Looking to leverage social media data to their own advantage banks and other financial institutions have begun mining the sites for customer data. What they hope to gain is an insight into the personal and financial lives of the users of social media: who has a checking account, a savings account, a 401k plan, whatever. This infomration could then be used to find new customers for products the bank has to offer. Is it the best use of social media? No. In fact, I believe that if corporations aren’t careful about how they use social media they could end up driving people away from the very sites they hope to operate in because of the huge audience.
The point is, on social media sites, thousands of conversations are going on, and some of them are about your bank. (Actually, it’s often more of a random spewing of personal opinions, thoughts and article links to an audience that may or may not be listening.) Within this mass of communication lies a wealth of useful information for banks — insights into where they’re falling short in customer service; which products, websites and mobile apps customers love or hate; what their share of voice is compared to competitors (that is, how often they’re mentioned versus their competitors); and how their marketing messages are coming across.
Banks such as Citi, SunTrust, First Tennessee and ING Direct not only are listening to the conversations and chiming in where appropriate, they’re analyzing the conversations to uncover ways to improve their business, with the help of monitoring and analytics software. “A year ago, banks thought their customers might be in social media sites and that there might be a few people talking about their banking experience online, but it wasn’t enough to necessitate a strategy,” observes Zach Hofer-Shall, an analyst at Forrester Research. “Now, just 12 months later, it’s big, and a lot of banks are doing something. But a lot of what they’re doing is behind-the-scenes research or measurement.”
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