Involving: Social media in financial services

Delegates arriving at Sibos 2010 in Amsterdam

I got back from Sibos 2010 last week. For those of you who don’t know the event, it’s a financial services conference and exhibition that SWIFT runs on an annual basis. We’re proud to say that it continues to attract record numbers of people – nearly 9,000 last week in Amsterdam. The main reason – and we know this from our post-event surveys – that people come is “networking”. “Doing business” and “learning” come a close 2nd and 3rd but “networking” consistently tops the list.

So, given that so many people in financial services are willing to spend a week of their time – and a not inconsiderable sum on travel and attendance – each year to be part of the “networking” of Sibos, I was left wondering why the use of social media in financial services is still so relatively low?

I think a lot of this has to do with culture. Despite what recent headlines would have you believe, bankers are, for the most part, a pretty risk-averse bunch. They’re not naturally drawn to a technology or channel which may expose them or their organisations to public scrutiny.

Slowly but surely, it looks like that’s beginning to change though. This year’s Sibos was widely regarded as the year that Twitter finally started influencing the interaction at the event (indeed SWIFT’s CEO referenced it in his closing remarks) and the event also saw the first conference session specifically devoted to the use of social media.

It’s timely then that Cognito has just put out a report on the use of social media within the top 50 financial technology companies.

You can download a copy of the report here but the key takeaways are:

  • The most widely used social media among Finextra50 Companies is LinkedIn.
  • Twitter is being used by 46% of the Finextra50 Companies.
  • Company news, events, and new product information are the most commonly tweeted subjects.
  • 8% of Finextra50 Companies have a Facebook account.
  • 28% of Finextra50 Companies have company blog(s).
  • YouTube channels are being used by 20% of the Finextra50 companies

What’s still lacking though, in my view, is real engagement and interaction. I’d like to see financial services firms embrace the true purpose of social media, not just add it to the list of channels to be populated.



2 Comments so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. really interesting. Our view is that the inherent properties of social media make them highly effective for all b2b and none more so than financial services. Problems are people don’t think their clients use social media, it can be intimidating and that firms need to learn to communicate. We feel that early adopters can steal a march on the competition. also, whilst senior professionals don’t necessarily use social channels at the moment, they do use Google. Now that Google (especially google realtime) brings in social content high up the page, companies will need to tweet etc to ensure they remain high in search engine rankings. so not participating in social channels might well make you less visible on google. this should be a helpful driver.

    • Thanks for the comment, Tom.

      Your point about Google is a very good one. As you say, now that Google indexes social media content, you don’t need to ‘use’ social media channels to come across content from them. But I would caution against using social media just to make useful visible on Google. As I was trying to convey with my last sentence, I think companies are wasting their time with social media unless they use it to interact – and really get involved – with their customers and prospective customers.

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