Social networks are growing at pace; by 2017, the global social network audience is expected to total 2.55 billion. Social media is so much more than a means of listening to customers or monitoring the brand reputation. It can generate critical business benefits and connect companies to customers in powerful ways at a time when strong customer relationships are essential for competitive differentiation.
So how can the financial services industry use social media marketing to personally engage customers and drive business benefits? It takes a data-driven, methodical approach where social media is an integral part of the overall marketing strategy—and a willingness to tweak approaches with a test-and-learn mindset that’s as flexible as social media itself.
Financial services firms can seize opportunities from social media by understanding social audiences, mapping customer needs to a meaningful social experience and ensuring that their organization has the right capabilities to deliver—every time.
With advances in optimization tools, analytics and software, social media is now much more a science than and art. According to the latest research report from Accenture, organizations should be harnessing the power of analytics, and integrating social media insights holistically into the company’s marketing strategy by understanding the relevant social audience and the organization’s goals and limits; mapping customer needs to a social experience that the organization can deliver; and enabling the organization with the right capabilities to execute. By doing so, financial services firms can;
Drive organic growth: Social media offers new customer information such as personal attitudes, hobbies and needs that can enhance customer insight and move marketing toward delivering personalized sales and service experience
Increase operating efficiency: By seamlessly integrating current customer service workflows with social media components, financial services companies are already able to leverage the crowd effect, exploiting the potential of user-generated content such as in Q&A platforms.
Reduce risk: Risk is a core component of the value chain for insurance companies. By identifying early signals and acting on (not just gathering) intelligence from consumer and business social data, social media could help to dramatically innovation reputational risk management.
Making social pay
To build the right social media marketing approach, companies have to start by deeply understanding their social media readiness across all aspects of the organization, procedures, processes, and technologies. This requires organizations to align their business operations with their social media marketing strategy.
Although the journey of every individual firm will be different, general lessons can be taken from social media pioneers who have recognized four basic steps to improve the potential of their platforms:
- Define: define the social media marketing strategy.
- Experiment: execute the social media marketing first pilot.
- Extend: add targeted outcome segments and tactics.
- Expand: transform social media into a new growth engine.
Listen, learn and earn
Social media is in many respects an unstoppable culture force – ubiquitous and powerful. For firms offering financial services, it has an enormous potential beyond simply listening and monitoring. To capture this potential, firms will have to comprehensively integrate social media into their marketing efforts. A good place to start is to determine the most appropriate social media marketing strategy based on specific business goals – the target market, tactics and channels. If successful, this methodical and data-centred approach will allow firms to increase customer acquisition, improve cross-selling, drive customer retention, deliver operational efficiency and, ultimately, reduce risk.
For further insights on fundamental social media tactics to build lasting, personalized customer service relationships, please read the full report from Accenture here.