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How Vanguard mixes finance with social media

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Brands & Campaigns

Today’s Q-and-A is with Amy Dobra,  a principal at The Vanguard Group and head of Vanguard’s Retail Client Experience Group, which focuses on integrating the retail client experience across online, print and social media channels, including Facebook. She is responsible for Vanguard’s early entrance into social media, handling her team’s multifaceted approach, working with business managers and the legal and compliance groups.

Vanguard took an interdepartmental approach to social media when you first set out. How did that work, and how has that benefited the company in the long run?

The original partnership set the tone for how we approach the channel.  We don’t need to keep convincing supporting departments of the value of social media; they were with us and helped to create the strategy — they get it.  It also created clear accountability from the start.  We all know we have a part to play to make this a success for our clients and Vanguard and we’re on the hook to develop the processes and to communicate with each other regularly.

Why does Vanguard choose to use some social mediums and not others?

We have never believed that there is a one-size fits all approach to communications.  That’s why we keep evolving and expanding our channels.  We also try hard to stay away from the check-the-box approach to services.  Just because something is new and shiny doesn’t mean it’s going to fill a need or create value for our clients.  We are looking at many different communication platforms, and when we have the confidence it’s a place we can add value, then you’ll likely see us there.

Vanguard uses its social channels to communicate to the community but not to engage with them. Why is this the strategy, and how has it proven effective?

Engaging in the social place, it’s a little more tricky.  First off, we are in a highly regulated industry and there has been a lack of clarity regarding the rules of engagement.  Even though FINRA issued guidance this past January, there is still much that is unknown.  Also, the expectations (from users of social sites) are a bit different and companies need to be careful that they really understand the protocol and don’t end up interfering with the conversation.  We love the fact that there are forums out there that spend a lot of time talking about our company, what we stand for and what we offer, and that it’s been done without any intervention from us.  That space is authentic and real.  With all of that said, we keep looking for ways to better engage so don’t be surprised if you see more in this area from Vanguard, it’s a natural extension for who we are and how we want to connect with our clients.

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 Amy Dobra from The Vanguard Group, Mark Story from the SEC, social media maven Shiv Singh from Razorfish and newly added Amy Sochard from FINRA.