Q&A: Alison Mittelstadt, VP of marketing, E-Trade

Alison Mittelstadt, VP of marketing at E-Trade Financial Corp., discusses how it approaches social media given regulatory obstacles. 

Q: E-Trade has buttressed its advertising with the “Talking Baby” campaign. How has that enabled you to use your YouTube channel as a social marketing tool as opposed to simply a video content storage facility??

A: We’ve encouraged people to make their own versions and to copy and post our spots as their favorites on their own YouTube channels. We see a lot of derivative copies of our own spots around the Internet, and that has helped for virality of this campaign.?

Q: I imagine a primary challenge for E-Trade’s social media marketing is regulation. How do you approach that challenge??

A: It’s probably our number one challenge. In accordance with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority‘s rules governing social media, most of everything that we post on any social network has to be preapproved. That definitely hinders our ability to respond to consumer queries and questions and engage in a true real-time dialogue.

But by anticipating a lot of the commonly asked questions, we are able to have a body of work that is preapproved and enables us to accommodate a spontaneous approach without actually being able to have a true two-way, real-time dialogue.?

Q: Do your customers understand that, because of the regulations, E-Trade can’t respond to all queries as quickly as they might like??

A: I think the fact that we’ve opened up our walls so consumers can engage with one another, that’s in many ways lessened the need and the imperative on us as the brand to respond in real-time, because consumers are in fact engaging so frequently with one another that they’re answering each other’s questions. ?

We try to be current. If we see that there are series of questions on a particular topic, we will do our utmost to get some sort of response out to the market as quickly as we can.?

Q: Are you seeing different consumer demographics when you use your social media channels??

A: The YouTube channel aligns very well with our demographic. It surprisingly skews older and more male. Facebook is very similar. When we first launched our Facebook fan page, we actually did a paid media campaign and we targeted male consumers primarily in that first outreach. ?

Our E-Trade Baby Facebook page, however, skews more female and slightly younger, so that has also been a revelation to see that difference. There are very distinct audience segments because we have more than 85,000 “likes” between the two Facebook pages combined. I think that’s a good thing because it gives us a wider audience and net to cast.

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