by Tony Vidler
I continually see reports and articles suggesting that despite personal use of social media the market penetration of various social media networks by businesses generally is not that great. For financial services it seems to be lower than average, and that is certainly reflected in what I personally witness in adviser use of social media marketing. It seems fair to conclude then that social media:
1. Is still relatively under-utilised by consumers and businesses alike for financial services. Even when it is being used, it is overwhelmingly poorly used.
2. Social media needs to be a core part of a future-orientated engagement strategy for such firms given its reach and use amongst consumers
In relative terms I believe that this is still “blue sky” territory for financial services marketing.
For example, as a relatively active user of Twitter for business I can attest that my analytics verify one level of the participation rate. Only about 3% of my Twitter followers are actually New Zealand based (where I am also) – That is just on 400 NZ followers. The average number of followers a Twitter user has is apparently 707….so the level of of support being attained by me in my home country is less than the average number of followers any Twitter user has…but to be fair, that might just be a reflection of me. Maybe I’m a poor account to follow. Or maybe my messaging resonates better with Australians where there are approximately 2,500 followers…but as far as I can figure out more than half of the NZ advisers who have a Twitter account follow me. That says that there are not many NZ advisers with Twitter accounts, right? Maybe only 10% of them do.
But there are apparently over 8,000 independent advisers in NZ and something like 19,000 advisers left standing in Australia – so my penetration rate in NZ is around 5% with this social media channel, but around 13% in Australia.
What does all this tell us?
Well to begin with it tells us that there is a lot of advisers simply not tuned in to channels that consumers are using. Some 12.48% of the NZ population are using Twitter and about 24% of the Australian population. The limited analytics and data that is available on who is using social media, and to what extent, does support the view that there is vast scope for increased use and levels of engagement with customers.
I’ve been focussing on a single social media channel here as an example only, but similar patterns would be evident with many other platforms that are important to consumers. For example; I see very very few advisers using Instagram in any meaningful way, and yet that is the dominant platform for a whole cohort of the population. The empirical view is that engagement levels (outside of Facebook) by financial advisers in most “mainstream” scoial media chanels are still remarkably low.
Anybody wanting to increase their business exposure to savvy customers needs to be seriously looking at the social networks and assessing them on the basis of where their ideal clients are likely to be engaging or seeking information. Different demographics are definitely adopting different channels as their main source of information. The smart financial services business owner will be working out how to master those channels and be continually working on building a trusted and credible presence on them.
This is where all the customers your business could want are watching, listening and interacting. Those businesses with a strong and trusted brand presence on those social networks are up to 3 times more likely to be purchased than businesses who are not there according to one report from McKinsey.
The logic seems remarkably clear and compelling: Social networks are where huge volumes of consumers go to interact with each other. It is still nowhere near a saturated market, and there is relatively little competition for savvy professional services marketers to create a strong credible presence at next to no cost.
It presents one of the best opportunities today to engage multitudes of potential customers with minimal effort or cost, on a largely personalized basis. For those who do make the effort, there is a disproportionate chance of getting a good business return by becoming the trusted advice brand of choice for customers.
Yet, despite the numbers….the obvious trend…..the latent opportunity….social networks remain the secret marketing opportunity that few advisers take advantage of.
It is still blue sky territory really.