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Social media in financial services

Social media in financial services

By Henk Campher, Vice President Corporate Marketing, Hootsuite 

Finance and social media do not naturally go hand in hand. The financial industry is historically known for old systems, red tape, and outdated practices. Think long queues in the bank or pressing numerous options on the phone, only to reach an automated response—the polar opposite to the short, snappy and direct to consumer approach, taken on social media.

Times have changed, and online is where real conversations are happening. Many people have banking apps downloaded on their phones as an easy way to access their accounts, but while financial institutions are beginning to understand digital from a product level, many aren’t using it to its full potential. Although some banks are starting to roll out customer service chats on Facebook messenger and other third-party messaging apps, there is still a way to go before social is fully utilised in the finance industry. Easy communication is what customers want and with banks moving to digital, it’s time that their methods of communication followed suit. However, there are a number of considerations like tone of voice, safety of data and authenticity of content, that need to be taken seriously to get social right in this space.

Reaching customers where they are.

Whether you’re worried about a lack of it or want to make the most of what you have—money is a sensitive topic. People want personal interactions with those who hold their money, but they also want it to be easy. This is where social can help.

However, there may be some limitations. Customers are unlikely to apply for a mortgage on social media, but given the decline in high street banks, people want to be able to have their questions answered quickly and efficiently. Both private and public channels of communication are extremely important in these cases. Content with wide emotional appeal is best for public channels like Twitter, where a bank can land its big messages or promote its latest campaigns.  Whilst on private channels, like facebook chat, it’s all about building those deeper personal connections. Private chats will allow banks to reach their customer instantly and respond to any queries or concerns they may have. They are also best for one-on-one conversations, giving the customer the feeling that they can talk to their bank with the same ease they’d feel chatting to a friend. Likewise, a well-executed public feed will help customers get to know their bank, on a medium they are likely to engage with on a regular basis. To increase customer engagement, expand customer bases and provide more user-friendly and efficient services, financial institutes have to have a clear strategy for both channels.

Finding out what your customers think of you on social – the good, the bad and the ugly 

It is a two-way street when it comes to social engagement and the benefits it brings. Banks and financial institutions can use social media to gauge how the public feels about them. For example, the likes of HSBC and Nationwide have started to really promote ‘personality’ in their TV ads, bringing an emotional, ‘people first’ approach to the masses. This is always a difficult, but rewarding, balancing act and social is a really powerful tool to support this level of engagement by reading public opinion. You can instantly tell if a marketing campaign or ad is getting a good or bad reaction by taking to Twitter, where people will readily share their opinions on whether they love it or hate it. It is great to see banks becoming more ‘real’ in their ads and it’s a prime opportunity for their social channels to live up to and support their brand.

It is important to ensure that if you’re going to use social media as part of your communications that it be monitored regularly to provide a quick response time. It is also imperative you have clear messaging in place for how you will react to customer’s enquiries, issues, praise and unavoidably – complaints. There have been many social media teams that have done a stellar job of responding to issues, like the Yorkshire tea/Rishi Sunak tweet gate (“Sue, you are shouting at tea” was a great way to defuse a difficult situation). The challenge for banks will be determining the right tone of professionalism and seriousness, as when it comes to people’s money – humour can fall flat.

Getting social to pay its way for finance institutions 

The first step in getting to know your customer base is by using social data to create a holistic view. This will support all departments across the financial institution to understand the customers’ individual needs and enable them to tailor services and communications accordingly. To create this view, social data must be integrated with existing analytics platforms such as Adobe Analytics, CRM systems such as Salesforce, and customer experience platforms such as Adobe Experience Manager. Joining these sources of data together to create wider insights will allow financial businesses to better adapt to the ever changing needs of the customer.

 It is also important to note that creating relevant and relatable content will be a step change for many organisations. This is why experimentation is critical. While you can’t always get it spot on, you do need an open mind trying new things, exploring new trends, and measuring the approach. In a world where legacy financial brands are looking for new ways to appeal to audiences and compete with the newer and more nimble start-ups like Monzo and Revolut, social isn’t the silver bullet but it’s certainly an increasingly important customer engagement channel that banks should seriously consider.

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