Julie Atherton, Chief Strategy Officer at Indicia and member of the DMA Social Media Council
Social media offers brands the chance to connect with customers and prospects on a personal level whilst also allowing them to build strong relationships through genuine one-to-one communication.
So why have financial services (FS) brands been so slow to join the party?
FS brands face unique challenges when using social media as the platform’s transparency and openness can sometimes seem at odds with the regulatory environment. Despite improvements since 2008, FS remains the least trusted industry worldwide. And as so much of the communication between customers and organisations in this sector hinges on privacy and security, staying away from social media might seem like a safer play.
Yet while FS brands shouldn’t enter social media communications lightly, enter they must. More of us are conducting at least some of our financial affairs on the go through mobile banking and home budgeting apps, while half of us who use Facebook access the site from our mobiles.
As a member of the DMA Social Media Council, I have interviewed two pioneers in the industry to find out how they are using social, whilst also challenging the widespread caution about using the channel by demonstrating incredible results already achieved.
My first interview was with Peter Markey, who is the chief marketing officer of the RSA Group and responsible for its 20 million customers in over 30 markets worldwide. Peter knows his customers are talking about his brand and he knows they want real time responses to their problems.
The brand’s strong presence on social and smart social media activities is helping it boost its brand reputation while fundamentally changing the way it markets its products and services. As Peter says “FS brands can’t afford not be visible on social and if you’re not talking about your brand you can be sure someone else.”
However it’s not just global FS brands that stand to gain; local firms who master the art of social can extend their reach far beyond the geographical limits of their business.
My second interview was with Pete Matthews, managing director of Jacksons Wealth Management, a small FS firm based in Penzance. He believes the key to social media success is to give value, keep giving value, listen to people and then act on what they are saying. “The clue is in the name – social – people want to connect with you. If you’re faceless, bland and just keep pumping out information people won’t want to connect with you. They want to get to know you, like you, follow you and eventually…trust you.”