by Jimmy Marks
Look at your watch. Let eight seconds go by. Boom - another social media consultant has just appeared and has come up with an article about how much impact social media has on people's finances.
It's getting a little crazy. It seems like every time we turn around, we get one more guy saying that users of X social media site are Y% more likely to put their money in your credit union than any other human being alive. Whoops, another eight seconds went by, that's another guy yelling about how all those Facebook fans you have are the same as alternative capital!
Let's get serious for just a second. We've been talking social media for the last two posts (if you haven't read them, go do it). Come to think of it, we've been talking about social media for the last two YEARS. But we've never really taken the time to look at the impact "social finance" and whether or not there were numbers and trends you could count on when it comes to social media and online finance.
America (Banking) Online
Louis Hernandez at Open Solutions wrote an article (It Takes a (Global) Village: How to Use Social Media - CUJournal, 4/19/10) about social media. Some interesting facts about deposit balances and social network users (most of which, it seems, were culled from a report by Raddon Financial Group):
- MySpace users have the lowest amounts on average, with $11,891.
- LinkedIn users has the most with $29,794
- Twitter users had $20,562 on average
- The average Facebook user has $19,339, but daily Facebook users average about $16,586.
I found these numbers surprisingly high, given that we only started seeing a resurgence in savings in the past year-and-a-half or so.
I differed to Ron (Daly, my boss), who said "Ask what the average amount is among people who want nothing to do with this stuff." He's betting it's going to be a lot more. Anybody got numbers, comment on this article and let us know.
Other interesting numbers regarding getting financial advice via social:
- Only two percent of consumers have interacted with their FI while visiting a social networking site.
- Three percent would be interested in taking advice from a blog or SM site.
- Only four percent said they had solicited advice about finance from a social media site.
Some fresh perspective from Jeffry Pilcher's Financial Brand blog, which ran a "Datahead" article about online banking and social finance (his data's from Forbes, Mintel and ComScore to be clear):
- 76% of online banking users have visited a branch in the past two months, while 68% have visited an ATM and 37% have called their call center. Mr. Hernandez's article says there's been a drop-off in branch visits even between '08 and '09, but 76% is still plenty high.
- 75% of members/customers don't realize their bank/CU has online banking. Half of those that DO realize there's online banking USE online banking. That's 12.5% of consumers that are actively using OLB on average. But 87% of those are accessing OLB more than once per week.
- Half of all online banking users have mobile internet on their phone and less than half of those access their bank's services online from said phone - so, on average, about 23% of consumers are accessing their bank's site via mobile.
- 65% of members wanted to get emails about their accounts(!) while only 8% wanted account updates via social media.
On this evidence, I'm willing to make a few guesses about where social media fits in the big picture.
1) Social media is good for ad hoc feedback, event coordination and notification, casual chat and (maybe) some selling. But most folks don't want advice from their social networks. And it's not specifically the networks, it's the people using said network.
Think about it - do you want to talk about your Roth IRA or your Mortgage with the person who keeps sending you "Which Twilight Character Are YOU!?!?!?11?!" Quiz on Facebook? No, you don't. At least, I HOPE you don't. You trust a few people in this world to tell you what you should do with money, and that conversation doesn't have to happen in front of an audience of hundreds.
According to this article from eMarketer Daily, the number of people using social media is going to be growing to about 66% by 2014. Getting a foot in the door now is smart, given that the trend is increasing and the risk is relatively low, but expecting it to be "the fix" for your institution is unrealistic. People don't start a financial relationship with some bank or CU that they found on Facebook. They go find their bank on Facebook because they already have a relationship with them.
People are loyal to a dependable product first, its associated brand second. Slap a member or customer with $200 worth of fees and all the social media in the world won't make a difference - they'll feel cheated and complain, and might even leave. Doesn't matter if they brought it on themselves -they're going to say it's your fault.
2) OLB, email and websites all need to be better. There's a reason you started offering online bill pay/banking, eStatements, eLerts and so on. It's because the more people are leaning on your online channel, the less they have to come all the way to the branch to deal with their money issues. Little things like transferring money between accounts and making payments are time sucks for a branch - let people work it out from home.
Emails, eStatements and online notices are popular (it's why we exist), but we still have people who are on the fence about communicating with members via email. Why? What's stopping you? You don't have to put a ton of personal info into the thing and you aren't spamming anyone. "We might get phished," you say? Yeah, you might. But if you're actively engaging members with emails and getting them accustomed to what an email from you looks like, you're training them about what the real messages look like versus a fake one. Come on, people, it's 2010. "I'm scared of email" stopped being a valid excuse in 1998. Get in there.
If your OLB, emails and websites aren't up to snuff, you're missing out. This is Web 1.0 stuff, and 2.0 is about to hit the bricks in favor of Web 3.0 (does that blow your mind, because it should). You're going to see the big banks and their big websites increase functionality in the next few years, and as Robbie Wright of CU Innovators recently said:
I will immediately think poorly of a product if they have a crappy looking website. crappy site=crappy product
Let's just cut to the chase: you have a budget of $1 million. You can spend it on your websites and online banking, or on your social media initiatives. You can only spend it these two ways, and you can split it any way you choose. What are you going to spend it on, knowing what you know now?
Talk to me, people.