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Opinion

How Voya Is Tackling Social Media Marketing

November 20, 2014

Social media are increasingly important for advisors, whose business depends on building trusted relationships with clients. Voya has made it a priority to provide our brokerage advisors with the resources to let them engage online confidently and securely.

Like any other online communication channels, social media come with compliance, reputational and security risks. For us, it was important to find a social-media management and compliance partner that could mitigate those risks. Another priority for us was training advisors in the proper use of social networks for business. We chose to work with Socialware after investigating various vendor options and exploring what it would take to build an in-house solution for our broker-dealer network of more than 2,400 financial professionals.

Social media are fraught with potential hazards that can steer individuals and firms out of compliance, even accidentally. Endorsements, in-network messaging, profile updates, content sharing and many other features make social networks precarious for those not familiar with the technology or with Finra and SEC regulations.

Additionally, social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are constantly tweaking their platforms, creating new compliance risks. Our IT and compliance teams needed additional resources to stay ahead of the ever-evolving complexity surrounding social media. We felt our vendor could maintain relationships with both the social networks and regulators as they implement new rules or interpretations for social media.

Another consideration in choosing a compliance partner was whether its technology would impede business, slow down processes, monopolize resources or frustrate users into avoiding it altogether. The Socialware platform provides access to the social-networking sites that advisors are already using, but with guardrails to keep them away from features that breach the firm’s compliance policies. Socialware also provides a marketing platform that gives advisors access to a library of preapproved Voya content, to help engage with contacts and deepen relationships on social media in a sanctioned manner.

From a compliance perspective, we have established processes to avoid unnecessary resource drain and ensure advisors post content in a timely way. We customize rules for what type of content gets routed for compliance review. Advisors’ posts or profile changes on social media are automatically prereviewed.

Choosing a technology partner is only the beginning of implementing a successful social-media program. To get results, this type of initiative requires widespread advisor participation. For advisors, time is money; and the returns need to justify their investment of time. Many advisors need guidance on what content to publish and how to respond to the life events their social networks reveal. Some advisors even require a basic tutorial on how social media work.

This reality led us to develop a certification program for financial advisors to make sure they are on solid footing before embarking on social media. First, every advisor must be “accepted” into the social-media program. We carefully review each advisor’s compliance record, including complaints, discipline, disclosures and any other issues or concerns. After this step, advisors must complete a training course on social-media basics and how to use the Socialware platform.

Voya will soon offer practice-management sessions to help advisors use social profiles effectively, identify potential contacts and prospects, ask for introductions from shared connections and share relevant content to build a following. We will also provide tips for effective time management, monitoring results from social media and judging what types of content work well with specific audiences.

There are many variables when it comes to implementing a social-media program at scale, especially within a complex, regulated industry. Every firm will have slightly different requirements and policies, but ultimately we have found that selecting the right technology partner and investing in a program to encourage adoption are two significant steps toward social-media success.