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Five Ways Financial Institutions Can Engage Consumers via Social Media

When it comes to interacting with consumers, social media is one part of a larger multi-channel strategy. Because of their sensitive business nature and requisite regulatory concerns, many financial services companies are trying to figure out the right level of interaction. However, as social-media use becomes more prevalent among Boomers and a way of life for Millennials, it is essential for all companies to have a social strategy that engages with, and captures the attention of, their most valued customers. Having worked with a number of global financial organizations and their customers on this topic, we’re sharing five best practices on how financial service organizations can best engage with their consumers via social media:

1. Don’t assume; ask.
Go directly to the source and ask your customers what are their likes, dislikes and preferences. Don’t make assumptions such as, “Boomers don’t use smart phones”; Boomers are actually active users and the fastest-growing market.

2. Follow what your customers do, not your competitors.
Just because your competitors are running a contest on Twitter doesn’t mean you should. Do you know if your customers even like to use social media? If so, what specific outlets?  Do they use it to talk about their finances?

3. Take the time to create meaningful connections.
Social media creates an opportunity to both educate and connect with customers. Take time to understand your customers and learn what types of experiences are most valuable to them. Do they like original content? Advice? Breaking news? And, how frequently do they want to hear from you?

4. Maintain your voice.
The Wall Street Journal has long had a clear financial voice and we find it represents the go-to resource for many self-directed investors. However, when we test the reception of different social media, the venerable WSJ falls to the bottom. The biggest complaint? WSJ’s online voice and content shifted and wasn’t viewed as useful. If you want to have more than one voice, create multiple handles to serve different purposes. For example, Citi uses several Twitter handles; each incorporates a different style depending on its purpose: @AskCiti responds to customer service questions by interacting with customers on a more personal level, while @Citi shares company news and helpful advice about finance.

5. Listen; it’s your best inspiration.
Iterate with customers to get it right. By deeply engaging in ongoing dialogue with them, you will be able to fine-tune your understanding about what customers want. They are people with hopes, fears and emotions. Engaging with their finances is fraught with emotional baggage for them; by gaining empathy you will build their trust.

In order to be successful, financial institutions need their customers to engage more with their personal finances. And, the more these organizations interact with their customers in meaningful ways – that include social media as just one component of a larger multi-channel strategy – the more customers will be willing to take action on some of their most valuable financial assets. Hopefully, with you.

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