A new report analyses the social media landscape in 2018. With social media such an integral part of today’s marketing campaigns, understanding what delivers a successful approach is essential.
What drives web traffic? What delivers the greatest number of interactions? What are people talking about?
Understanding all of this is central to creating your own successful strategy. Here we explore the state of social media today.
The social outlook
The State of Social Report 2018, published by Brandwatch, studied social engagement, consumer insights, trends and brand health across 13 industries by looking at their social media activity.
An average day on Twitter and Facebook
The report examines an ‘average’ day on Twitter, looking at numbers of followers, retweets, shares, replies and comments.
You can compare your social media performance – and audience reactions to it – against the rest of your industry. Television accounts are shown to have the most followers, followed by fashion and consumer technology-focused ones.
Using social media to measure brand health
The report also looks at how social media can be used to measure the health of a brand or industry. It points out that ‘As a huge source of unfiltered consumer thought, social media analysis should be the first step in monitoring your brand health’.
It can be used to identify whether your customers are satisfied with your brand’s promise, and how they engage with your brand, products and services. Is this better or worse than the rest of your industry? If you sell online, are there any parts of your buyer journey that are particularly weak and cause online complaints?
The report examines the emotions and sentiment around brands and industries – finding that the alcohol industry has been the most positively discussed in 2018 – with the World Cup’s influence on alcohol sales having an impact.
Financial services ranked among the most negatively discussed, alongside hotel and pharmaceutical/healthcare brands. We look in more detail below at how financial services compares to other sectors on social media.
An in-depth look at sector-specific social performance
As we can see from the chart above, financial services performs particularly poorly in terms of the sentiment of conversations on social media. Nearly half of all conversations and interactions on financial services accounts are negative, compared to less than 20% on fashion accounts.
Financial services social media brands covered include Aviva, HSBC, Nationwide, and Wells Fargo.
Some of the negative social media activity relating to financial services include mentions of ‘boycotts’ of several brands, along with ‘#2a’, a reference to a US social movement in support of the 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution.
The average financial services consumer on social media is more likely to be male, to work in business or technology, and to be interested in politics.
Optimise your brand online
In its conclusion, the report says that ‘It’s fundamental for brands to understand how their company fits into the lives of their customers’ and claims that ‘An overlooked part of that knowledge is the understanding of how your company and industry fits in the larger online landscape’.
Understanding the social media landscape, and your organisation’s role in it, is essential to understanding your customers and clients.
The report says that ‘Every touchpoint, every interaction your customers have with your brand should shape your marketing, sales and overall business strategies’ because ‘Understanding who those customers are and how they experience your products, your competitors, and brand outside your industry are the cornerstones to connecting and keeping them’.
Social media is therefore not just a vital aspect of your marketing strategy, but a way of informing the rest of your approach.
A compliant approach to social media
Of course, for many in financial services, regulatory pressures add another layer to consider when planning a social media strategy. In order to comply with the FCA guidance you need to ensure you understand the regulator’s requirements and build your strategy to fit.To do this, you need to:
1. Have a clear and documented social media policy
Which sets out not only who should post, but the style, tone, content and frequency of posts. Creating a social media style guide can help to ensure clarity here.
2. Make sure everyone has appropriate training
Anyone authorised to post on your corporate account needs to have appropriate training, to ensure they understand both your corporate rules and the regulatory limitations.
3. Consider whether social media is the best channel
Because of its character limitations, social media may not always be the best channel for your message.
4. Be ‘fair, clear and not misleading’
Meeting the FCA requirement that financial promotions must be ‘fair, clear and not misleading’ is vital. Get a feel for what will be approved by reading our tips on writing content that Compliance can approve.
5. Understand the rules on risk warnings
The FCA last updated its social media guidance in March 2015, where one change introduced was the need for risk warnings on social media posts. The FCA guidance has some helpful examples of tweets that would be compliant and non-compliant.
6. Get Compliance approval for your posts
Because the FCA views social media as a financial promotion, your tweets and posts need the same Compliance team sign off as any other materials. You might want to explore introducing an element of automation to make the compliance review process faster and more robust.
7. Watch out for hashtags
The 2015 guidance from the FCA also changed the rules on hashtags. You will need to be familiar with the rules so you can explain them to your business.
There is clearly more that the financial services sector can do to engage clients and prospects on social media, and to respond to negative sentiment. For regulated firms, doing this within the confines of the FCA’s rules adds another aspect to consider when planning a strategy.
For more on how to ensure your social media is compliant, you can read our blog on How to minimise compliance risk in your social media strategy.