Being Human on Social Media to drive real ROI

By Rob Coyne, General Manager EMEA, Hootsuite 

‘Being different’ and ‘taking risks’ are not phrases you would normally associate with established financial services companies. Social media networks like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter were traditionally held at arm’s length by companies in banking and insurance, due in part to the bureaucracy across the sector. However, in an online world and as social channels have exploded in popularity, this has meant that many financial services organisations have been slow to embrace the benefits that come with being socially mature. And the associated impact this has had on customer experience and lead generation cannot be ignored.

For financial services companies wishing to harness the advantages that successful social media management can bring, it means going back to basics and recreating a strategy that works with other existing channels that currently drive revenue for the business. Investing in technology can help with this, as well as assist how the organisation digitally adapts the way it reaches customers at every touchpoint to advance its digital evolution.

Content with a purpose

In our latest Social Media Trends for Financial Services and Insurance report, we found that 53 percent of financial services marketers found posts promoting brand awareness performed the best as a content type on social. However, when asked their top measurement challenge, 58 percent struggle to prove that content “drives revenue.” An organisation’s approach to measurement and tracking results needs to be far more strategic. It’s not about seeing what has worked well, and then proving the return-on-investment (ROI) with ad-hoc data gathering of vanity metrics such as likes and shares. It’s crucial to start with desired business outcomes first, and then decide on the tactics of how the organisation will achieve them.

Doing social well means aligning the strategy with other high-performing revenue channels such as email, paid media and website optimisation. These channels are often measured well and the results are clear, but organisations can often struggle seeing the ROI of social media. Other objectives such as lowering recruitment costs, mitigating risks and improving overall brand health are some easier ways to prove the value of social for the business.

Demonstrating the value of social

Accurately measuring ROI is an important step to demonstrating the value of social, as well as gaining the buy-in from the executive team, especially those who have been traditionally reluctant to embrace social media. To maximise on the opportunity that social provides, means looking at ways to bring in other aspects of the business to strengthen its value.

From content management and analytics, to compliance and CRM platforms, many organisations overlook the potential to integrate these with social media data. Treating the platforms separate to social limits how much the organisation can truly understand and know their customers. Integrating social data with existing analytics platforms such as Adobe Analytics, or a CRM system such as Salesforce, or even a customer experience platform like Adobe Experience Manager gives teams the detailed insights needed to improve each touchpoint of the customer journey. This approach will not only help demonstrate the real ROI of social, but help consolidate costs when the organisation is trying to get more value from existing platforms.

However, combining platforms and departments can create concerns among the compliance teams. With too many teams and departments involved in any one process can mean mistakes are missed or overlooked, and with social media so public, it opens the organisation to more risks than ever. The issue here is that it’s equally risky to not be on social media. No presence online means there’s very little control over what’s being said. Twitter accounts may impersonate the company’s executives, or non-compliant content could be shared by advisors. By joining together teams, platforms and social media, the organisation is in a greater position to manage the risks of being online and ensure that content that is shared, and how it’s posted, and engaged with by the customer is relevant, compliant and accurate.

Getting personal

With team buy-in and cross-collaboration, what’s being said online and across social media to customers is critical to an organisation’s customer journey being seamless and relevant. Social networks are designed to be spaces where people can be themselves and have natural conversations with one another. For a financial services organisation to fill this space with legacy compliance talk and marketing jargon will kill the entire premise of why social media exists in the first place. In fact, early last year Facebook updated its algorithm to prioritise content from friends and family over that of businesses and brands. Continuing to share corporate, and unengaging content in light of this, will only alienate customers further from connecting with the organisation. Winning over the hearts and minds of customers on social media calls for more creative and human messaging which will only be made easier with the data and insights from an organisation that doesn’t work in silos.

Whilst social media has often been tiptoed around by financial service organisations, it’s clear that in recent years many are warming up to the idea. However, many organisations are clearly lacking in social maturity and often approach it as an afterthought, rather than a core strategic driver for revenue. By integrating existing platforms like CRM systems and analytics, the customer journey can be refined and adjusted to help bring financial services closer to their goal of a digital ecosystem, and social media is a key player in this.