Financial services and Facebook
As they operate in a highly regulated environment, many banks and financial services companies have been wary of becoming involved in social media. There has been a real fear that a throwaway tweet could be seen as endorsing a product when it isn’t the right fit for a particular customer, leading to potential misselling claims and action by regulators.
However when handled properly the benefits of social media very much outweigh the disadvantages. In the UK, banks such as HSBC have shown how social media can be used for customer service and new research from the US demonstrates that the whole sector is embracing social media. In its research, Corporate Insight found that 92% of US financial institutions it surveyed were using Twitter (up from 51% in 2010), with fewer (88%) using Facebook. And numbers continue to grow with 17 new financial institutions launching onto Twitter in the first quarter of 2012 alone.
So how can financial institutions interact with their customers on social media – without falling foul of regulations? Here’s five key points based on Eptica’s experience:
1 Go where your customers are
Make sure you are on the same social media networks as your customers in order to communicate properly with them. Do your research – are they on Twitter, Facebook, Google + or LinkedIn?
2 Train staff to understand social media
Any customer facing member of staff needs to understand the rules and regulations that govern how banks and financial institutions operate. Make sure that these are included within your social media guidelines and everyone understands them. Unlike a face to face conversation in a branch everything on social media leaves a record, so staff need to act accordingly.
3 Provide consistent information
Particularly when it comes to selling products, consistent information across all channels is key. Ensure you have one set of answers to questions that is kept updated centrally and is simple to access by staff, whatever channel they are using.
4 Use the right channel for the right message
Every social media network is different, and is used by your customers in different ways. Getting across a complex sales message in a 140 character tweet is obviously going to be difficult, so look at how you can match the style and advantages of each network to how and what you are communicating.
5 Be innovative
While there are rules to be obeyed, companies can really differentiate themselves and build a strong brand by innovating on social media. For example in the US online brokerage Zecco enables customers to trade through Facebook while financial advisers Ameriprise provides an adviser search tool on LinkedIn. Take a look at your business – where could social media change how you operate?