identify with us and it helps humanize the brand.”

With that said, she added, “We make sure everything is aligned with the brand.”

She sees her content creating a ripple effect, which she calls “amplification.” She noted the increased reach has been powerful.

3. Be Open, Not Outdated
Sallie Krawcheck, past president of Merrill Lynch, US Trust and Smith Barney, said, “A lot of financial services social media is about ‘look at me, look at me, look at me.’”

Financial services firms need to try new things. She cautioned attendees, “If you wait until everything is perfect, you wait until you die.”

She shared that it will get to the point, in the not so distant future, that if organizations are not using social media they will look old. This is a problem for most of the financial services industry.

4. Think Creatively
Often times, it is not what your company is pitching that is successful in the social media universe.

Ed Gilligan, president of American Express Company, shared insights into how his team created Small Business Saturday just three weeks before Thanksgiving. It is a case study in how to get positive exposure without even talking about your own products and services.  

The movement soon had a million likes on Facebook and now has over three million.

Gilligan said, “It was like throwing a pebble in the ocean and seeing the ripple effect.”

He advised that big companies have to realize the world has changed and so has consumer behavior. If they cut off imagination, they will soon be in trouble. Instead, if they do not accept mediocrity and keep the customer first, he believes they will be more successful.

To do this, companies need to celebrate learning, even if it does not work. “The culture of your company is everyone’s attitude that day,” said Gilligan. Leaders especially should be positive about what an organization is doing.

He had an interesting point of view that we should not question failure, as it often leads to something else.

5. Deliver On Brand Promises
“A brand is a set of promises that allows people to pick one brand from another,” said Claire Huang, chief marketing officer at JPMorgan Chase.

She asked, what is delivered in the business that can help shine up a brand? When talking about how to successfully use data, she indirectly gave such a branding example. During the devastating hurricane Sandy, her firm reached out to a large list of those that might have been impacted. One teller called a blind man who was a customer. When he did not answer, she went to his home and found him with no electricity or food.

Those kinds of small, inspiring stories can tell the public so much about an organization.

6. Be True
In today’s social world, there is more transparency.

David Wheldon, head of brand, reputation and citizenship at Barclays Group, said community support has to come from the heart and be authentic. If not, he cautioned, “Most people will know when you’re exploiting a network.”

7. Be Cautious
Herb Greenberg, senior stocks commentator at CNBC, has been in the business of writing for many years.  The fact that more people now can self-publish information brings new risks.  

He said, “Non-journalists don’t know the rules of engagement.” They have to be careful not to be sued. He warned the audience, “You have to self-police yourself.”

8. Be Responsive
Interact with social media commenters to positively shape your online reputation.

Michael Feigenbaum, head of digital strategy and engagement at Barclays Wealth & Investment Management, said if things are negatively said via social media, it creates an opportunity.  

It is important that an organization react appropriately. “If you do something wrong, you admit it,” he said.

9. Educate Senior Management
Often the people at the top of an organization are the ones with the least experience with social media. To effectively lead, they need to experience the power of social networks.

Lisa Shalett, head of brand marketing and digital strategy at Goldman Sachs, told attendees, “Embrace a reverse-mentorship policy. The junior people can mentor the senior people at the firm.”  

This arrangement creates great exposure opportunity for the junior person and the senior person learns in a risk-free environment.

10. Utilize Brand Ambassadors
The more associates that tell the brand story, often times the better for the overall brand. Yet, many financial services firms are not allowing their employees to use social networks freely.

Tatiana Howard, managing director of Schwab Advisor Services acquisition marketing, said employees have brands of their own and they support the company’s overall brand.  

Although Schwab is not quite there yet with company-wide employee use of social media, she said the sales team pilot they are conducting has been quite successful.

She advised, “It is your brand, you have to be out there and relevant.”

11. Test
Social media is evolving, so there is some trial and error.

Eileen Loustau, global director of social media at Blackrock/iShares, said, “There is no such thing as social media strategy. It’s more like social media test and learn.”

If her numbers are accurate, they are doing a great job, as she said they have benefited from social media participation in the area of millions and millions of dollars of earned media (as opposed to what it might cost for paid media).

Other Key Takeaways
Brian Goffman, vice president of enterprise marketing at LinkedIn, ended the conference by saying, “Content marketing is here to stay.  Think about what you are going to create and how you are going to get found. It is not an option anymore.”

He added, “Offline connections are being replicated online. They can turn behemoth companies into people.” This helps build better and stronger relationships.

Answering his own question of "Why do people come to LinkedIn?" Goffman said, “We are about bringing people together and making them successful.”

Mike Byrnes is a national speaker and owner of Byrnes Consulting LLC. His firm provides consulting services to help advisors become even more successful. Need help with business planning, marketing strategy, business development, client service and management effectiveness? Read more at and follow @ByrnesConsultin.