Social Media Marketing in the Financial World

By Kelly Robinson, Spring 2016 Student Intern

In an earlier blog post we spoke about the automation of investing and how people, millennials especially, are moving away from visiting brick and mortar investment firms and instead using their tablets and smart phones as investment tools. But how does this shift in technology allow regulatory authorities, like FINRA, to not only reach and inform, but also appeal to this financially inexperienced demographic?

FINRA has taken the first steps by releasing a series of four amusing commercials outlining several important activities that you wouldn’t undertake without checking out first, to promote their BrokerCheck tool. For example, ordering food from a restaurant you’ve never been to before (check out this and their other ads here). The message is simple: checking out your broker is as easy as checking out restaurant reviews online. Considering that online reviews have become the first step to taking the plunge into a new product/restaurant/fad; (in fact creating a whole industry of paid) this is a great way to appeal to younger generations.

But still, these are commercials and millennials are constantly on their phones. So FINRA has also released a series of digital ads highlighting the same message as above. The ads appear as the rectangular banners you see at the top and bottom of websites as well as the square badges that you tend to see towards the left and right edge of the webpage. Using simple yet eye-popping colors and designs, FINRA has again conveyed a simple, yet effective message.

What will be interesting to see is if (or when) FINRA starts to integrate these messages into social media. If you have the phone applications Instagram or Snapchat, you may already be familiar with sponsored ads, where the company uses the format of the application to promote their message. For Instagram, this may be a filtered photo of a location or product with hashtags to describe what it is you’re looking at. For Snapchat, this may come in the form of a story (a series of pictures and videos outlining the activity) or advertisements in between your friends’ stories. The appeal of both of these forms of media is that the consumer may not be aware they are looking at an ad until they investigate further.

As we move further into the digital age, I believe we will see a lot more of this type of advertising. We will begin to see less of the stiff TV commercials outlining the achievements of the firm to more entertaining commercials designed to hold the consumers’ attention. Firms and those who regulate them, will both have to stay in front of these new avenues with new and creative ways to attract the younger generations.