Manulife Financial: Social selling in financial services — Live from the Brands-Only Summit

Coverage of this session by Bridgette Cude of Connect with her by following her on Twitter.

4:30 —'s Courtney Graham introduces Manulife Financial's Brendan Kenalty.

4:31 — We're going to walk through the last year of our social selling program: Why we did it, how we did it, and the results we've seen.

We were inspired by Susan Emerick from the last Summit. We've followed a lot of the blueprints from her book.

This is about activating people. Getting to know them, using them as assets to reach audiences, filter content, and use their credibility. We're very big on personal branding and trying to help the folks look good online, professional and credible.

4:32 — Manulife is our global name and John Hancock is our US brand. We have over 50,000 employees and agencies. Our team is about 20 people who work on the brand and social selling. And we have a number of constraints in the financial industry.

Why: We got our year-end data last week, and we were impressed by what we saw. We are trying to move from using the brand channels to drive the business and digital metrics, to using the individuals in our company as assets. This is an organic reach chart that shows our growth and the reach we get through people vs brands. The reach through our people is very programmatic, systemic, and proactive. The engagement when our folks are picking their own content to share is 5-10 times more than what we're seeing from the brands sharing.

4:33 — Jason Spencer did a great presentation from Humana — there are a number of people who we've shamelessly borrowed things from. There's a real win-win when your employees feel proud and they get what's in it for them.

When you think of this as an ecosystem or a channel, you do have to take a programmatic approach and have the right governance for content.

How: We learned a lot of these steps from people we spoke to in the industry, but it started with the ability to have our employees on social and activating them. We recruited a business unit of brand advisors who wanted to use social to prospect and grow their client bases. We also hired an expert as the brains and wisdom for this and to help develop a relationship with compliance leadership. Our platform Hearsay also helped pave the way by selling to our executives first.

4:34 — We also started generating scorecards: A simple scorecard that you can share with executives in basic language is so valuable. Then we started sharing about money and showing that we were making money from a channel was really lucky for us and sparked some significant executive interest.

We're always out recruiting other groups to come on board and do this. And once you have these channels opening up, the next question you have is how do we create the content to support these folks?

Now we've just received approval for significant expansion to double the program and investments.

4:35 — This ecosystem is so important: You can't have distribution without content. You're a media company now if you have channels with audiences. More and more these platforms need you to make content. You have to have a cycle of good, insightful content. You have to know your audience and ask yourself, “why would they read this?” You have to think about what their audiences want and what their employees want.

4:36 — One of the big insights we try to use is trends: Google trends, social trends, and making content timely and interesting. Market perspective is very important. We also have a lot of experts on topics around the market. We've built our internal content network of thought leaders and experts on a topic we'd like some intel on. Some examples of ways they've done this: finding experts on the Greece crisis, the Canada housing crisis. We're doing a lot of work to make it easy for our content creators to contribute.

4:37 — We use reach, engagement, selling, tracking lead gen, and business value or sales we can attribute. That's what our senior and C-suite level leaders like to see. We highlight what's going on, use anecdotes, and do a branding exercises to feature our experts.

Education: Continue to require people to be educated about what social is and how it works — especially legal and compliance
Business value: be able to tell that story to leadership
Balanced resource allocation:
Planning and in-market activities
Content and distribution

4:38 — There are three areas where we plan to invest in the future
1. Scorecards and insights
Drive insight as core of content planning
2. Content
Find technology platform to manage your library
3. Distribution
Recruit sales groups to participate
4. Prove Business Value

Q: How do you report leads?

A: Being able to put a flag into Salesforce from social is where we'd like to go. We have a CM managing each of the groups, and a big part of their jobs is to ask them what kinds of content they want, etc. On that call, they ask if they got any business out of it. It's not perfect, but we're getting enough to piece it together.

Q: One concern people have is individuals themselves becoming larger than the brand

A: It's like anything, if you promote someone who works for you, there's a chance they're going to get poached. One of the things Ive gotten from conversations is the value of your experts to build hte brand. We need peple in front of the brand now.

Q: Measurement, Engagement rate: What does it mean to you? Do you somehow factor in reach?

A: Basically you take all of the activity on the post vs the organic reach you sent it out to — your earned media will help your overall engagement rate. A little of that is fine tuning those efforts. (Brendan's team knows the full answer).

Q: How did you pick your pilot group?

A: We've evolved our selection criteria since we picked our pilot group. We went to some of our initial top performers to give them an award or give them a special incentive. But typically, those aren't the hungry people who need more incentive. We don't want to have to convince them every month to use social media. So we ask people who are already excited about social and ready to jump in.

Q: What about FINRA regulations?

A: Just like everything else, they have to document it and follow the guidelines like documentation. We let them know that if they don't feel comfortable with being held to that higher standard then that channel is off limits to them.

Q: Did you have to do any internal selling to get people to see the value?

A: It's an ongoing process. We're trying to do a better job of getting our peer groups to tell other people about the successes they've had in social media. But in every case, some people just opt out. I thin the one thing we've learned is that you can't fight that in the short term. You spend so much energy trying to convince people to get on social media — so that if you can wait to do it in the longer term, it's better for you.