The social dilemma
Following my previous article on mobile, the next area I want to look at is social media.
Social media is a big part of most people’s lives. It’s used to connect, communicate, alert, observe, and increasingly to buy, sell and service.
For context, I wanted to get some numbers. I trawled through many websites for stats. Here are some that I found which tickled my fancy:
- Every second, 11 people use social media for the first time.
- 5 billion people use social media – more than half the world’s population.
- According to 2020 figures, the average person will spend 6 years and 8 months on social media over their lifetime. 90% of this using a mobile device.
- In South America, the average time spent on social media daily is 3hrs 24 mins, in Africa it’s 3hrs 10 mins and in Europe it’s 2hrs 6 mins.
- 54% of people use social channels to research products, and 49% rely on influencer recommendations.
Taking the birth of Facebook in 2004 as the starting bell for social, this has happened in less than 20 years! Social media is taking over the world.
If half the world is on social, you would have thought it might be seen as a strategically important channel! The math is simple. This means, for the average bank, at least 50% of its customers are on social.
So, you would have thought that the world of finance with its intangible products and services would be running towards it, trying to understand it. Spending money on research, insights, consultants, agencies to make sense of it, seeking opportunities and looking at ways of using it to better connect with audiences.
In theory, insight gathering should be simple. Taking a very Western view on things, there is a limited pool of platforms to observe. Each of these platforms is good at promoting what they are up to and their plans for the future. They are also quite good at providing insight into user behaviour.
Instead, it appears that the opposite is true. The industry has so far shied away from it in fear. In a recent survey that I carried out (thank you, WhiteSight) of 55 banks worldwide, the overall impression, aside from a few shining examples, was that:
Banks + Social = Tepid (to downright cold).
But why is this? I have a few thoughts.
The speed of change
My old boss is Martin Sorrell of G4 Capital. Martin is brilliant and is often asked for his views on the economy by the media. He talks about economies in terms of U shapes and V shapes. He also talks about Swans, Grey and Black.
A Black Swan event is an event like COVID that is devastating and unexpected. In many ways, the rise of social has been a Black Swan event. It has emerged so unexpectedly and grown so quickly that the FS industry has not been able to get ahead of it; neither have the consultants that the banks traditionally rely on.
Customers suddenly had a channel available that they could use to promote problems and air grievances.
A quick glance at the average bank’s social feed is a bit like a wall of pain. 90% of what is there is dirty laundry aired in public. It isn’t easy to know how to respond when all you can see is a stream of negativity.
Lack of understanding and insight
The speed of growth of social has resulted in the rapid evolution of customer behaviour. The banks struggling already have failed to invest in understanding this.
But the reality is that social is not going anywhere. It has to form part of the channel strategy of every bank. So how can the industry respond?
Going back to the research I carried out, let’s talk about a shining example – Nubank.
Nubank was founded in 2013 in Brazil and has 40 million customers across LatAm. We found it was off the scale in terms of its approach and success with social. It has millions of followers, and more importantly, users are engaging with it. And most of this engagement is positive.
It has over 2.1 million followers on Instagram and 3.5 million on LinkedIn.
It also has a community of over 270,000 and a newsletter with 1.5 million subscribers. Its blog was read by over 50 million people in 2020.
What is the secret to Nubank’s success?
I was recently very fortunate to speak to the head of social for Nubank, Paula Rothman. She shared some insights into how Nubank has made social media work.
Here are some of the headlines.
1) Social is seen as a strategic channel and championed by its leaders
Nubank was born social. As a start-up, it recognised that it needed social media to survive and grow. Christina Junqueria, one of the founders, drove the social strategy from the start, ensuring that social and content were critical strategic pillars, delivering value to prospects and customers.
It is valued in the business from top to bottom. Their tone is authentic and natural, I suspect because it was normalised as part of the business from the start.
2) They do not fear social and see it very much as a customer support channel
Social is not marketing. It is about outreach and support. They have run towards it and embraced it, not run away from it. Customer support people are integral to the social team.
By definition, the CS people are close to customers and can respond quickly. But they also observe what is happening and turn that into insight and content. But fundamentally, they are there for customers when it matters.
3) The social team obsess over customer insight and ways to connect
They drive content themes from insight and research. By understanding customers, they can develop themes that matter to the audience and content that is trending.
Much of Nubank’s content relates to education and financial literacy; insight fuels this content so what is delivered is meaningful, relevant and accessible.
Based on the social platform, content is posted in the most appropriate way – a short video, a text post, an image. They try to ensure consistency of branding – most of what you see graphically is Nubank purple!
4) They are highly organised
They have a team of over 30 people focused on social. That is 30x more than most! These people are specialists in what they do, be that insight, production or measurement.
They don’t employ generalists. They have moved well beyond the youngest person on the marketing team being the social specialist.
5) They understand the platforms
They have invested time and energy into understanding the platforms and using them appropriately.
For example, LinkedIn is business and employee focused, so they deliver content suited to that audience, and Instagram is much more graphically focused, so they deliver the most effective assets for that.
This knowledge is not used to try to game the platforms – instead they rely on great content delivered where relevant and in the most suitable format.
6) They work together
Social is critical to the customer experience and the employee experience. The folks at Nubank have recognised that it spans across the business and that the entire company needs to work together to make it work.
Bottom line, they are taking social seriously. Are you?
About the author
He is a passionate customer advocate and champion and a successful entrepreneur.