Best Twitter Followers. Know Your Followers (KYF) is to social media in financial services what Know Your Customers (KYC) is to compliance.
How many of your twitter followers or facebook fans are already your clients? Among those audiences, who are the most influential followers (activity, size of audience)? Who among your fans contribute the most frequently on your facebook page or who RT (ReTweet) or talk about you the most on twitter?
If you can’t answer all those questions, I suggest you to read the rest of this post.
Earlier in my career, I used to head up the International Sales Operations for a leading provider of international payments routing information and anti-money laundering solutions. And a few years ago, I headed up online sales at one of the largest retail banks in the UK. This is when I got very familiar with the almighty topic of “Know Your Customers” (KYC) dear to your Compliance team and the Regulator, and the value of leveraging existing client relationships to increase share of wallet versus the challenge of acquiring new customers.
I will use those two experiences to articulate my post about a notion I’ve come up with a couple of years ago during my speaking engagements, Know Your Fans/Followers (KYF).
Compliance – Understanding Who Your Prospects & Clients Are
First, let’s start with KYC. This is something you have to do as part of your due diligence before and after sending a payment or starting a new client relationship. This is now entrenched in the bank’s internal processes and the bank knows that not only could there be a massive financial penalty, but more importantly, a huge impact on the reputational risk, hence the potential brand damage could be of dramatic significance and a major PR challenge to overcome.
Most financial institutions approach social media as a new type of risk. All those conversations online are perceived as a risk to the bank. The real questions should be: wouldn’t it be better to reach out to your customers proactively and be aware of negative comments, recurrent complains and fix them on your own terms instead of finding out about them on a popular detractor, like very visible websites?
After all, our business as bankers is to manage risk isn’t it? So the first step in social media is to monitor your eReputation: listen to online conversations and identify your influencers. But this is not easy and not necessarily the most efficient way to kick start your quest for User/Customer Generated Content (cf my blog post “Capturing & Leveraging the Voice Of the Customer: Are you Proactive or Reactive”).
Sales – Maximizing Share of Wallet of Your Existing Customers
In sales, pretty much every single brand understand the importance of retaining existing clients, which cost far less than winning new ones. Moreover satisfied clients will spontaneously recommend your company around them.
To do so, you can have sticky products, provide amazing services, the best customer support, involve your customers more in product co-creation and ask for their feedback, demonstrate your listening capabilities and your care. This is another reason to leverage social media. You must be where your customers are. And it’ll increase your ability as a company to better understand the constantly higher expectations, the new tone of voice to use, and your ability to adapt to the next generation social network or revolutionary communication platform.
Leverage Social Media and Build Engaged Communities (Volume vs Quality)
Monitoring eReputation and building sizable communities on sites such as facebook or twitter are two of the biggest trends in social media in banking, financial services and insurance.
More and more financial institutions want to be on facebook or twitter and leverage the fantastic popularity of those services, but they don’t know how to interact and more importantly how to convert those communities into brand champions or new customers.
In my opinion, it is important to have an official presence on all the most popular services, if for no other reason than to take control of your online presence. We could talk about reasons why you are on those networks, your content strategy, the contributors, opening your page or not, but today, I’ll talk about better understanding and leveraging your existing community.
Banks talk about volume, they launch marketing campaigns and other facebook games to quickly increase the size of their audience, but at which cost? And what about the quality of your fan base? A bit like an internet site, if your application processes are broken as a Head of Online Sales you don’t want any more people reaching the site. You may want more qualified traffic. You especially want to sell more to online banking customers: you know them, the application processes are shorter, you can better target them, and they have a propensity to increase share of wallet…
It has been a few years I’ve came up with the term of ‘Know Your Followers/Fans’ (KYF) and stressed its importance in the social media space. This is not necessarily from a risk point of view, but mainly from a missed opportunity. There is this obsession with size on sites like facebook or twitter. Yes, it is important to reach a critical mass of followers or fans, and size matters in that respect. Nevertheless, it’s better to have a smaller engaged and caring community instead of a huge audience of inactive, fake accounts and competitors, wouldn’t you agree?
99% of the time, when I asked the social media or digital teams at banks and insurance companies who are their fans on facebook or their followers on twitter, I got no answer: how many of those fans are clients? How many actually care about the brand, and therefore are potentially excellent prospects? How many are competitors or inactive?
A bit like I’m so adamant and passionate about customer generated content and capturing the voice of the customer, I am a strong believer in the untapped opportunity of KYF.
Especially on twitter and facebook: the bigger the audience, the more challenging to understand who those people are. Even for blogging: who spends time to leaving comments? Is it always the same people?
And remember, nobody is doing it so it is still a fantastic differentiator in the hyped social media space.
Let’s step back for a minute. We must think about building long term relationships, and shift away from campaigns. So how do you increase satisfaction, drive retention and advocacy, and increase acquisition at the back of it? Demonstrate you listen and more importantly that you care.
As usual, your goal is to identify your influencers (detractors and advocates), and start building a relationship with them as soon as possible. What’s their key area of expertise? One of your first actions should be to identify and put together a list of key influencers. Then you define and implement a communications / outreach strategy to connect with them. You produce content of interest, make them aware of it. You must REWARD your fan for their contributions…