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In France, Hearsay Social & Efma bring banks and insurance firms up to speed on social business

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“You can use social media to turn strangers into friends, friends into customers, and customers into salespeople.” — Seth Godin, author, entrepreneur, marketer, and public speaker

HSS_France-01Earlier this month, Hearsay Social and our associate partner Efma organised a roundtable breakfast event, bringing together leading professionals from the banking and insurance sectors to discuss the latest successes and growing stakes in social media.

With digitalisation becoming a top priority for businesses, the meeting’s aim was to discuss the best ways to assist brokers, salespeople and advisers in optimizing and developing their networks and social network activities.

In a welcoming and original venue, the Atelier du France on the bank of the river Seine, guests exchanged ideas on the digitalisation stakes in their sectors, whilst enjoying a sun-filled view over the water.

The participants, who were grouped around tables named after the most popular social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, etc.), started by discussing a couple open questions: “How can social media help your organization increase their activity and what are the potential challenges?”

Here were some of the best answers:

  • Organisations need to understand the behavioural changes brought about by social media if they are going to take advantage of these platforms. For example, they must be more transparent, prepared to engage with other social users, ready to accept they will have less control than they are used to with other marketing channels and willing to understand how to utilise big data.
  • There is a necessity to train advisers and brokers in the use of social networks.
  • Marketing teams also need to expand their skillsets, particularly when it comes to content marketing.
  • Assessments must be made to fully understand the long-term investment requirements and potential ROI of any social media project.

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Olivier Maire (Sales Director France, Hearsay Social, @olivier_maire) also introduced representatives from two of our client companies, BNP Paribas Wealth Management and Allianz France:

Thierry Derungs (Chief Digital Officer of Monde chez BNP Paribas Wealth Management, @ThierryDerungs) presented on his organisation’s digital strategy. He explained how it was first undertaken two years ago and how it has since been integrated into the organisation’s core strategy:

  • Key takeaway: studies show that 68% of clients which leave do so because they feel that they are not looked after; social networks are therefore essential to strengthen relationships.
  • Challenges:
    – Fostering ‘management change’ inside the company, and convincing the board of importance of social networks.
    – Adapting digital communication to international markets in a coherent way.
  • Putting the plan into practice:
    – Creation of a ‘Lab’ that gives employees the chance to experiment with new channels.
    – Setting up an information sharing network between countries, to avoid content duplication and to ensure local production according to local expertise.
    – Common charters and instruction kits for every country.
    – Launch of a Relationship Manager pilot scheme with individual presence on networks.

Karine Lazimi (Digital Experiments Manager at Allianz France, @karinelazimi) presented the origins of digital client relations at Allianz: how the firm had developed alongside its clients by adapting its network of brokers and advisers to the use of social networks:

  • Key takeaway: the client forms a relationship with a broker/adviser, with whom he/she is likely to connect on networks.
  • Challenges:
    – Making brokers/advisers and managers aware of today’s transformation in client relationships, and educating them in the use of social networks.
    – Necessity to ensure brand integrity on social networks, whilst accepting less than full control.
    – Time taken to train brokers, assessors, etc.
  • Putting the plan into practice:
    – October/November 2013: kick-off with a few brokers
    – December 2013: training of assessors
    – April 2014: acceleration of plan and more voluntary brokers
    – June 2014: training of a group of extra brokers
    – September 2014: LinkedIn launch with financial advisers
    – October 2014: Allianz strengthen their presence on social networks: increasing the number of agents on Facebook thanks to the support of Hearsay Social solution

Next, Olivier Maire explained the four key stages to success for sales platforms on social media:

  1. Be findable
  2. Grow your network
  3. Do your research
  4. Establish your credibility

Olivier underlined the fact that a presence on social networks should not alter the relationship manager’s role, which has always been to build up a loyal client base that will provide positive recommendations to others. The networks are simply a means of operating on a large scale, in an ‘industrial’ way. This approach has three benefits:

  • More client contact: advisers multiply the number of people they can keep in contact with
  • More recommendations: a satisfied client shares his/her opinions with friends, family and personal contacts
  • More leads: 10-20% increase in new business

The session finished with a Q&A session linked to the participants’ debates on the importance of social networks for boosting their sales. Also discussed were the benefits for clients in being voluntarily connected to his/her adviser and the privacy issues around networks such as Facebook.

All participants expressed a real interest in the digitalisation of their organisations. At the same time, they voiced their doubts and queries, whilst confirming the obvious benefits of social network tools. To make the event more fun, prizes were presented to the person who had most tweeted using hashtag #HSParis2014 during the session, to the first to ask a question, and to a lucky winner whose business card was drawn out of a hat.

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