Social Media has become a primary tool for higher levels of customer engagement in today’s business environment. With the highly digitized banking scenario, social media promises a spectrum of marketing opportunities for Indian Banks. Social media marketing offers opportunities for customers connect and communication in real time and in large magnitude. Banking on Social Media is the strategy ahead for banks to achieve marketing success. With a more globalized approach and increasing competition, banks have increased their marketing spends on the Social Media. Indian Banking industry has shown a tremendous growth on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.
With the increasing popularity of these platforms coupled with the proliferation of broadband internet, smart phones and mobile devices, social media usage has increased dramatically. If banks are to continue to engage meaningfully with their customers, they need to develop innovative ways to leverage this emerging competitive advantage- Social Media. Today’s youngsters are highly techno-savvy and if we need to get the loyalty of this ‘digital natives’, we have to not only make our presence felt in the platform but have to fruitfully immerse into it also.
Social Media can help banks improve customer insight, increase customer engagement, enhance customer experience and reinforce brand equity, by transforming customers into brand advocates. It can now be used by Financial Institutions to acquire, engage cross-sell and retain customers.
As more and more people engage on social media, there is a strong need for banks to embrace this rapidly growing platform. Though the process of leveraging the social media is at a nascent stage in the country, banks like ours should actively engage in social media marketing to take full advantage of this medium. The present study envisages bringing out the demographic trends in utilization of various social media channels with a view to leverage the data for acquiring and retaining the customers on the basis of an emotional engagement with them.
So in the last couple of years, there has been an exponential growth not only in the number of social media networks but also in the socio-demographic attributes of their user base. One of the main advantages of social media is the fact that there is enormous information that is available about users, their preferences, previous posts and their friendship links.
Before we go further, let us examine the three most popular social media websites and what features they offer to users and businesses.
Major Social Media Platforms
Facebook: Founded in 2006, Facebook has become the most popular social networking website. Facebook provides connectivity for users and facilities for creating and sharing content in the form of pictures, posts, comments, videos and even check-ins. Facebook has also provided a platform for development, allowing developers to create apps that integrate with Facebook.47 percent of all internet users are on Facebook, more than 4.5 billion likes are generated daily and nearly 75 percent of Facebook’s revenue comes from mobile advertising. Facebook has got 184 million monthly active users in India as of Dec, 2016.
Facebook provides three main features for companies.
Fan Pages: Facebook allows businesses to create pages called Fan Pages. Users can then subscribe and become fans of particular companies. They do this by liking the page of the company. They will then receive feeds from the companies and can share their voices
Promoted Posts: Companies can pay for particular posts to be promoted across more people. Such posts are made visible at the top of news feeds for the users who have subscribed to the company. When users respond to these posts, they will be visible among their extended circles as well, increasing the overall visibility of the post.
Advertising: Choosing people for particular ads is much easier on Facebook since the companies can get access to the demographic information about users. This is also useful for viral marketing when companies need to select specific users to target for the message to propagate through the network.
All the Banks that are in social media are in Facebook. Facebook allows organizations to target their audience with a personal approach. We should attract as many customers as possible to our fan pages through various campaigns. Campaigns can be viral recruitment, discounts and coupons, and offline promotions. We can provide some concessions to the customer only when he access by liking our Facebook page.
The benefit of having a large number of fans, apart from the reach it provides for our promotions is that the users can recommend them to their friends. In a study on consumer behavior by Constant Contact and Chadwick Martin Bailey, the key findings showed that 56 per cent of the consumers said they were more likely to recommend a brand after becoming a fan on Facebook. Additionally, 51 per cent of the consumers said they were more likely to buy a product after becoming a fan on Facebook.
Facebook can be used for:
- Creating brand awareness
- Gaining reviews from happy customers
- Defusing feedback from unhappy customers
- Conducting research
- Testing products and services
- Recruiting staff
Facebook with its 250 million members worldwide provides opportunities to communicate with many different groups of people.
There are two options available to businesses:
- To create a page and generate fans through other fans, by using viral marketing
- To create a page and use Facebook Ads
How can we work with our Fans on Facebook?
Facebook offers the following features:
|Facebook features||Description and how it is used|
|Profiles||A page created by a person or organization to interact with their friends/customers|
|Groups||An area where people have a common interest.|
|Events||Create our own event, invite people and see responses.|
Twitter: Twitter is an extremely popular online micro blogging service, which has gained a very large user base, consisting of more than 500 million users. Each user submits periodic status updates, known as tweets, which consist of short messages limited in size to 140 characters. These updates typically consist of personal information about the users, news or links to content such as images, videos, and articles. The posts made by a user is automatically displayed on the user’s profile page, as well as shown to his followers.
