Over the last few years we've seen social media grow from the job of a junior person on Twitter to something that requires strategy, planning, technology. It's birthed entire departments, or at least the cultivation of professional skills. Business leaders are trying to understand it, and willing to put the resources behind the cause.
The degree to which people need to be involved varies, explains Andrew Caravella, VP of marketing at Sprout Social, a social media software business. Companies need to understand their customers and where they are interacting in social. In many cases, there's a strong rationale to listening to the conversations in financial institutions.
45% of online US adults who have a Twitter account are interested in interacting with financial services firms via Twitter. Equally important; of advisors that use Facebook, the majority of them say they use it to enhance current client relationships.
The will for social interaction can't be ignored. Institutions are beginning to train people in front office departments on various social media platforms, like Hootsuite, and educating social people in marketing so they can talk intelligently about front-end matters.
In the end, industries are seeking an efficient and effective way to engage and create happier customers. Caravella explains, "You can't just buy a software management system and let it run, that's not viable. Especially for larger organizations of scale, it's becoming a lot to manage. Volume is increasing and so are the messages that warrant response. There's an overall cost of engagement."
Level Playing Field
Social, by nature, is very much about conversations. Other forms of marketing are very mass scale and one way, but social is like no other -- it's a 2 way conversation any way you cut it. "It creates an even playing field," says Caravella. "Chase bank has the same status as me, we both have 140 characters. From a brand and industry perspective that's very intimidating." Mix in rules and regulations and it's natural for banks to be hesitant about engaging in conversation around money, even if customers are asking for it.
Social Media Consolidation
Because social is not very top level or a high level technology it's not uncommon to see marketing using one social media tool while another department uses another. "It can quickly spiral out of control." Caravella says the average company uses 10-12 tools to manage Twitter alone.
"It doesn't allow for internal collaboration, standard metrics, nothing is collated in a uniform way," he explains. Naturally, if you're using different tools and none of those tools are coordinated, you wont know how you're doing across the social channels. The analytics compete with competitor analytics, leaving managers without a clear idea of what's going on.
Senior level managers are taking notice, asking more specific questions about what tools the company is using, questioning the cost and resource efficiency. "What we're starting to see is a bit of consolidation. I don't think there's a holy grail that can do everything from start to finish but companies are scaling back to a handful of tools that do more, and allow all people in the organization to work together collaboratively."
"There's a lot of momentum towards consolidation, " he concludes, "but I don't think we're there yet."