Essentially, “Social Media” is really just a buzz word that has come to be used to describe the ever changing landscape of the internet that we’ve all grown to know so well. The phrase simply refers to all the social networks in existence and the way we, web users, customers, and brands interact with each other online today. Not only can a single social network be used as a marketing tool in itself, but integrating social media channels into your website gives you the power to leverage your website in ways that didn’t exist years ago. The difference between traditional websites and the ones within social media communities is the simple notion that traditional websites speak to a single customer at a time, where as social media sites allow everyone to have a voice. In this sense, social media is the catalyst that makes our everyday web experience so much more dynamic and it has opened the doors for individuals and brands to create their own unique online presence.
In a recent Bank Systems & Technology article, Social Business: 4 Ways Social Media Is Transforming Banking, this widespread use of social media platforms and collaboration tools has been referred to as “social business” but no matter what you call the transformation, it‘s something that needs to be on the radar of all people within the banking industry. As the article describes “The banking industry has begun to sit up and take notice as banks’ clients (including the baby boomers who have the majority of assets in banks) use social tools to navigate family events, opinions and plans — all part of the customer relationship that banks want to build.”
The increasing use of mobile devices is one of the factors that has accelerated this transformation and banks need to be willing to provide more solutions to leverage the latest technology innovations and harness the power of social networking communities. As the article also points out, “customers want more than simple mobile banking” and the banks that are already finding ways to meet these demands are the ones that are already one step ahead.
According to the latest Nielson Study on the state of social media, mobile device internet users that use their phone to view content and websites increased 47% in the US compared with last year’s findings. Even more staggering was the increase in mobile users that were using social networking sites which showed an increase of 62% during the same time period. This number is sure to continue rising as more sites offer content that’s optimized for mobile devices and websites become more deeply integrated with social networks. These are facts that banks can’t overlook because we’re entering an age where failing to adapt to technology innovations can leave a bank leaps behind their competition.
While social media may still be hard for some banks to embrace, the “wait and see approach” is only hurting banks when it comes to leveraging social media channels. The longer it takes, the harder it will be to implement and try to catch up with their competitors. After all, social media is about building relationships with your customers and driving social interactions which isn’t something that happens overnight. In order to create real business, it’s important to understand how to successfully engage with these communities and devise a mutli-channel strategy that works within your institution.
As the popularity of online communities and social media sites grows, the need to connect with customers and prospects in the most efficient and effective manner possible is imperative. Currently many of the largest banks in the U.S. are already leveraging many of the primary social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, however their strategies usually involve non-financial initiatives such as sweepstakes, charitable events, etc. This isn’t to say that non-financial initiatives are a bad way of increasing engagement; they simply need to be accompanied by a variety of other types of content sharing that help build your bank’s brand image and show loyalty to their customers.
As a provider of financial products in an age where content is king and social networks have become the main channel for information and content delivery, it’s important that their customers are able to find the answers to all the financial questions they might have, no matter what stage of their lives. An informed and educated customer is more likely to do business with you, so it’s important that you can provide them with the educational content to help them make the right financial decisions. Given the added value of real-time feedback, transparency and sharing that social media provides, the opportunity exists for an entirely new marketing approach. Banks need to shift their focus away from traditional marketing and start defining their marketing strategy for the future.