As I set out to write this blog post, I imagined covering 5 insights “social listening” tells us about the financial services industry. I did not expect to almost immediately connect to why I feel like a being a woman who has spent her career in financial services has been a rebellious act in and of itself. We’ll get to that soon enough. But first, what is “social listening” and what does it have to offer? According to trackmaven, “social listening is the process of monitoring digital conversations to understand what customers are saying about a brand and industry online.” There are a number of companies that specialize in being service providers with tools that include artificial intelligence to scrape vast data to provide digestable comments about a company or industry. As brand presence and marketing dollars move online, marketing efforts need to be translated into tangible business metrics.
Many firms, mostly born in the last decade or so, are competing to offer a myriad of social media dashboards and tools. We are not going to explore the tools that allow social managers to schedule/post optimization, measure and monitor engagement post performance, we are going to explore intelligence that can be extracted from aggregated social data. Yes, there are tactical hoops to jump over and executing with excellence is a journey not a destination. Often creating just the right amount of consistency so that customers experiences are seamless between engaging with your product in every dimension, well, is easier said than done. Nonetheless, that effort is a blog of its own.
Let’s check in with who we are baking into our data set. According to marketingsherpa, recent demographics of social media are:
- Overall, 85% of U.S. consumers said they used social media. Additionally, 58% of all those surveyed (1,176 consumers) said they follow brands through social media.
- Only 35% of 55-64 year olds and 35% of participants 65 years and older followed brands on social media, compared to 95% of 18-34 year olds, 92% of 35-44 year olds and 85% of 45-54 year olds.
- Women (87%) used social media more than men (82%). Women were also more likely to follow brands on social media (61%) than men (55%).
Based on these statistics, assuming the methodology was sound, explain Crimson Hexagon’s audience description for the financial services industry as:
The audience that discusses money the most is, unsurprisingly, men ( 61% male)
The gender breakdown is actually really interesting given women drive 70-80% of all consumer purchasing, through a combination of their buying power and influence. If women, disproportionately occupy social media as a stakeholder feedback loop and they disproportionately control the US wallet, how are women less present factors from a personal finance perspective on social media? Add that one to the side of your ledger where you inventory perplexing and difficult to reconcile statics right under: 70% of valedictorians are female and 6.4% of Fortune 500 CEOs are female. If we can agree that women and men both need to prepare for financial stability, then we should see the conversation unfold differently. As we continue to ride this rising tide lifting more boats and general economic prosperity, let’s hope more women seek and find comfort in the resources that will protect and grow personal wealth.
Other than shining a spotlight on a gender divide, I found the following highlights of Crimson Hexagon report to be relevant:
- Consumers do not see sunny long walks on the beach when you listen to social conversations on money, unlike many TV ads (remember them): Crimson Hexagon found consumer sentiment has declined significantly in recent years, going from about 40% negative in 2010 to nearly 80% negative in 2016.
- Bank of America (45%), Chase (35%) and Wells Fargo (16%) are the largest players competing for voice share in the bank category from (2010-2017).
- While Metlife largely competes with AIG, Berkshire Hathaway for share of voice, MetLife had a much stronger sentiment with 74% positive versus 26% negative in the insurance category.
- The fin tech trend that has grown the most with an outsized presence was not roboadvising, but crypto-currency.
A lot financial services firms spend time and money deciphering where they sit in the pack, front or the middle of the back in terms of brand presence and customer satisfaction. “Social listening” helps firms measure where they sit on that spectrum. Most firms know who the 800 pound guerrilla is in their category. Customers send funds and policies to other accounts at other institutions. The sentiment results can be more actionable in re-positioning how a team communicates with clients. Of all the bullets, the crypto-currency point is the most interesting. Most firms are not prepared to educate customers through this emerging asset class. The trend has been loud, but perhaps seeing the data visually shifts a view on timing and attention with regard to education priorities. A hootsuite/talk walker white paper underscores by thoughts, “Whilst the Financial Services Industry has access to a mass of transactional data; traditional business intelligence focused on what happened in the past; historical data. Consolidate this with a social media analytics platform and it’s possible to identify consumer behavior that was previously ignored or considered irrelevant.”
We are at the beginning of refining algorithms and leveraging business intelligence from big data. As firms create dashboards that hone in on facets of improving the effectiveness of communication with customers and hire talent to interpret develop the flow of insights, the challenge will be which combine to create optimal value.