Banking on Social Media

In today’s volatile economy, proof of credibility is a constant obstacle facing many banks. The pressure to redeem trust, build consumer confidence and exceed customer satisfaction is high. Historically, the banking industry is one heavily bound by compliance, protocols and procedures. Whilst there has always been a degree of emphasis placed on customer-focused relationships, the modern consumer’s wants and needs are significantly different from those of even five years ago. It is now a prerequisite to be where your customers are, at all times, even before they are – and that ‘where’ is online.

78% of GCC customers are willing to switch banks for a better online experience

If we look closer to home, 78% of GCC customers are willing to switch banks for a better online experience – seventy-eight percent! This widening gap between consumer expectations and the reality served up by banks in the region will soon hit an inflection point. Those banks that take significant steps towards digital transformation first will create a gap between themselves that cannot be filled through raffle draws, lamppost ads or press releases.

The virtue of talking back

With 88% of GCC users using social media daily and 2.3 billion active users globally, we all know that social media has taken the world by storm. Smartphone penetration is at record highs and communication via channels such as Facebook and Twitter has become the new normal. It’s increasingly clear that they can no longer be ignored, including by traditional financial incumbents. Why? Because according to Capgemini’s industry report, 89% of banking customers are owners of a social media account. If that doesn’t make a strong enough case, Accenture’s ‘Banking Customer 2020’ study found that digital consumers are 12 times more likely to interact with banks than non-digital counterparts.

89% of banking customers are owners of a social media account

The success of social media is in part due to its unique community-led nature, creating an online space where authentic feedback from users is welcomed. This adds a dynamic that’s lacking in traditional media. Barclays and Citibank are two that have invested heavily in digitally transforming the way they do business. Whether it’s responding to customer complaints and inquiries at record times, or encouraging users to share branded content to create conversations, social media lends itself to a brand’s unique style and culture. Fundamentally, it’s about competitive advantage, making your brand inimitable and then leveraging it. What’s more authentic than the unique interactions you have with your audience?

It’s common knowledge that data accuracy and market anticipation are vital components in the banking sector. There’s a lot of listening to be done on social. This can allow companies to use the market itself as a test group, and in turn, can provide real-world data that institutions can use to make accurate predictions.

Social media adds a dynamic that’s lacking in traditional media

There are a wealth of analytics tools to be used online, ranging from Facebook’s integrated insights platform or third-party websites offering access to data that many don’t even know exist. For many customers, filling out credit, loan or insurance applications can be tedious, to say the least. As a bank, you may be looking to re-engage those lost prospects and decrease abandonment rates in form submissions. Social media could play a key role in your strategy by offering users the option of auto-filling their applications with data from their social accounts, such as LinkedIn for example.

Or, you may be a bank looking to increase mortgage acquisitions in Bahrain. Using information from your website, you are able to analyse who made it onto your mortgage landing page but not much further. In this instance, personalised Facebook ads focused on retargeting lost prospects should be part of your strategy. It’s these unparalleled insights that have the ability to generate better segmentation, tailored propositions and increased revenue, all the while reducing acquisition costs by as much as 20%.

With this in mind, it’s clear that there can no longer be a disconnect between social media marketing and the business’s overall strategy. Not only do banks now have the ability to cater to existing clients expectations, they are able to accurately predict what their next product should be, whom it should be developed for and how they will raise awareness of it.

Social eliminates silos

People expect to be known regardless of which department of an organisation they interact with. There’s very little more frustrating than making a client repeat details each time they’re transferred to a new department.

Fostering a digital ecosystem in which information is readily available is vital

Social media is about the organisation as the whole. It connects all divisions from HR to operations and sales to customer service. Fostering a digital ecosystem in which information is readily available is vital when it comes to reducing inconsistencies and increasing operational efficiency. All the while, optimising consumer experience between channels, departments and locations.

Who said banking was boring?

The case for leveraging social media is strong across all industries, however, these channels are no longer just a place for users to connect and communicate. By providing a broad range of products and services beyond that of their brick and mortar equivalents, online channels are now central to people’s lives.

Banking is reaching new frontiers. Many are slowly starting to appreciate the importance of new digital channels but have been using them in isolation from core business practices. The bank of the future can no longer be restricted to using platforms purely as a means of bolstering their online presence. Instead, social media should be recognised as a driver of engagement and organic growth, with its ability to monitor customer sentiment viewed as an additional benefit.

In a world of cashless payment systems and convenient FinTech start-ups, it’s exciting to see how traditional players will measure up.

Mark Warman - Founder & Digital Consultant Administrator

With a background in design, technology and user experience, I help businesses adapt. Adapt to the changing needs and expectations of their digital audiences.