As recruiters we have seen an interesting change in 2012 in the way social media has been discussed and embraced by certain financial services organisations. It seems to be the belief of many online/digital teams that social media has emerged as the platform that will decide many of the winners of tomorrow’s connected enterprise.
In the area of financial services, initial strategies and budgets saw business seeking exposure on key social media platforms. This gave organisations a base for analysing customer opinions about their products and broader service experience.
For some businesses this has evolved to a more proactive role of responding to customer feedback quickly. Today the needs and uses of social media strategies within financial services businesses differ from organisation to organisation, however it seems like marketing/digital teams are working overtime to try and get the right balance in the current climate.
With many financial services businesses understandably cautious about putting themselves onto a number of social media platforms in the current climate with much of the British press and public harbouring negative feelings towards these businesses, we have seen social media recruitment focused on a few different areas:
Handling customer complaints
As a recent report from KMPG into social media in financial services businesses details, social media is being used as an effective tool to interact with the customers regarding queries and complaints. Once the queries or complaints have been posted on the specific social media page, the financial institution representative can address it in a timely fashion.
If the activity requires any exchange of sensitive information, the financial institution may contact the customer directly using a secured channel of communication. Hence, social media can be efficiently used as the first level of query resolution and as this is a non-core activity which is removed from the branch and other delivery channels, it leads to cost savings for the firm.
Arguably, one of the most fundamental uses that a social media footprint can serve a financial institution is an increase in brand awareness. Businesses have been able to engage a completely different audience and have been able to engage the users of social media in different ways, such as by displaying discounts and special offers, as well as asking questions or conducting polls, displaying industry related news and opinions etc.
Engaging the social media users effectively has seen increases in brand awareness at a significantly lower investment compared to mainstream media, especially within the key target audience of the traditionally younger social media user base.
A number of financial services companies have worked closely with internal communications teams to try and integrate social media with the organisation’s internal communications plans. The thinking behind this has been to develop a sense of belonging among the employees by allowing them to interact among each other via a social media platform. There has been a number of social media professionals focused on improving employee engagement first before switching their focus to the customer.
What has transpired throughout 2012 so far is that there is much more of a shift towards the use of social media by financial services businesses in one form or another. It seems no one is completely sure on the ‘ideal’ or ‘perfect’ strategy but as more candidates develop these skills it is certainly becoming an interesting area of FS marketing.
Candidates coming to the UK from other countries, especially Australia and New Zealand have provided some fascinating insights into social media successes in other parts of the world. What is certain is that in 2012 a bigger percentage of marketing budgets within financial services businesses has gone towards social media and this seems to be a growing trend.