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Financial Services: How to Bank on Social Media Success

Customer companies in financial services use social media to create communities, while respecting customers' identity, privacy, and money. And while financial services is a heavily-regulated space, there's always room to help your customers. To share how to do this, we talked to Andrew Schrage, young entrepreneur and co-owner of Money Crashers Personal Finance, an online community helping its audience make financially-sound decisions with educational content.

How can financial services brands enhance their customers’ financial fitness with social media?

One of the best ways that a financial service brand can enhance their customers' financial fitness through social media is to start a blog and post the articles on various social media platforms. Customers are more likely to find a brand via social media than by directly visiting the company's website. The articles should explain ways that customers can improve their finances. Another way to utilize social media is to create an interactive and informative experience for customers. For instance, conduct a TweetChat on how to reduce credit card debt. You could also post a question on a Facebook page related to improving one's personal finances.

What are some tips financial services marketers should be using to grow their brand’s social presence?

One of the best ways a marketer can help grow their brand's social media presence is to insist that a high level of customer service be incorporated into the social media strategy. More and more people lodge complaints via social media rather than calling into customer service, yet according to a survey by Maritz Research, roughly 70% of consumer complaints posted on Twitter receive no response. A financial services brand looking to improve its social media presence should not only respond to these, it should encourage them. However, the brand must be 100% certain that their accounts are monitored regularly, and that all comments and complaints are responded to.

An unanswered complaint can be particularly damaging to a brand in two distinct ways: First, you'll have a dissatisfied customer whose voice isn't being heard. Second, when other customers (or even worse, potential customers) see the complaint as well as the fact that no one addressed it, your brand can quickly get the reputation of not caring about its customers. When you take a step back, it's easy to see that it's a huge opportunity for a brand to expand its presence, serve its customer better, and improve overall business operations.

What financial services brands are doing a good job at connecting with customers and/or prospects with social media?

Headstream, a social branding agency, recently created a list of the Top 100 Social Brands, and four entries came from the financial services realm: Paypal, Wonga, Virgin Money, and Simplyhealth. Some of the better-known financial service brands that do a good job of connecting with customers and prospects through social media are Citibank and Wells Fargo, both of which scored well in a study conducted by Assentium on financial service firms and social media. Another brand that experienced success using social media is the Securian Financial Group, based out of Minnesota. After embarking on a social media campaign, it improved its Facebook "likes" by more than 25% and Twitter followers by roughly 20%.

What are your thoughts on in-house social platforms, such as Amex Open Forum?

American Express, which has done a great job branching away from its credit card offerings, and Open Forum seem to be on the cutting edge of a financial brand embracing social media. Although it's more geared towards small business owners rather than traditional consumers, it's an excellent example of how a brand can maximize its social media leveraging. The website is packed with informative articles providing relevant information and includes videos, podcasts, and infographics. It also has a stout presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and even Tumblr. It's truly one of the best examples of how a financial services brand can fully enjoy the benefits of social media marketing.

Additionally, they'll be monitoring their accounts more effectively to find out what specific information and products customers are looking for in order to streamline or even expand their business. The sky is the limit when it comes to financial service brands taking advantage of social media.

Andrew SchrageThanks for your time today, Andrew, and great points that we hope fellow financial services marketers will share.

Andrew Schrage
Co-owner
Money Crashers Personal Finance

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