Can Financial Services Brands Ever be Credible on Social?

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More innovation is needed in the UK banking sector. That’s the conclusion of the recent Competition & Markets Authority report that called for, among other things, mobile apps to help customers find the best rates and “open banking” that will “harness technological changes which we have seen transform other markets.”

The report found that banking lags behind other sectors in terms of using mobile technology to communicate with customers. A big issue because, by 2020, UK customers are expected to use their mobile devices to manage their current accounts on 2.3 billion occasions a year  – more than internet, branch, and telephone banking put together.

An elusive audience

UK Millennials will number 17 million by 2019. Little wonder, then, that the onus is on financial services brands to target these 18-to-35-year-olds on the social and digital platforms they’ve grownup with.

Financial brands need to look beyond their own apps to reach this elusive, and increasingly valuable, audience on the social platforms that they naturally inhabit. Yet can financial services companies, given the accusation that they lack innovation, really ever be credible on social or mobile?

This is undoubtedly a challenge yet the opportunities can’t be ignored. Unlike traditional and mass media like direct mail and TV, native ads on Facebook and other social platforms can be highly targeted to specific audiences based on demographics, location, interests, web behaviour, and other aspects of consumer identity.

Building awareness

Brands in the sector have the chance to build awareness for a product, service, or brand message by driving reach and frequency of key target audiences with high-impact social advertising formats, which are evolving into image and video-based solutions due to the rise of platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram and Pinterest, alongside Facebook and Twitter.

Social video works well with the Millennial audience due to its native format and auto-play functionality. Financial brands should look to use video as a part of awareness creative to communicate product/brand messages in a highly engaging format.

They should also consider achieving cost-efficient reach across social platforms. One in every five minutes on mobile devices is spent on either Facebook or Instagram so campaigns can be optimised by running ads across Facebook and Instagram within a single ad set, with the option to use the same creative for both platforms.

Credible connections

Brands can gain credibility on social channels through sponsorship and involvement with live events as they play out.  Twitter has built a reputation as the live events platform, so piggy back on chatter as it happens. And take inspiration from the start-up and sharing economies so beloved by the Millennial generation.

Sharing is a big factor in reaching and growing this audience. A good example is MasterCard’s Valentine’s Day social campaign, which focused on Twitter to engage with audiences across Europe by tapping into conversations about Valentine’s gifts. The campaign, featuring shareable infographics and Vines, proved to be highly effective in the four days around Valentine’s.

Snapchat is becoming the go-to platform for Millennials, who are using Snapchat Stories to keep up-to-date with what is happening in real-time. With up to 8 billion video views a day and as many 18-34 year-old Snapchatters as TV viewers, it provides a huge opportunity for advertisers. Brands can run video during Live Stories and deploy Sponsored Lenses or Geofilters as a fun way to engage with younger audiences.

Customer acquisition

The advanced and unique targeting capabilities of social channels, partnered with highly effective native ad units, enable marketers to cost-effectively prospect and acquire customers. Beyond platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, Pinterest data reveals that 93% of active ‘Pinners’ use Pinterest to plan for purchases and 40 million people have engaged with financial-related content on the platform.

Brands are able to target Pinterest users based on their interests at any given time. This is especially useful for financial companies trying to reach people looking for loans for home renovation during the peaks of May and June, targeting “budget Pinners” wanting to pay off or reduce debt, and for messages about budgeting in the New Year.

Social media platforms, with their extensive ad formats and targeting capabilities, give financial service companies the opportunity to build and maintain relationships with customers. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Snapchat also enable banks, insurance providers, and other financial institutions to humanise their brand with relevant, valuable content targeted to audiences across a range of life circumstances.

By authentically joining consumers’ conversations – while staying within industry regulations – financial companies can use social channels to foster customer engagement and ultimately, retention.

The original article can be found in Finance Digest.