Enhance transparency, loyalty through social media: ING

February 19, 2013 | Last updated on February 19, 2013
3 min read

ING Direct’s leader, Peter Aceto, has been labeled “The Social CEO.”

He sees leveraging social media as one of the main ways Canadian businesses can grow and outpace their global competition.

And this exactly what our country needs, said Aceto at an Economic Club luncheon last week.

Read: ING Direct does the Harlem Shake

He asked attendees to further consider that Canada slipped from 12th to 14th on the World Economic Forum’s latest global competitiveness survey. The Globe and Mail reports we’ve slid fives places since 2009, due to the lackluster innovation and research efforts across the nation.

Though Canada is one of the world’s top countries due to its efficient markets and a strong banking sector, says Aceto, “good [global standing] is not good enough anymore.”

Companies have find ways to build customer loyalty, entice young recruits and expand their businesses. This is especially true in the financial sector, which is suffering as a result of scandals and volatile markets.

Read: Let advisors speak their minds

For his part, Aceto’s worked to position ING Direct as an accessible bank. He has a personal Twitter account with more than 11,000 followers, and often communicates directly with customers and staff to get feedback on the company.

Read: How to encourage better ideas

He hopes more execs will join him online, so he can offer more in-depth information about the bank’s policies and processes. For example, if he gets questions about specific online banking features, he’d like someone from IT to respond.

“The business world is changing and there’s a greater demand for transparency and information [about companies],” says Aceto. “Interacting on social platforms absolutely impacts the bottom line.”

He adds, “Traditional [marketing] strategy is dead. Why passively listen to feedback and questions [about your business] when you can participate in the customer discussion?”

If you’re not using social media, you’re making a statement, he warns. Clients and recruits will notice you don’t offer competitive online services and communication when either comparing different firms and looking for a good employer.

Aceto concedes the financial sector is highly regulated, which makes it riskier to incorporate daring, new marketing strategies. He makes sure never to offer advice or mention specific products.

Read: Regulation doesn’t stifle social media

Instead, he says advisors looking to build their followings can start by simply posting relevant articles and surveys on media social accounts. They can also blog about topics that concern their clients, or host and follow scheduled Twitter discussions and forums their clients may be a part of.

For instance, there was a discussion about why people like their banks on Twitter recently, so he logged in to follow it and get a glimpse of why customers stick with certain service providers.

Read: Blogs enhances your online presence

Advisors only need to post or schedule content 4-5 times a day, and they should also create original content regularly, says Aceto.

And if you’re not a great writer or are short on time, don’t worry. He says he often has a member of ING’s social marketing team interview him on a topic and then write up his comments as a blog post. He reviews the final piece before posting to ensure it’s authentic to his voice.

When you encounter negative comments or client reviews, Aceto reminds it’s important to figure out whether you’re dealing with an Internet troll or real customer. Then, respond as you see fit and don’t be afraid to end the conversation before it harms your online reputation.

Read: Social media: Where businesses build and defend reputations