Sales & Marketing

How best to use social media: A financial and insurance business guide

4 min read

21 November 2014

In social media, conventional wisdom dictates that campaign’s should be reactive, impulsive and fun. However, for financial institutions and insurance companies, this type of approach can seem riddled with risk and the antithesis of normal business practice. Then how should financial institutions and insurers ‘do’ social media? The answer is process and strategy.

A process-driven social media campaign is not to be confused with something that is pointless or disengaged. What I mean by a process is a social media campaign that is driven more by an over-arching, detailed strategy and less by impulse. All actions should be aligned with what is effective for the business rather than arbitrary goals such as Facebook ‘likes’. Top of mind should be the reduction of risk and the prioritisation of customer satisfaction.

Currently, many financial institutions and insurers have an ambivalent relationship with social media. From a business development perspective, it isn’t generally seen as a strong avenue of customer acquisition. Many firms have recognised social media’s importance for direct customer relations, however, the risk of making an embarrassing mistake often puts companies off investing in social media further.

One of the most straightforward steps that financial institutions often neglect is analysing what their customers are saying on social media. This goes beyond having a social media manager monitoring Twitter and Facebook and actually necessitates using software to measure the sentiment of customers, key words and pinch points. Many banks would be shocked by the divergence between what traditional customer service surveys tell them and the very negative reception many banks receive online.

Social media represents the world’s largest focus group, there is nothing that banks or insurers do that should preclude them from tapping this information to better understand their customers. What is needed within these organisations is a change in mentality. Taking social media seriously and getting C-level buy-in is essential.

Social media management should not be the sole preserve of the customer service team or a social media manager. By making social media a company-wide responsibility that is overseen at the highest level, a comprehensive strategy aligned with the organisation’s business goals can be implemented. This strategy will allow set procedures to develop that mitigate risk and ensure actions are aligned with the company’s core aims.

Of course, setting up a strategy should be more than a tick box exercise. Real investment needs to be made. Software that manages, listens to and analyzes all of a company’s social media channels can help to establish order to the process and allow tangible goals to be set. For example, a bank’s social media audience can be segmented into backers, current customers and targets – consumers who should engage with the business but don’t. How these segments change as the social media campaign develops can be an indication of the relative success or failure of a bank’s overarching customer service policy.

Developing these processes, using social media technology and establishing clear goals makes social media an intrinsic part of an organisation’s business. Not a haphazard chase for likes or followers.

All the signs indicate that in the coming decades social media will become the only way consumers interact with brands. Banks and insurers will not be excluded from this trend. To ensure that your company is not playing catch up, it is important to start taking social media seriously now.

Leah Pope is VP of global marketing at Synthesio.