The Customer Effect

Inside T. Rowe Price’s Facebook Live strategy

  • Asset management Company T. Rowe Price has joined the line of brand marketers turning to Facebook Live to engage customers.
  • While finance companies face some obstacles keeping Facebook Live content fresh and authentic, analysts expect its use as a marketing tool will increase due to its broad reach across demographic categories.
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Inside T. Rowe Price’s Facebook Live strategy

While Facebook Live has been a boon for brands that emphasize customer experiences such as Dunkin’ Donuts, Benefit Cosmetics and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, finance companies are just beginning to explore its capacity as a marketing tool. Four weeks ago, asset management company T. Rowe Price launched an inaugural Facebook Live video with one of its financial planners. To the company, it’s a way to forge a stronger connection with customers.

“The goal is to create meaningful interactions with clients,” said Meara Ranadive, head of social media at T. Rowe Price, which also happens to be an investor in Facebook. “For T. Rowe Price to succeed in social, we need to be ready to meet the expectations of followers — and that means executing live video.”

The 25-minute live event was a how-to guide on retirement featuring in-house senior financial planner Judith Ward. The video was shot at the premises of IMRE, the marketing agency that led the company’s Facebook Live outreach. Ward took customer questions that were sent through the company’s Facebook page in advance, moderated by Tara Coates, avp and senior editor of retirement and financial education at T. Rowe Price. The discussion focused on how to devise a savings and investment strategy to achieve financial self-sufficiency in retirement. Twenty-eight thousand people tuned in and there were 23 comments.

T. Rowe Price isn’t unique among finance companies dabbling in Facebook Live, with firms using it for a variety of purposes to enhance customer interest and build brand image. For instance, just last month, Charles Schwab live streamed a talk on technology in finance on its Facebook page, and Bank of America hosted a live interview with author and television personality Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Using live video involves additional steps for finance companies, including meeting legal requirements, said Ranadive.

“The considerations are the same as for other brands — we have to be authentic and share meaningful information, but we have some unique challenges in financial services industry, because we have to involve more partners like the legal team.” Ranadive said the effort involved about 10 T. Rowe Price staff members, while the production was handled by IMRE.

Despite the obstacles to delivering live content, analysts in the space expect use of Facebook Live by banks and finance companies to continue, especially since Facebook is no longer a platform used exclusively by young people. And the ability of Facebook Live to keep customers engaged sets it apart from other platforms, with users spending three times more time watching live videos than traditional ones.

Marketers have been drawn to the format since the start, with 50 percent saying that they planned on using live video in 2016, according to Social Media Examiner’s 2016 Social Media Marketing Industry Report.

“The demographic breakdown of Facebook is everything from 13 years of age to over 65,” said Ryan Barr, managing director of Cognito, a marketing firm that specializes in banks and financial services companies. “There’s a savings crisis in the U.S. now and financial services companies have realized that they can help educate different demographics.” 

Barr noted that interactions with a finance company on Facebook Live offer the customer the convenience of not having to leave their home while continuing to feel connected to a bigger community that shares similar concerns about money.

Financial institutions are going to continue to reach customers where they need to be — the best ones are focusing on financial literacy and education, helping customers realize that there’s a path forward for savings and that the individual customer is not alone in the journey.”

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