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ITALIAN BANKS: CUSTOMER RELATIONS STRENGTHENED BY SOCIAL MEDIA

9 banks out of 10 have a social media presence.

The main topics include local initiatives and events, promotion of products and services, financial culture, art and shows

90% of Italian banks have a presence on social media. Customer relations and communications are increasingly strengthened through digital channels, also using the potentials offered by social media messaging tools. The “Banks and social media” survey, conducted by the Italian banking association Abi in collaboration with Kpmg Advisory on banks representing 80% of the national banking industry, reveals a particularly lively and highly innovative picture. The study will be presented during the third edition of “Dimensione Social & Web”, the conference dedicated to the innovative communication and marketing tools provided by the Internet and social networks, which will be held in Milan on 11 and 12 October.

The data from the survey highlights a banking world that is dealing with the social media-related phenomena by considering them not only as a simple outward communication channel (made up of conversations, reviews, comments and videos), but also as an important point of contact with customers to fuel, at digital level, the strength that already characterises customer relations in the territory.

A social dimension

Overall, Italian banks are present on average on 5 different channels with varied contents, activities and tools: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn are the most popular social platforms.

Communication becomes direct and personalised

The public section of the social media channel is no longer enough. In some cases, customers also require “personal” communication. 55% of banks with a social media presence use social media messaging tools (Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, Skype and Telegram, in addition to the proprietary chats) to have a direct, dedicated and personalised communication with their current and potential customers.

Brand, financial education and assistance

While image enhancement and service promotions are the main objectives pursued through social media presence, in 2016 Italian banks also heavily invested in making this new channel a useful tool for people to improve their financial culture. A contribution came from the frequent activation of social customer care services, as online assistance allowing customers to find answers to their financial needs, also by accessing the opinions and experiences of customers with similar profiles to theirs.

Photos, images, posts and videos

Fully embracing the dynamism of the social media world, Italian banks constantly update (on average twice a day) their images, providing contents on new activities and initiatives as well as on non-banking issues they are involved in.

Social media have also changed the language used when communicating with people: while text is still present (accounting for 30% of the transmitted content), images and photos are now the main means of communication (with a weight of 42% on the total).

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The topics of conversation

Italian banks’ social media pages mainly concern financial topics and educational initiatives. However, there is also plenty of space devoted to art, culture, shows, sports, tourism and travelling, technology and non-profit initiatives.

Social media bound to increase in the future

Italian banks report that, for the near future, they are working on innovating their communication language by devising educational games, contests and surveys (64% of banks already carries them out or is planning to do so) aimed at improving the financial culture of the public.

The study shows how social media are actually opening a new communication path with the market: more than half of the banks interviewed (55%) do not simply provide information on these channels, but have started a real active, direct and open conversation with users, increasing transparency through an interactive dialogue with the public.

The study also focuses on the most innovative tools being made available by social media: creation of offer groups, chatbots (robotic software programmes that can respond to customers’ simplest requests), event previews and live streaming are among the functions planned by 36% of banks for the future.