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Forging relationships: How CME Group uses social media

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Brands & Campaigns

Today’s Q-and-A is with Allan Schoenberg, director of corporate communications at CME Group. Schoenberg and his team help manage the development and execution of global corporate communications for the exchanges, which includes issues such as management, media relations, crisis management, social media, message development, international initiatives and broadcast/digital communications.

What are CME Group’s goals for using Twitter?

We started using Twitter early — August 2008. So in terms of a brand using this channel to reach out to our audiences, I think we were an early adopter. As a [business-to-business] company, and in a niche sector of financial services, we primarily use Twitter for relationship building.

This is not an instant sales channel for us, and it was never thought of in that way. For us, building relationships is accomplished by asking and answering questions and posting relevant information. From day one, we knew that Twitter was a tool used to talk with, not talk to, other people. So our overall goal from Twitter is to support our brand attributes and help to not only build advocacy but also help build relationships.

How do you use Twitter? Do you engage with your followers?

We have several guidelines when it comes to using Twitter. I don’t want to reveal too much, but we certainly believe it is a key engagement tool. One of our guidelines is that we post information that is relevant to our audience — not us. I am a believer in the 70/30 rule of content — 70% of the information will be about trends, issues or the economy and is likely to be indirectly about our markets; the other 30% of content will be information about the exchange, such as a big news announcement, an event of ours or something unique that people may find interesting.

We also have created our own interview stream with our partner StockTwits. Every few weeks, we interview live on Twitter someone who would be valued by our audience — a trader, reporter, blogger, investor. The stream is archived here and we have a Twitter list of everyone we’ve interviewed here.

How has CME Group benefited from this channel?

I think it has benefited from an educational standpoint. We’ve been able to help reach a broader audience in the investment community, as well as key influencers who may or may not have written about us. Twitter also gives people instant access to the exchange and they know we’ll respond to their comments and questions. That builds a lot of social currency for us in the short and long term, and it’s the right thing to do.

Twitter was never a one-way communication vehicle for us, and that has made a huge difference in terms of leaving an impression on people who follow the exchange. I would also say that it’s made the people who help me with Twitter smarter about the company and markets, since so much of what we do as an exchange — and Twitter — is tied to news and the global economy. We have to stay aware of what’s going on.

It’s also helped us become better communicators as we have all added social media as part of our strategies and tactics. There’s a lot of excitement and intrigue around the company about social media, and that’s great to see from our perspective internally as we help others understand the benefits.

How did you develop a social-media strategy considerate of legal and regulatory constraints?

That’s a great question and one I get often, considering that we exist in a highly regulated industry and, as a publicly traded company, we are regulated by the [Securities and Exchange Commission]. The key for me and my team in this area has always been about having strong internal relationships. We already enjoy a good relationship with our legal team since we work with them so often on news-related items. Having that trust and respect from the beginning helped.

We have worked closely with our legal team to develop and update our employee disclosure policies to include social media since we started in 2007 with Facebook. And as members of the Social Media Business Council, we added one person from our legal team to the distribution list so they can see the types of questions and discussions from other companies. I would also add that you should not forget to loop in your information-security team. They play a key role in every organization in terms of what comes in and out of the firewall. Because we established a relationship with them early, they have become a great resource for me and my team.

Want to learn more best practices for social media for financial-services companies? Check out SmartBrief’s next webinar on June 8, Building Equity: Social Media Meets Finance, with industry social-media pioneers including Mark Story from the SEC, Amy Dobra from The Vanguard Group, social-media maven Shiv Singh from Razorfish and Amy Sochard from FINRA.