Banks, social media and digital marketing

20160710 Barclays Digital Eagles 5
Read how banks are using social media and digital marketing.

Banks are adopting social media and digital marketing. Banks have seen how social media has revolutionised the way people communicate with their friends and family, the digital marketing phenomenon has provided a new, exciting and instantaneous channel for customers and businesses to interact. Financial service providers, such as banks, are one of the sectors which has adopted digital and social media with marketing strategies supported by digitally focused communications teams.
Here are two case examples of banks using social media and digital marketing and some suggestions on how UK banks could better use social media and digital marketing.

Banks using social media and digital marketing – case example Barclays

A great example of a bank fully getting behind the digital communication revolution is the ‘digital eagles’ campaign from Barclays. The digital eagles team is helping both young and old learn more about all things technology – getting older people online and active, while helping young children learn how to code. Teaching a variety of generations how to interact online – including how to utilise Barclays’ online services and social media channels is based on a critical business strategy as Barclays has some of the oldest customers in the UK. A major challenge is trying to move digital immigrants towards adoption of online banking. Older customers can be more cautious, less knowledgeable and may not have the necessary technology.
20160710 Barclays Digital Eagles 1
Instead of asking customers to use their online banking app, Barclays brilliantly executed a knowledge campaign. Working on simpler aspects on operating online, such as ‘talk to the grandchildren via Skype’. Barclays Bank has now developed 3 core offers via 12,000 trained staff:

Each element is accessed in a different way as’ Build your internet skills’ is online and ‘Learn about computers’ is offline.
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Banks using social media and digital marketing – case example Natwest

Natwest are another financial provider who are using digital marketing. They use social media as a key communication tool and have a large number of Twitter accounts.
20160710 NatWest twitter accounts

Through both their Twitter and Facebook accounts, Natwest answer questions, advertise financial promotions and publicise work in the community. Whilst having to remain mindful of the restrictions when promoting financial products such as mortgages, savings and insurance – such as fully disclosing the relevant APR and including a warning notice where relevant – social media provides a great avenue for reaching new and current customers.
However, it also provides an avenue for complaints from members of the public. This is typical on many corporate pages, especially as it’s often seen as a faster way to gain a response.
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Challenges for banks using social media and digital marketing

Aside from complaints, another issue is the lack of consistency across social media platforms. There is no connection between Barclays Twitter and Facebook pages. Perhaps they are aimed at different audiences, but there is little indication that these pages are part of the same business. It may also be due to different teams working on these platforms.
Barclays Twitter page
Barclays Twitter page

Barclays Facebook page
Barclays Facebook page

Another issue is providing more platforms for unhappy customers to comment and criticise the campaigns.

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Barclays Facebook page complaints

Online and public complaints can cause a reputation risk for the bank and damage their standing, both on and offline. However, most agree that utilising social media is the right thing to do in spite of this, as ensuring you are part of the conversation is much more important than leaving a vacuum – which leaves as much opportunity for negative comments, without the ability to respond.
It is clear to see from these two examples that there is potential for banks to make good use of social media and digital technology. While there are risks involved, the positives ensure that, if used properly, social media provides an effective communication tool.

How could UK banks use social media and digital marketing better?

Social media marketing provides a way to establish meaningful, useful connections with potential and existing customers and to create new brand images and communicate on a more personal level.
Here are five ways banks can use social media and digital marketing.

#1 UK banks could use social media and digital marketing for promoting products

With so many people online, comprising wide demographic groups, banks could aim their products at specific individuals. Using social media, they can target each person individually while taking advantage of the wealth of information on their profiles, creating a communication channel that is advantageous to both bank and customer.
For instance, a branch employee can search for new business owners through networking platform LinkedIn and advertise loans that suit the specifications on their company’s profile. The challenge is that the technology isn’t there yet that distinguishes between the customer who has applied for a loan and has been turned down and the customer who hasn’t yet applied.

#2 UK banks could use social media and digital marketing for Educating customers

Banking is complicated and there are often many product choices. Producing niche adverts on a range of products would be an expensive venture and may not be seen by the target audience. A range of YouTube videos is a better way to convey bite sized information aimed at specific audiences. Nat West is aware of this and has a well-developed YouTube channel.
If done effectively, using a social media platform can be a less expensive means of advertising. Consider the costs for seeding and spreading a video about online banking through YouTube to paying for a 30-second prime time slot on ITV1.

#3 UK banks could use social media and digital marketing for tactical advertising

At different times of year, there are different issues. When students start university they are bombarded with messages about ‘best banks for students’, ‘overdraft options’ and more. Social media advertising options are sophisticated enough to  promote ads directly into the news feeds of people aged 18 to 24 who follow a university’s Facebook page. Twitter offers paid hashtags at the top of national lists as many other advertising options. Facebook allows sponsored posts and sidebar posts and YouTube has a range of video adverts.
For more examples on social media ads see this post that shares examples of some great successes.

#4 UK banks could use social media and digital marketing to text customers before they go into the red

One of the biggest complaints on social media is where customers have gone overdrawn by a few pounds and this generates a fee and a subsequent unpaid or rejected bill. There must be simple technology to advise customers that a direct debit or other scheduled payment is about to push them into the red and this will take the account into an overdrawn state.

#5 UK banks could use social media and digital marketing to make online applications simpler

Natwest has been working on this and others need to follow. Remove unnecessary steps from applications and speed up the online approval processes. One of the big issues about switching banks is the time involved to establish an account. Connecting an account via a platform such as LinkedIn provides much of the data required to make commercial decisions.

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