Why “mobile social” is a winning combination for Financial Services

OPINION / 12th December 2016

There’s been a dramatic shift in the way consumers interact with the financial services industry, brought on by three distinct and intersecting technology trends: mobile, social and real time. These are forcing FS companies to communicate and engage with consumers in a new way.

The rise of the mobile social phenomenon

There’s little argument consumers are increasingly dependent on smartphones: 81% of the UK’s population now own one*, checking in on average 221 times a day - and they never leave the side of 87% of millennials. ** “Those not on a smartphone are considered eccentric, socially marginalized, or old,” said influential commentator Jacob Weisberg in the New York Review of Books earlier this year.

Social has also led a massive shift in communications. With as many as 90% of millennials on social***, they now want to communicate directly with FS companies via their preferred channel. A recent study from GoCompare found that a quarter of the UK’s consumers have used Facebook and Twitter to complain about products and services.

Continuous access to mobile and social channels has created an expectation of immediacy with consumers. An internet minute can contain a terrifying number of consumer actions, which has far reaching implications for traditional FS companies.

Former teen entrepreneur and Hootsuite thought leader, Ben Cathers, summed these up succinctly in a recent webinar: “Engagement with customers used to be over the phone or face to face. Then it moved to email. People expected a response within a couple of days. Now customers want to interact with a brand. Say they put something on a Facebook wall, and they expect a response almost immediately. When they tweet a question to a brand, they expect a response within one hour. This has drastically affected the customer journey because if your FS company doesn’t respond, one of your competitors will.”

Social combined with search has also changed the way consumers discover products and services. There has been a shift from traditional mechanisms for reaching the consumer. Rather than looking in their phone book for a local financial adviser, consumers now use Google to find one. Before enlisting a financial adviser, they go to Twitter or LinkedIn to determine whether the adviser is trustworthy and knows what they’re doing.

How are FS companies capitalising on these behaviours?

Building brand reputation: Legal & General

Legal & General have been using increasingly innovative methods to get people talking about money and build brand awareness on social. In partnership with Google and Rough Guides a year-long campaign saw:

  • CEO Nigel Wilson take part in live Google Hangouts that invited the public to a ‘kitchen table style’ discussion in which independent experts answered people’s questions topics, submitted via social media.
  • A collaboration with Rough Guides which commissioned independent money experts to author five free ebooks, promoted on the MailOnline.
  • On Twitter the prominent poet and battle rapper Mark Grist leading a #moneyrhymes competition, where people were asked to submit their own money rhymes in a ‘Twitter Party’. This was also promoted on the parent blogging circuit, in partnership with the blogger network BritMums.
  • The CEO author his own blog, addressing social issues, rather than financial performance. His blogs covered a range of issues from issues from Mansion Tax to infrastructure.

The results were impressive. The year-long campaign in 2015 delivered:

  • More than two million video views
  • Reached 27 million financially unconfident people on social media
  • Generated 130 million earned media impression
  • Won a City AM Business Personality of the Year Award for Legal & General CEO Nigel Wilson.

Increasing adoption of financial products: Avidia Bank

The Massachusetts-based community bank, Avidia embraced social media to drive consumer engagement and launch its Cardless Cash service, which allows customers to withdraw money from ATMs directly from their smartphones, last summer.

It used social media platforms and brand ambassadors to grow and engage with its audience and deliver concrete results. Its social media team:

  • Hosted a live Q&A on Periscope, on multiple streams, at different times of the day and in different locations, with finance industry professionals, who talked about the convenience of using mobile apps rather than ATMs. Experts addressed consumer concerns head-on. It recorded and captured content and repurposed it across its other social networks.
  • Used social management tools to monitor key phrases, brand mentions, industry conversations and general news. It used Hootsuite to find social media influencers in the financial services space, and reached out to them directly to promote its campaign.
  • Implemented an employee advocacy programme - “Avidia Smarties,” which encouraged employees to become brand ambassadors on social. They were asked to share on-brand content from a central library on their personal social media channels to promote the launch.

Its social marketing strategy, carried out from July to September of 2015, resulted in:

  • A 13% increase in mobile app enrolments
  • Numbers of Twitter followers doubling
  • A 10% growth in Facebook followers
  • A 83% positive sentiment for Cardless Cash

ORM’s view:

Implications for FS organisations

As these examples show, in an increasingly digital world influential younger generations require authenticity and a two-way dialogue to buy into a brand or service. It’s therefore important that senior managers and FS influencers share their knowledge and insight in a transparent way. Digital, mobile and social is an extremely effective way to do this. However, it requires a well thought out and executed plan, plus time and support from the business leaders involved. It also requires a digital literacy and a new breed of social etiquette, which may not be natural to older generations not brought up with it.  However, that and the operational challenges outlined above should not become a barrier to undertaking socially focused mobile communications programmes. The price of not getting involved is too high.

Andy Farmer Andy Farmer Executive Director, Strategy Andy Farmer