After the subprime mortgage crisis of 2008 and the intense publicity surrounding it, financial institutions in the U.S. struggled with rebuilding their negative reputation among consumers. According to an August 2013 article by Oregon’s The Financial Brand, “Consumers Icy Feelings Toward Bankers Finally Starting To Thaw”, Gallup surveys noted that banking traditionally ranked near the bottom of least trusted industries among consumers but showed a slight gain in 2013. In addition, the 2013 survey revealed that as many as 43% of the survey’s respondents still had a negative impression of the banking industry.
Social media, however, is an effective and proven method of changing customer attitudes toward organizations, building trust and gaining customers. With well-crafted social media strategies, companies have grown customer sales by 132% to 700%, as noted in a previous post, “Demonstrating ROI of Social Media Marketing”.
Some financial institutions have yet to harness the public relations benefits of social media, which can portray the caring, trustworthy and human side of a bank or credit union through regular Twitter tweets, Facebook posts and YouTube videos. The benefits of using social media to enhance a financial institution’s image include:
1) Showing your customers that your financial institution genuinely cares about its customers. Iowa-based Linn Area Credit Union, for example, used their Facebook page to restore a missing stuffed monkey doll to its owner. The Facebook page and its story reinforced LACU’s brand message of a caring credit union and became extremely popular among customers and local media, ultimately reaching over 150,000 people.
2) Indicating that good customer service is a priority at your financial institution. By promptly responding to Twitter tweets or Facebook posts where customers ask for assistance, the quick answer to consumers’ requests creates a positive public image of your bank or credit union.
3) Educating your customers for free. In a December 2013 Bankrate article, “Marketing Buries Financial Education,” L.A. writer Marcie Geffner quoted a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau study that found the financial services industry spends $670 million annually on financial education. By contrast, blogs written by experts such as Chief Executive Officers or Chief Financial Officers are another useful channel for educating customers, cost nothing to produce except time and are easy for consumers to access through your bank or credit union website.
4) Increasing revenue by converting customers to brand advocates. In a December 2013 Media Bistro article, “Consumers Trust Social Media Recommendations (And Facebook Most Of All)” from U.K. social media expert Shea Bennett, Bennett noted that 92% of consumers in a Social Media Link survey trusted social recommendations from their friends, family members and coworkers before they make purchasing decisions. By winning over credit union and bank customers, they are more likely to act as advocates for your financial institution and attract more customers to products such as checking accounts and savings accounts.
5) Showing how your financial institution’s brand differs from other banks or credit unions in the marketplace. With the use of well-designed sites and good-quality graphics, social media helps you to distinguish your bank or credit union from its competition and gain followers or fans.
Filed Under: Social Media, Internet Marketing
Tagged With: Banking, Banks, Credit Unions, Finance, Financial Institutions, Financial Services, Internet Marketing, Reputation, Social Media, Social Media Marketing, Trust