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Social-to-Email Strategies in a Highly Regulated Era

Recently I brainstormed with a mutual fund CMO about how to use social-to-email marketing within the highly regulated world of financial services. One of the reasons I got out of financial services (mutual funds and ETFs, capital markets, and wealth management), where I spent a decade of my career as a marketer, is because of the increasing restrictions on the sales and marketing departments. Yes, in ways it forced me and my colleagues to get creative, but it also had a dizzying effect over time. 
 
In the US, the reality is that financial advisors are putting themselves at risk of being fined by pushing the limits of FINRA rules. There’s a fine line between networking and a regulator’s definition of advertising. Too many advisors are tweeting stock tips without disclosure, or sounding overly-promissory in just 140 characters. But because social sharing helps expand campaign reach, this marketing channel cannot be ignored (not even by financial companies).
 
It may sound impossible, but what I told her was this: To use social media for enhancing email campaigns, you have to be vague and intriguing at the same time. Engage people, ask questions and then link to the details.

Ask your compliance department if the following example would be safe:
1.       Create an email campaign as you normally do.
2.       Insert a social sharing button for recipients to send to their friends.
3.       Post an abbreviated subject line to your social streams, including a link to the email. No benefits, just a news headline.
4.       The email and landing page will have risk disclosure as usual
5.       Measure social sharing and other analytics as you normally do with email campaigns.
 
The good news is that with email campaigns, sharing a message always accompanies a link to a message and/or landing page. Depending on which slice of the financial industry you’re in, just be careful where you tread and make sure employees understand the rules.


Useful articles about social sharing sites in financial industry are:
http://www.fa-mag.com/fa-news/5695-financial-advisors-breaking-rules-to-use-social-media.html
and
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/06/15/fsa_social_media/

 

 

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