A bigmouthmedia survey has identified the UK Finance sector’s biggest users of online social networking tools and confounded many expectations by revealing that the Finance sector has embraced the social media phenomenon more readily than those in other established industries. Some 74% of the leading executives surveyed regularly engage in the use of tools such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, a statistic which demonstrates the extent to which a normally conservative sector has adopted the latest working trends.
Their performance compares extremely favourably with that of leading executives in the FTSE 100. In a bigmouthmedia survey earlier this year, of the FTSE executives sampled only 25% actively engaged in social networking, compared to 85% of business leaders representing companies from the Sunday Times Fast Track 100.
“The evidence clearly shows that the Britain’s financial businesses are rapidly coming to terms with the social media revolution. However, there is still over a 10% gap between the use of social media by finance execs and those in Fast Track companies,” said Chris Cathcart, Senior Finance Strategist at bigmouthmedia.
“I believe it is key for finance execs with a focus on digital marketing to understand the social sphere more. A targeted and strategic social media campaign can not only help build better brand relations with customers, but can also highlight easily fixed customer based issues and create greater brand loyalty, not to mention a beneficial impact on organic search results.”
While the social media has been one of 2009’s most hyped phenomena, little evidence exists as to what extent businesses are deriving benefits from the plethora of available services. However, bigmouthmedia’s survey indicates that leading industry players are increasingly using social networking as part of the essential business toolkit.
The research revealed that former Lloyds TSB Head of Innovation James Gardner is the finance sector executive who has most readily adopted social networking as a means to communicate with colleagues and the public. Gardner, who recently moved to the Department for Work and Pensions, uses LinkedIN, Twitter, Facebook, Plaxo and a blog to reach out to past, present and future customers.
Gardner emerged as eventual winner in front of a field that included Martin Peterlechner at Tesco Personal Finance, HBOS head of banking Mike Regnier and Stephan Daquaire of Swiftcover.com.
LinkedIn emerged as the finance executive’s networking tool of choice, with 76% of those surveyed using the service.
Linus Gregoriadis, research director at Internet marketing research and training company Econsultancy, said: “It’s great to see financial services company executives really involved with social media. This sector has historically been quite slow to engage in new digital channels but, in recent months, there are some great examples of financial services brands who have been really dynamic.
“An example which springs to mind is First Direct, which showcases customer opinions and sentiment about its brand and has created a great multichannel campaign around this. Engagement through social media has been a way for banks to differentiate themselves, but is now fast becoming something which is essential rather than a ‘nice-to-have’. You need to have a presence where your customers are, and this applies to all business sectors.
“There is no set formula around what works with social media so companies need to experiment and see what works for them. Whether the objectives are around hard financial targets or softer, brand-building goals, companies need to have metrics in place which help them to measure their success and build the business case for further investment.”