Social media marketing: Can banks go social?

Monday 19th, August 2013 ,

Can banks adopt social media marketing

Banks and social media marketing often seem like chalk and cheese. But could there be a way for banks to leverage the medium? Read on to know more.

Novices to the digital marketing process often mistakenly think that social media marketing is for ‘cool’ industries like retail. This ideology is not only extremely limiting, it is also entirely incorrect. Even ‘boring’ industries can and have benefited from an active social media strategy. But what about the banking industry? How has it exactly been faring on social media?

A survey conducted by Wipro and the European Financial Marketing Association (EFMA) studied digital marketing capabilities of 3000 retail banks across 130 countries. The survey revealed that only around 15% of the banks surveyed displayed a high level of maturity in using digital channels to communicate with customers. One common major problem area was the ability to have a real time single customer view of products and transactions integrating all channels. Banks also seemed to be facing difficulty in measuring return on investment when it came to the digital channels.

This infographic from Unmetric, a social media benchmarking company, shows how banks in India have been faring on the social sphere. While multiple banks took to the medium, only HDFC, ICICI bank and Axis bank had more than 1 million fans. In terms of engagement, banks engaged with customer most with brand news and CSR related content whereas posts relating to questions to fans, promotions and contests. However, when Indian banks were compared to Asian banks, the latter had 20 times more posts from fans on their Facebook walls and 50 times more replies from the banks.

So what exactly is holding banks back from succeeding on social media?

Inappropriate expectations from the medium

When organizations consider adopting social media strategies, they often don’t have a very clear idea of what the medium can and can’t do for them. Most of them mistakenly believe that social media can directly help in converting leads to prospects. Banks also fall prey to the same assumption. The reality, however, is that social media can help banks generate leads, improve awareness and enhance customer service. When banks recognize this and leverage the medium, they encounter fewer hiccups and meet their goals.

Incomplete decision of what goals are to be achieved

Imagine you are in a dark enclosed space and you have been asked to look for something but you aren’t told what exactly to look for. That is precisely what this situation is. This is a classic issue no matter what the medium in question is. When organizations don’t have clarity on what business challenges need to be addressed and overcome by specific marketing channels, they are set up from failure right from the start.

Lack of sound strategy and implementation

An inadequate strategy and poor implementation can wreck any business’ chances on any medium whether offline or digital. Going social without direction is dangerous because it can damage whatever reputation the brand had managed to build outside of the social network.

Presence on the wrong social network

Banks presence on social media must be determined by where their customers are. Not doing enough research on the same and landing up on the wrong social network can cost banks time, money and resources.

Content that doesn’t engage

Sometimes the reason for social media failure is staring banks right in their faces. Content that doesn’t engage can turn off prospects and customers no matter how highly they think of your brand. Banks need to do adequate testing to decide what content works best and implement the same while monitoring progress the whole time.

Inability to transform customers’ mindsets

Banking is traditionally an industry which necessarily requires face-to-face interaction. Owing to fact that financial transactions require a high degree of trust, banks are often at a loss as to how to translate this assurance and trust through digital channels especially social media.

While at the outset it may seem like social media and banks are ill-matched, there is hope. A keen understanding of the bank’s business goals and the knowledge to be able to leverage the social medium will go a long way in helping banks succeed.



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