How banks can use social data to build trust in the digital era

Julia Schroeder of Methods+Mastery talks about how financial marketers can help their customers move forward post-pandemic.

Plant growing from a pot full of coins

Coronavirus has had a devastating impact on people’s personal finances up and down the UK. 9.5 million employees are currently on furlough, and many businesses continue to worry about how they will manage once the scheme ends 31st October. With economic volatility showing no signs of stabilisation, many people are re-evaluating their spending habits and how they run their business, becoming hyper-aware of how financial institutions will help – or harm – them during this period of uncertainty. 

With the situation continuing to change on a near-daily basis, financial marketers need to deliver messaging, products and services that will help their customers and build trust. So how can they make sure they have their finger on the pulse? The answer lies in analysing social data to gain an unfiltered and unbiased understanding of their target audience. 

Use social data to listen to the people who matter most to your brand

Most marketers are familiar with social monitoring and social listening to understand how a particular conversation is trending and evolving online. The way to take this to the next stage – to truly understand what customers are saying – is to build a proxy audience. This takes the idea of traditional representative sampling, but applies it to social audiences to create a group that looks, acts and talks like a brand’s target marketing segments. From there, social conversation analysis is applied to just those audiences to help quickly gather the data and insights needed for strategy and planning. 

We recently put this into practice by conducting an analysis of US social conversation in relation to COVID-19 and people’s financial concerns. Whilst banks were in 6% of the total US COVID-19 finance conversation we wanted to have a deeper understanding of how specific consumer groups were reacting. As a result, our proxy audience groups consisted of High-Income Earners, Middle-Low Income Earners, and Technology-Interested Consumers. From there we were able to see where the thematic commonalities in their conversations were with them all agreeing, for example, it is the people who are the most financially burdened that need the most support.

Dig deeper into data to understand your proxy audiences

Along with understanding what these audiences are saying about a particular topic it’s also possible to gain a deeper understanding of their fears and concerns by seeing what they share online, how they’re reacting and engaging with your brand’s content as well as your competitors. For example, looking at our own proxy audiences we were able to see that:

  • High-Income Earners: Had more to say about how COVID-19 relief funds should be utilised and distributed. They also expressed concern about how the pandemic may affect their overall credit score.
  • Middle-Low Income Earners: This audience showed concern about family financial welfare and were most worried about making on-time payments for student loans and/or mortgages. They were happy for support, but wanted control of how these funds are used.
  • Tech-Interested Consumers: Most interested in supporting workers by providing COVID-19 relief funds directly to those impacted by COVID-19 in a direct-to-consumer application.

Develop content that is helpful and informative

The next step to building trust is to connect and build a relationship with your target audiences on social. One of the most compelling ways to do that is to create a tone of voice for the brand that sounds human. In addition, consider having an employee that’s visible on your channel to answer people’s questions. This is because audiences relate more to a human being behind a social account than that of an entire financial brand. In fact, according to the Marketing Advisory Network, messages from brands went 561% further when employees shared them than when branded accounts posted the same thing. 

Next, it’s important to use social data to understand which types of content will resonate best with your target audience. Particularly during this turbulent year, it’s worth regularly checking in to see if attitudes and needs have shifted because people are more likely to trust you if they feel the messaging and content you’re sharing is useful to them. Content that your audience may find helpful could include:

  • Breaking down finance tips into palatable and shareable takeaways
  • Creating an overview of key trends – particularly helpful to those who invest in stocks and shares
  • Explainer-style content for products such as loans or mortgage holidays 

If you find you are marketing to several different target audiences use social media to target your ads and posts more specifically. For example, on Facebook and Instagram, you can target based on location, age, gender, career, education and interests. This helps you to direct your messaging and content to the people that need to hear it the most. 

Using social data to be able to connect with your financial customers gives you an advantage over your competitors. But more importantly, it’s an opportunity to show you are there for your customers and can help them navigate these uncertain times, fuelling trust and loyalty for the longer-term. 

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