A private banking group opens up on social
Julius Baer Group AG is a private banking corporation headquartered in Zürich, Switzerland, with 60 locations in almost 30 countries.
Swiss banking group Julius Baer sparks new conversations and builds brand reach with a creative digital strategy powered by employee advocacy
Picture a brand with a vibrant presence on digital and social channels. They publish videos and podcasts on topics ranging from philanthropy and the future of food to NFTs and the metaverse. And they’re growing in popularity, thanks in large part to their employees, who actively share this content with their own social networks.
At this point, it’s safe to say you probably weren’t picturing one of the oldest banks in Switzerland. But although Zurich-based wealth management group Julius Baer may have arrived fashionably late to the social media party, the company hasn’t remained in business for 130 years by standing still or doing what’s expected of it.
“We started rather late, in 2017, with Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube,” explains Andreas Thomann, head of publications and social media at Julius Baer. “A year later, we added Instagram and Facebook. Today, our total number of followers across all channels has reached 170,000, with LinkedIn as our strongest channel.”
The company knew that social media would help with expanding brand awareness and provide another outlet for its voice. Proud of being an innovative and tech-savvy bank, it was also keen to connect in new ways with its customers—and stay ahead of the competition.
Searching for a social media management tool and partner to help it expand its social media presence while ensuring all communications complied with regulatory requirements, Julius Baer turned to Hootsuite.
- 4,600posts shared on employee social channels since the program launch
- 5.3 millionimpressions on LinkedIn from employee posts
- 12,500clicks to website from employee posts (equivalent of 160,000 CHF in ad value)
What they did
Julius Baer did its due diligence and searched the market for the right social media tool. Hootsuite Enterprise ticked all the boxes.
“Besides the technical features, we appreciated the fact that Hootsuite was familiar with the very regulated financial industry,” says Thomann. “That helped us to speed up the process and ensure a swift implementation in our own environment.”
Two years later, when Julius Baer was looking for the right employee advocacy tool, Hootsuite was again the partner of choice. Adding Hootsuite Amplify to the company’s existing toolkit proved much easier than implementing a completely new tool, without making any compromises on features or ease of use. To help in the launch of its employee advocacy initiative at the start of 2022, Julius Baer enlisted the support of Hootsuite partner Lobeco, a social media agency based in Zurich, Munich and Shanghai.
How they did it
From the start, the team decided to manage its owned social content in-house, while enlisting a content partner for help creating advocacy content for employees to share.
“The Enterprise platform is something we always managed ourselves,” says Fabio Kobel, deputy head of social media at Julius Baer. “The content is produced by our in-house team. But then when it comes to employee advocacy and Amplify, we have Lobeco to support us with content development and strategy.”
“We communicate with Lobeco almost daily about what needs to be done, what we need help with, and what our ideas are,” adds Claudine Landolt, social media and community manager at Julius Baer. “We need one new post daily and that’s just not possible with our own resources.”
On average, Lobeco creates about five content pieces per week for employees to share. To reduce complexity in planning its content calendar, the group focuses primarily on producing evergreen content. It’s a strategy that’s working, with over 350 users (out of 500 registered) posting regularly.
Banking on employees to spread the word
From the very beginning, employee advocacy was a global initiative that didn’t simply focus on the Swiss head office.
“We divided the entire company into 20 groups,” explains Thomann. “And then we did the Hootsuite onboarding ourselves. It was a one-hour training session—but because the tool is so simple, we only needed five minutes to explain how to use it. So, we took the opportunity to provide some social media training, give advice on best practices, and raise awareness of our guidelines.”
Juliana Bonfá, relationship manager at Julius Baer in São Paulo—and one of the most prolific social media users at the company—knows the importance of brand awareness.
“Beyond São Paulo, we have a lot of potential clients but not a lot of brand recognition,” explains Bonfá. “The more I use social media, the easier it is to grow awareness of the brand. And the fact that the platform has the auto-schedule function is super helpful because I can have everything programmed and not worry about when I need to post. It's very practical.”
Investing in ideas
After just one year using Hootsuite Amplify, the company has seen the reach of its ambassadors on LinkedIn grow to more than double that of its brand channel. It’s not surprising that 350 active brand ambassadors can reach a much larger audience than a single brand channel—especially given the rich ecosystem of content Julius Baer provides for ambassadors to share.
The breadth of topics is impressive: everything from NFTs and the metaverse through the YOLO economy to the future of food. Predicting which of these topics will resonate with the investment world can be a challenge, making engagement tracking and data a vital part of the company’s content strategy and planning. “It all depends on the story and how it’s told, not so much on the category,” comments Thomann.
The advocates are really the most authentic brand promoters out there, and this has been very successful for us.
Paying it forward
In addition to financial and business topics, Julius Baer uses its fast-growing social media reach to highlight its philanthropy, foundation, and art patronage, shining a spotlight on promising or accomplished artists and charitable causes.
Thomann and the team have found that audiences connect more to Julius Baer when it's talking about more personal themes, or about the company’s own employees. “On LinkedIn, there are a lot of things that sound rather artificial or corporate,” explains Thomann. “But when we add people, when we have our employees talking about their own experiences and how that relates, then it really creates a connection.”
Bringing these voices into the conversation even enables the group to weigh in on topics other financial institutions might hesitate to address. A key example is the topic of wealth inequality, which is the key focus of Julius Baer’s own foundation.
“The topic might sound surprising for a bank serving wealthy individuals,” says Thomann. “But it shows that there is a growing concern among these individuals that societies become fragile with increasing inequality.”
Julius Baer will keep relying on employee advocacy. “The engagement within the bank and the feedback that we got really showed that this is the way forward,” says Kobel. “The advocates are the most authentic brand promoters out there, and this has been very successful for us.”
The company hopes to continue reaping the benefits of an unexpected perk of the Amplify program: more connection between employees. “We always invite people to give feedback or tell us if they have a story to share,” explains Kobel. “And we’re now much closer to people that we wouldn't have met or worked with normally. It's really created more connections between us.”
In addition to cultivating the program and new relationships inside and outside the company, Julius Baer plans to increase the scope of the work it’s doing. Kobel points out that as interest in the platform continues to grow, the company will be onboarding more employees: “Almost on a weekly basis, we have new people knocking on our door.”