Wednesday, May 06, 2009

GFC + social media = new religion

How financial services players are turning to social media

With all the hubbub about twitter in conventional media, financial services execs seem suddenly to have found religion. Or at least, the curiosity to search for their social media spirituality.

Shrinking budgets and greater public scrutiny - thanks to the global financial crisis (GFC) - have helped send many of our financial services clients, and their audiences, online.

As investors open superannuation emails or statements, many feel cold hard fear. The fear is that they’ve lost a large amount of their life’s savings with anxiety over whether their super will recover. In such a time, some institutions stand out as using social media well - to contact, educate, reassure or interact with nervous clients and customers. Success of these efforts will partly be judged in the long-term by how many investors stick with their investment strategy, riding out the cycle.

Within the finance sector, Australian banks, perhaps, have least to lose by taking their PR and marketing online. This could be why they’ve made significant steps to do so, fast followed by others such as fund managers and financial planning firms.

So what’s new in financial services online communication since the GFC hit home?
Interactive newsletters and investor reports, weekly email investment updates, bank blogs, regular fund manager video updates or podcasts, ever-better online media centres and far, far better content. There’s a growing realisation that home-grown content must be as good, or better, than what mass media produce. This is particularly important as online communication deals direct with a real, live and sometimes vocal public.

Beyond monitoring social media, the financial services industry is more active in protecting and managing their reputations online. The GFC has been responsible, in some part, for a more sudden shift online.

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