When it comes to the banking world, quick interaction with customers and multiple fast and easy possibilities to get the job done are extremely important. With so many options out there and a need for speed and reliability in banking services, we are now used to switch banks as often as we find a better offer. It is not surprising that banks now focus on social media to further engage customers, open up new conversation and support channels and keep the information flowing. But they still have a long way to go.
The industry is buzzing with information on how to employ Twitter or Facebook or other social media channels and the tools to help you navigate the online world have already appeared. Citibank has hired outside help to teach them about Twitter in particular and social media in general and Frank Eliason, well known for his unorthodox customer service methods at cable television provider Comcast Corp, proved very effective. It took Citigroup five months to launch a Facebook page, a YouTube channel and new blogs for the bank and to get more out of their Twitter presence.
Why do banks need social media when most transactions need a fairly more secure environment and when they cannot advertise much without tons of boring disclaimers legally imposed? Because they fresh businessmen of the world are born with Facebook and Twitter nearby, they are tech savvy and they’re used to have conversations with their favorite brands, not to be talked at.
A survey by Fiserv Inc. published last autumn polled 3,000 online consumers and found 84% were using social media, and 11% connected to their financial institutions through social channels. Consumers who connected to their banks over social media had 5.6 products, compared with 4.3 for those who did not. As more brands tap into social media, users will develop the habit of using these channels to interact with them, thus the numbers will grow.
While banks realize there’s money to be made if they integrate social media in their marketing and communications campaign and about 90% of them are planning to act accordingly over the next two years, current data shows rather slow progress. A report by Aite Group which studied 166 financial services companies in the U.S. and Europe showed 60% of the companies considered themselves novices at social media, and only 8% said they have an advanced knowledge of the medium. 30% devoted no funding at all to social media campaigns and more than their funding was too small to measure.
Low investments are reflected in low number of connections. A December top of the best 25 small business banks and credit unions on Twitter lists banks with less than a thousand followers while Wachovia currently has under 8,000. Bank of America managed to pass the 10,000 followers mark and the above mentioned Citigroup cannot pass that milestone even if they sum up the followers of their three different Twitter accounts.
While individual accounts still have a long way to go, Twitter tools and services might help! There is a website dedicated to posting the latest bank tweets and monitoring all banks with a Twitter account – BankTwitter.com
The buzz is still there, the data and reports support a massive adoption of social media by the banking sector, they first steps have been made, now they have to take it all further!