A retweet is a post originally made by one user that is forwarded by another user. Retweets are useful for propagating interesting posts and links through the twitter community. This media provides immense potential for viral marketing.
Twitter provides the following for businesses:
Profile pages: Businesses can create profile pages of their own and get people to follow them. They can then interact with their customers by posting updates of products and services and other types of content.
Promoted tweets: This makes certain posts more visible in search results and for particular users. Twitter also provides geographic targeting to increase relevance of messages based on location.
Promoted Accounts: This is relevant for viral marketing. Promoted accounts are users who have been identified as potential influencers for companied to use to spread their messages effectively.
Promoted Trends: Promoted trends place content among the hottest topics on Twitter thereby amplifying their exposure.
Analytics: Twitter provides analytics for companies to determine information about their fans and activity on Twitter.
Twitter adds value to businesses in the following ways:
- Comments on twitter are indexed by Google within hours improving the search profile.
- Our tweets can drive traffic to our website.
- News related to organization can be seen by journalists and potential customers as it happens.
- Promotional messages can be promoted to a wider audience than our existing customers, with the explicit endorsement of those who retweet them.
- Promote time limited offers
- Promote new products and services
- Create and organize events online
- Provide customer service and gain feedback from customers on products or services
- Have conversations with customers
- Test and promote new products and services
- Monitor our brand
- Build mailing lists
- Find new customers
- Provide ‘followers’ with special offers.
- Manage customer services
- Drive traffic to our website or blog.
- Share photos, video clips or podcasts with a wider audience.
A good business tweet needs to be informative, useful and /or good enough to share. We can tweet about:
- New products and services
- New blog posts
- Asking or answering a question
- Facts and figures
- Local breaking news
- Information that may be of interest to our customers/ followers
- Our availability at exhibitions, conferences or other public meetings
YouTube: It is a global video sharing website. It allows billions of people to discover, watch and share originally created videos. Businesses can leverage the mass appeal of YouTube by creating their own public channel that their fan-base can subscribe to. YouTube is seeing a massive surge in India with 180 million monthly active users on mobile devices alone.
Businesses can use YouTube in many different ways:
- Demonstrate how the products work
- Share instructions on ‘how to’
- Upload latest advertisements
- Get viewers to vote on preferred advertisements
- Test market new products /services
- Demonstrate expertise
- Start campaigns
- Share latest appeals
- Share latest news
- Film AGMs and other meetings and share with people who could not attend
- Provide ‘sneak peeks ‘of new products or services
- Encourage fans or supporters to upload their stories
- Upload testimonials from clients
Instagram: It is an online mobile photo-sharing, video-sharing, and social networking service that enables users to take pictures and videos and share them either publicly or privately on the app as well as through a variety of other social networking platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr. 53 percent internet users aged 18-29 use Instagram.
Is a social network that thrives on visual content and this is a great opportunity for businesses to show off their logos, product lines, current event snapshots and whatever that can generate likes and comments from followers.
Promotional contests: Contests can be launched on Instagram to generate more buzz about their offering, drive up interaction and reach more potential followers or customers. We can offer a chance to win something for free, if users agree to take some kind of participating promotional action, like follow them on certain social media sites, tag a friend, re-post the offers on user’s own Instagram accounts and so on. Instagram contests help businesses go viral and keep their current followers interested in following them.
In the recent past, Indian banks have launched a banking service through which you can transfer funds using the social media platform, in short send money to anyone with a bank account, if you know his/her mobile number or email address, or if the person is your Facebook friend or follows you on Twitter. In light of this, ICICI Bank introduced mobile banking service called ‘Pockets’, for the youth, where anyone, need not be a customer of the bank, can easily download the e-wallet from Google Playstore, fund it from any bank account in the country and start transacting immediately. This wallet allows the user to instantly send money to any email id, mobile number, friends on Facebook and bank account. The user can pay bills, recharge mobiles, book movie tickets, order food and send gifts by using this e-wallet. Users can choose to add a zero-balance savings account to the wallet, which will allow them to earn interest on their idle money. For each transaction, there is a unique dynamically generated OTP (One Time Password) that is sent to the sender’s mobile number, registered with ICICI Bank, to verify that the transaction is initiated by you.
Axis Bank too unveiled ‘Ping Pay’, a unique multi-social payment solution to enable customers, especially the youth and smart phone users, to transfer money and mobile recharge, person-to-person, including to non-Axis Bank account holders, using social and messaging channels like WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, email and phone contact lists. Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd too launched a banking service called KayPay, which allow individuals to transfer funds to each other instantly by just choosing recipients from their Facebook friends list.
