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Banking on Social Media

Periodically hauling Mark Zuckerberg or Jack Dorsey before the U.S. Congress might always make for good theatre – and the odd GIF, but banks have long had a different take, viewing Facebook and Twitter not as a threat but as an opportunity to promote their services, while extracting valuable customer data to pursue longer-term objectives. And with growth in global social media usage forecast to increase from 3.60bn in 2020 to 4.11bn by 2025; there’s plenty of low hanging fruit to go around.

Engaging with social media though means going for emotive branding, being accessible and in tune with your customers’ routines/favourite apps. In addition, successful ad campaigns will be catchy, visually appealing and data-driven.

The $64,000 questions however are: Why? and How? Key is building leads, creating emotional connections with users and of course assessing customer journey maps to gauge which touchpoints they experience while interacting with the bank’s brand.

It also means identifying what goal the customer is trying to accomplish and, given customers still use a variety of channels, the Omnichannel shouldn’t be ignored either. All customers need to be treated equally, irrespective of the channel being used. In short, a fully integrated omnichannel, rather than separate channels running in parallel, should ensure product offerings via social media links go directly to the product and not a landing page.

Self evidently,  any institution putting up content on social media platforms expects engagement, be they likes, shares, comments, views etc.

Yet how is this measured? Though the methodologies will vary by platform the standard formula – when calculating on a per-day basis will typically be to divide the total engagement in a day by the number of followers and multiplying it by 100. This captures all posts, rather than a specific one.

However, banks will also be interested in the reach engagement rate i.e. the number of people interacting with posts aside from followers. Here, the usefulness of a specific post can be measured; the formula being to divide the total engagement (of a post) with the reach and multiplying it by 100.

Feedback (across channels) is of course important too and BrandsEye’s analysis (‘UK Challenger Bank Sentiment Index’) of approximately 120,000 tweets from six UK challenger banks (Atom Bank, Metro Bank, Monzo, N26, Revolut, and Tesco Bank) taken over the December 2018-February 2019 period, illustrates this point, even if the survey results themselves cast many of the players in a negative light.

Only Monzo and Atom Bank received more praise than complaints – due to turnaround time complaints being less than 10% of emotive conversations in both instances. Revolut and N26 meanwhile had more consumers complaining about turnaround time than the industry average.

Elsewhere, Monzo’s app scored well with 23% of consumers recommending it on the basis of a positive experience; more specifically its debit card.

Challenger banks also appeared to be more adept when resolving emotive consumer queries; nearly 11,000 consumers (34% of all emotive conversations) complaining about the time they spent with high street banks, compared to 5,000 (20.5% of emotive conversations) with challenger banks. Evidence also suggested lengthy processes and digital downtime from high street banks was driving consumers to considering more digitally astute competitors.

Knowing your target and how to reach it is of course the Holy Grail and Australian neobank Xinja hit the bulls eye with its tongue-in-cheek ‘Ditch dad banking’ campaign (January 2020) where ‘You’d never dance, dress, exercise, holiday or joke like Dad – so why bank like him?’ In offering an alternative to so-called ‘boomer-era’ banks it was also sending out the message that banking is cool and needn’t be stuffy.

A market-leading 2.25% savings rate at the time may have helped of course, yet by attracting A$100 million in deposits in less than three weeks the campaign was undeniably successful.

Major banks haven’t been left behind though – a case in point being Citi’s China unit, which employs multi-purpose social media platform WeChat. Citi customers there are able to apply for a credit card, inquire on their application status, activate their account, access their account balance, request a credit line increase and obtain an instant loan on their phone.

Bank of America meanwhile scored high marks in Gartner’s 2019 ‘Digital IQ’ survey – more specifically for emphasising its mobile app download via a pop-up, as well as including promos across the three product categories the study evaluated.

It also topped organic search visibility among all 80 companies polled, having had the most interactions on LinkedIn and being in the top 10 in Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram interactions. And in the digital commerce space it scored highly for features such as live chat availability during online enrolment.

Irrespective of the type of bank under consideration, it’s clear that social media not only offers a real-time snapshot of customer opinion across a whole market but opinion that has also neither been prompted nor guided. And by being able to successfully drill down through these numbers the ultimate reward will mean a competitive advantage.

Author

  • Martin Morris is a freelance journalist based in the UK. He has more than 30 years of experience writing about topics ranging from banking and investment through to energy and computer security.Prior to working as a freelance journalist, Martin was Night Editor of Arabianbusiness.com and has since written for a number of financial publications, as well as UK national newspapers. He is passionate about music, politics and travel. Although he would add that writing about the world’s diverse countries is no substitute for visiting them.

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