According to a PwC report on retail banking in 2020, social media means that “customers are empowered to voice grievances widely, and have much greater transparency to features and price.” As a result of this, the days of financial institutions solely competing on price are over and they are now competing to give customers a reliable and unmatched experience. A key pillar in this spectrum is the brand’s activity on social media, where financial service brands can build helpful, informative profiles for their customers, spread their brand messages, and ultimately assist in hitting business goals.
While heavy regulation on the promotional activities of financial brands has lead many to adopt a more cautious approach to social marketing in the past, a growing number of brands have maturing presences on Twitter. We’ve considered current innovations in financial services and examined studies on the future of different industries to help build a picture of what the next few years may have in store for financial brands on Twitter.
Movement from retention to acquisition
In March 2015, the FCA confirmed their approach for financial promotions on social media, outlining the rules to follow in order to have “clear, fair, and not misleading” social promotions. Previously, the ambiguity around what financial brands could and couldn’t do on social media meant that brands had to focus a lot more on lighter areas of content and customer service. This required financial services to focus their social efforts on brand awareness and customer service. While these areas won’t suddenly disappear, we think that a safe set of guidelines to abide by on social media will see more financial service companies focus on promotional campaigns to acquire customers as their social strategy matures.
“Social Media has become a really powerful medium for the insurance sector, and Twitter plays a key part in our social strategy. It has enabled us to focus our marketing content and social customer services leading to detailed insights. This improves the way to we operate so ultimately benefiting the customer. Another great benefit will be the gradual movement from retaining customers to helping to acquire new customers too. Partly through content we might run in the future, but also the transparency of Twitter enables us to enhance and continuously improve service. This can lead to an increase in brand advocates that will ultimately lead to acquiring more customers.”
The 2015 Endelman Trust Barometer once again listed financial services as the least trusted sector, a trend that financial companies are keen to reverse over the coming years. With people generally being trusted more than brands, more finance companies will begin to leverage their employee base to help build trust and spread their messages out to a bigger audience than the brand’s official accounts alone would reach. These individual professional accounts can be used in employee advocacy programs help to drive conversation about their industry on a personal level, assist with social selling, and establish the wider brand of the company as the home of thought leaders. This will involve giving staff guidelines on what to share, industry regulations, and lead nurturing.
Morgan Stanley already has a scheme in place for its 16,000+ financial advisors to Tweet using their own individual professional accounts. Training is provided, and Tweets currently need to be checked before being posted, but it will help their advisors to reach leads, amplify the company’s messages, and drive conversations which wouldn’t have happened before. This approach may be more common in some sectors but is leading the way in a heavily regulated industry. By making the effort to implement this strategy, they have shown the importance that they feel Twitter will have in the future of financial companies.
Social media to influence risk assessment
Questions such as how much to charge an individual for insurance, or whether to grant a loan are asked every day. Anything that helps give a more accurate answer needs to be explored, and with 52% of banks looking to put significant effort into enhancing customer data collection over the next five years there may be plenty of financial institutes using the goldmine of publicly available data on social media. A customer’s Twitter profile contains both hard and soft public data that can potentially be used to help financial companies come to a more informed decision.
Increasing prevalence of incentives to engage on social
78% of customers think it’s important that their banks present offers via social media, such as discounts on brands who are partners, or priority access to events that the bank sponsors. Yet only 34% of banks are currently able to offer this. As the importance of customer experience increases, we may see a growing number of financial services offering rewards to followers which can be claimed via social media.
Researching customer interests and preferences
According the PwC report on retail banking in 2020, using social media to monitor customer preference is something that 48% of banks look to implement into their activities by 2020. The ability of Twitter marketing platforms to deliver personality insights into the tastes, traits, and interests of specific groups using segmentation tools can be extremely useful for creating targeted Tailored Audience campaigns. They can also be used to inform future campaigns, as well as reflecting on the performance of both previous and current campaigns. With marketers as a whole expected to spend an extra 440% on social analytics by 2019, we believe marketers at financial industries will also be implementing these services into their strategies.
Increasing customer service
Twitter’s ability to immediately contact anyone means that an increasing amount of customers are using it to seek help. Financial services are already offering a growing level of customer support via Twitter, and a small group of brands (such as NatWest) have made this service available to their customers 24 hours a day. We predict that it won’t be too long before 24 hour service will be the standard operating procedure on the platform for all major financial services. This will mean growing and training a competent team, and also creating quick-response strategies for any emergencies that occur, such as someone sharing account details on public Tweets.