More than just a means to listen to consumer sentiment, social media can now be used by financial institutions to acquire, engage, cross-sell and retain customers. It can also improve operational efficiency and reduce risk. The key is to align business goals with the appropriate social media strategy.
Driving organic growth. Social media provides consumer insights such as attitudes, behaviors, beliefs and needs that can improve personalization as firms try to acquire new customers and build engagement with existing customers. Using techniques such as interest graph analysis and activity feed analysis combined with marketing automation, needs and life events can be monitored and acted upon in highly personalized, well-timed communication. Growth can also be achieved by encouraging loyal customers to spread their influence on comparison sites and to their friends and family. In the world of social media, customer preferences for products or services are influenced by ideas, perspectives, insights and experiences provided by other users. This is achieved through peer reviews, referrals, blogs, tagging, social networks, online forums and other forms of user-generated content. This study aims at sorting out the concept of mass media and pointing to the role that social media play in the process of long-term and beneficial bank – customer relationships as well as improving the effectiveness of the organizational structure.
Social media marketing can not only increase the reach of a bank but also have a positive influence on how customers perceive the bank’s brand value. Customers do not use social media to buy products or services but to build relationships. In consequence, banks should focus on building a relationship based on mutual trust through real involvement in providing precious resources and information. This type of activities contributes to improving the perception of a brand by means of positive social marketing. The properly chosen strategy of using social media in banking requires understanding customers’ expectations.
Indian banks have tapped into the root of what social media means to the community, enjoying success in the way of returning real value for their institutions. The numbers of followers that each of these banks have acquired, is really splendid to see the kind of follower base and engagement they have. Here why and how Indian banks are using twitter as a social media marketing tool?
- Marketing and Promotion
Indian banks are using Twitter successfully by integrating this social tool into their existing campaigns or creating new ones. They are using Twitter to brand themselves or to market a specific product or service like personal loan, education loan, housing loan, health insurance.
- Customer Service
Twitter has become a great customer service tool across many businesses and banking is no exception. Banks that are active in engaging with their customers over social media like Twitter about their products, real time search can be helpful in addressing problems with customers. A visible Twitter account can be a quick and easy step in the customer service chain when people want to get specific information.
- Product Research
A social network like Twitter is undeniably powerful research and development resource. The marketing department in bank use social media tool ‘Twitter’ to take a look at their customer’s needs and use that to build new products and services. Research like online surveys, arranging Q/A sessions on bank’s Twitter account are helpful to identify which features and benefits are important and which combination will be provided to satisfy customers.
- Community Building
The world is changing, and banks are trying to foster community. Community Building is something that banks should be doing more of because many of the most important moments in our lives from attending college, to buying our first cars and building a home, to starting a business and saving for retirement all involve a relationship with bank. Focusing on customer service and adopting the personality of the people they serve, banks are really developing close relationship with the customers. Twitter gives the ability to respond in a timely manner to customers. By twitting about the contents, new products, charities, research is helpful in community building. Banks track the engagement records on Twitter.
The advantage that social media provides businesses is the availability of user profile information. Users of social media services like Facebook usually provide demographic information as well as information about their preferences. This makes the task of advertising in this medium far easier to advertising on search. On search, the only real information available is query keywords and navigational content over time whereas in Facebook, one can find the users’ location, gender, their likes, dislikes, and who their friends are.
Viral marketing is a popular brand of marketing designed for online use. The idea is to target certain individuals in a network with promotional campaigns, and let them propagate the message through the network. The initial choices are made to optimize the spread so that they can access as many users as possible with the message. This is more efficient than sending the message to each individual independently as that only contributes to spam. As there is enormous information available about users, their preferences, previous posts and their friendship links, it is possible to discern the product preferences of particular users, which makes it easier to design viral marketing strategies and in particular, improve the selection of targets. Users who are extremely popular and have many friends are usually good targets for campaigns.
But to gain any real value from social networks, banks must dig deeper. Targeted sales pitches, cross selling of services, effective customer support, even applying CRM capabilities all require significant changes in banks’ technology infrastructure and related processes and controls.
About the Author
Senior Manager (Faculty), Union Bank of India
Staff Training Centre, Kolkata
Author is a Faculty in the Union Bank of India Staff Training Centre at Kolkata. He has got about 10 years of experience in various facets of banking. He is a Graduate in Mathematics and post Graduate in Computer Science.