Financial Services Social Media Marketing: Listening Isn’t Enough anymore

Social networks are growing at pace; by 2017, the global social network audience is expected to total 2.55 billion. Many financial services firms have responded to this shift by using social media to listen to their customers and monitor their brands, but they are not yet using it to generate tangible business benefits.

Accenture research found that in the UK, the percentage of customers willing to give personal information to their bank in exchange for better value of tailored services more than doubled from 2012 to 2014. This presents huge new opportunities to create additional revenue and increase customer loyalty through more personal interactions.

With advances in optimization tools, analytics and software, social media is now much more a science than and art. Organisations should be harnessing the power of analytics, and integrating social media insights holistically into the company’s marketing strategy by understanding the relevant social audience and the organisation’s goals and limits; mapping customer needs to a social experience that the organisation can deliver; and enabling the organisation with the right capabilities to execute. By doing so, financial services firms can;

Drive organic growth: Social media offers new customer information such as personal attitudes, hobbies and needs that can enhance customer insight and move marketing toward delivering personalised sales and service experience

Increase operating efficiency: By seamlessly integrating current customer service workflows with social media components, financial services companies are already able to leverage the crowd effect, exploiting the potential of user-generated content such as in Q&A platforms. Financial institutions can also employ a resource sharing approach, converging different media and channels. In this way skilled customer service workers can provide services through different channels achieving higher efficiency at a lower cost.

Reduce risk: Risk is a core component of the value chain for insurance companies. By identifying early signals and acting on (not just gathering) intelligence from consumer and business social data, social media could help to dramatically innovation reputational risk management. Looking at the customer within this broader network of relationships would introduce new approaches to help prevent fraud and better assess risk profiles.

Making social pay

To build the right social media marketing approach, companies have to start by deeply understanding their social media readiness across all aspects of the organisation, procedures, processes, and technologies. This requires organisations to align their business operations with their social media marketing strategy.

Procedures have to be adapted to incorporate social media as a possible channel through which the prospect and customer can interact with the organisation. Specific processes will also have to be in place in order to guide the execution across all customer-facing touch points, and finally the right technology must be available.

Although the journey of every individual firm will be different, general lessons can be taken from social media pioneers who have recognised four basic steps to improve the potential of their platforms:

  1. Define: define the social media marketing strategy.
  2. Experiment: execute the social media marketing first pilot.
  3. Extend: add targeted outcome segments and tactics.
  4. Expand: transform social media into a new growth engine.

Listen, learn and earn

Social media is in many respects an unstoppable culture force – ubiquitous and powerful. For firms offering financial services, it has an enormous potential beyond simply listening and monitoring. To capture this potential, firms will have to comprehensively integrate social media into their marketing efforts. A good place to start is to determine the most appropriate social media marketing strategy based on specific business goals – the target market, tactics and channels. If successful, this methodical and data-centred approach will allow firms to increase customer acquisition, improve cross-selling, drive customer retention, deliver operational efficiency and, ultimately, reduce risk.

Posted by Shailen Salvi, managing director at Accenture Interactive, part of Accenture Digital, Financial Services Practice (North America) and Joy Bhattacharya, managing director at Accenture Interactive, part of Accenture Digital, Financial Services Practice (Europe)

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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