Monday, September 26th, 2016 | 7 min read
The morning after Match.com went public, Josh Machiz, Nasdaq’s director of integrated marketing, used Sprinklr to document the moment on the stock exchange’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts with a few taps on his phone. The task was easy, but hard to believe for a company operating in the highly regulated financial sector.
As many marketers know, social media isn’t always easy to navigate, especially given the pace at which technologies and strategies change. But it is particularly tough in heavily regulated industries, in which every tweet is subject to edits and rounds of approval that can cause setbacks and publishing delays.
Nasdaq has bucked the trend.
The social team has worked hard to gain an impressive 2 million followers, but there was a time when the company didn’t have much of a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and other channels. In an interview with Sprinklr, Machiz reveals how the company was able to build a loyal fanbase by listening to what its customers wanted, using powerful technology, and a willingness to experiment and learn.
Nasdaq’s social media strategy began when Machiz was working as part of the company’s PR team. At the time, his job had nothing to do with social, but he realized that there was a huge opportunity to grow a loyal following via the emerging platforms.
“I decided to just take a risk,” Machiz said. “I grabbed the keys to an Instagram account that had long been lost and forgotten, and I just slowly started taking over. Channel by channel. Idea by idea.”
From Twitter to Facebook, from Google Plus to Tumblr, Machiz received executive approval for each channel by providing compelling reasons (and metrics) to justify his push for social.
“Much of this was done by PowerPoint presentations and proposals, like you would normally expect,” Machiz said. “But I also encouraged our Nasdaq leaders to try social media on their own. I got them personally invested in these channels and that made a huge difference.”
As Nasdaq’s social media strategy matured, one of the most difficult tasks the company had to take on was an audit of Nasdaq’s entire digital presence.
Over the years, dozens of social accounts were created to support ad-hoc campaigns. While valuable in the short-term, those environments were eventually forgotten. Poorly managed and left to their own devices, they were no longer an accurate reflection of Nasdaq’s brand, which meant they had the potential to be damaging in the long run.
During the audit, Machiz and his team thought long and hard about what to keep and what to let go. They made the decision to retire 15 accounts – some of which had an active following.
“It’s very difficult to look through your audience and say ‘this is worth abandoning,’” Machiz said. “But we knew it was a critical step in our maturity.”
Part of Nasdaq’s social media audit also involved revisiting their technology.
“We started off with a very small tool called Sprout Social. It was great for the first few months and then we needed to manage more than the few networks that they actually supported,” Machiz said. “Then we grew to Adobe Social, which was actually fairly decent but the platform didn’t evolve quickly enough for us.”
After outgrowing point solution after point solution, Nasdaq decided to search for a technology partner that could support them for the long haul.
“There are a lot of players in the space and we wanted to make sure we had the right one,” Machiz said. “It took a long time for us to get there.”
The team’s decision ultimately came down to scale.
“We picked Sprinklr for many reasons, but scalability was a big deciding factor,” Machiz said. “Social is such a fast-paced environment that your technology needs to evolve as quickly as the channels that you support.”
Today, Nasdaq has 2 million followers across 12 channels and 52 accounts.
Much of this success comes down to the unique, engaging, and relevant content Nasdaq produces. Each channel at Nasdaq has a mix of its own unique content and a voice catering to the audience on that specific network.
On Facebook, where the company has more than 600,000 followers, the social team uses Facebook Live to educate the audience on timely matters impacting the financial industry. On Twitter, the team might post an inspirational photo with a quote card and applicable hashtags. On Snapchat and Instagram, the approach changes once again and influencers are invited to take over the brand’s channels.
The social media team has a different recipe for each channel. This strategy reflects Machiz’s belief that companies should base their approach around what customers actually want to see.
“It’s all about realizing that different channels attract different people,” Machiz said. ”The individuals engaging with you on Snapchat won’t be the same ones following on Twitter, so you have to adjust the way you communicate as you switch platforms.”
Nasdaq’s approach to social can be summed up in two words: customer first. This means everything they do considers how it will bring value to customers.
The Nasdaq social team works to engage their fans as much as possible. If a follower asks a good question during a Facebook Live event, for example, the team might feature their photo on the Nasdaq tower in Times Square, or dedicate a future episode to that topic.
But it doesn’t stop there. Nasdaq also uses these social media interactions to unearth opportunities for creating systemic changes within the organization.
“If somebody doesn’t like something about one of our products, then we go back and figure out what went wrong, and we dedicate ourselves to making things better,” Machiz said. “We’re using social to make strategic decisions that are based on putting our customers first.”
It took years of hard work, trial and error, and habitual risk-taking to get to where Nasdaq is on social media. And the journey still continues.
What’s ahead for Nasdaq in the next few years? New channels, more experimentation, and self-inflicted disruption.
“You have to invent and reinvent yourself almost every day,” Machiz said. “The industry is quickly evolving and, to keep up, you can’t be afraid to disrupt yourself.”