Financial Services Firms Are Getting Down to (Social) Business

On Wednesday, October 5th, my colleagues Siobhan Ford, Katherine Kilpatrick and I were fortunate to attend an event hosted by IBM Global Business Services entitled “Social Business is Driving the Bottom Line.” We were joined by a virtual audience via IBM’s Livestream channel and the Twitter hashtag #IBMbanking. The event included several presentations and a panel discussion revolving around the opportunities and challenges that social media represents for financial services companies. Here are some of the highlights that we took away from the morning’s informative discussions:

1. Rehearse your disasters

Leslie Klein from Citi’s Global Transaction Services offered up a number of useful insights from her firm’s experiences with social media, but one piece of advice that struck me was her suggestion to always plan an exit strategy. In financial services firms, social media activities are largely still experiments – in fact, she cited a study by Oxford Economics which found that only 17% of financial services executives are currently planning to make a significant investment in social media. As companies continue to take a test-and-learn approach, some will not be successful – and nothing screams “#FAIL” like an abandoned blog displaying a months-old post as its most recent update. Be optimistic and plan for growth, but also prepare for a graceful exit (just in case).

2. Video, video, video!

One of the most persistent themes of the morning’s discussion was that audiences crave video content – yes, even in B2B. In fact, Klein remarked that a video posted on YouTube by one of Citi’s Global Transaction Services local professionals following political turmoil in Egypt earlier this year surpassed their consumer-focused content in terms of viewership. IBM’s Boxley Llewellyn also emphasized the opportunity that video creates for financial institutions to “put a face on banking” (see more of his insights in this article for Bank Systems & Technology).

3. Leverage the wisdom of the crowd

Did you know that Sametime, IBM’s ubiquitous workplace instant messaging platform, was the product of an internal social networking exercise designed to encourage innovation? Many businesses approach social media as another channel via which to disseminate their message to their target audience – but that’s only half the story. An engaged community is an invaluable resource for ideas on how to develop better products, improve service offerings, or identify unmet needs. If you’re a bank looking to grow your Gen Y customer base, listen to their money-related pain points (credit card debt? Student loans?  Desire for mobile banking options?) before you tell them about your products. Whether you overtly solicit feedback from a community, or just monitor the chatter for nuggets of wisdom, you’re likely to learn something about your audience that could strengthen your business offerings – and your bottom line.

What would you have added to the conversation? Or, for any that tuned into the webcast and Twitter dialogue, what did we miss?

 

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