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Banks ignore social media

By Marcie Geffner ·
Monday, November 14, 2011
Posted: 5 pm ET

Bank customers who voice their praise or scorn on social media websites might be disappointed to learn that many major financial institutions don't bother to monitor social media or don't feel that these conversation are important.

Indeed, banks and financial institutions are behind the curve in the use of social media as a means of communication. They are catching up, but their efforts are hindered by uncertainty about how best to use social media, confusion about regulatory responsibilities and concerns about losing control of their messages.

In keeping with their generally old-fashioned ways, banking institutions still view print publications, newswires and other traditional outlets as the most important and valuable way of communicating with their customers, investors and other stakeholders.

Those conclusions come from a new report, "Social Media: Catching Up with the Banks," by MHP Communications, a public relations firm headquartered in London. The report was based on an August 2011 survey of chief publicity managers at 35 global retail and investment banks.

Seventy-five percent of the respondents said they used social media as a source of information about what was happening. Forty-two percent said they used social media for sales and marketing activities. But only 25 percent utilized social media as a direct means to connect with customers. Nearly half also said social media was an extension of public relations, a function generally more concerned with news reporters than customers.

Only 4 percent of the surveyed companies said they controlled most of the social media conversations about their own brands. Far higher proportions said no such relevant conversations were happening or they weren't involved in those conversations.

Fifteen percent didn't monitor social media at all. Others said they used some social media-monitoring tools, but again, the percentages were relatively low. Nineteen percent didn't know whether their company monitored social media conversations or not, the survey found.

The bottom line for bank customers seems to be that while social media can be a convenient way to broadcast a comment or complaint to one's friends and other consumers, it might not be a great way to be heard by the companies themselves.

Follow me on Twitter: @marciegeff.

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1 Comment
Jeffry Pilcher | The Financial Brand
November 16, 2011 at 11:05 am

Misleading (but provocative) headline. In the MHP report, all 35 out of 35 banks utilized social media to some extent. Hard to see how that equates to "ignoring" it.