Social Media — Still A Marketing Tool, Not Yet A Channel

Listening to Bob Meara at Celent’s Innovation and Insight  Day last week gave me the distinct impression that social media is quickly maturing as a way for bank’s to talk directly to customers.

I even recently wrote two stories about the dangers financial services companies face when they get in too deep with third-party platforms.

Not so fast, though, Meara tells me.

In an email, he says:

When customer contact mechanisms become “channels”, most banks keep rigorous track of interactions, have [key performance indicators] and are able to access that information later on. To a very large extent, that hasn’t occurred with social media (below). Instead, most banks are merely listening on social and gathering sentiment. Others are using for outbound marketing just as they do with e-mail and direct mail.

That leaves social media in the marketer’s domain — here’s a graph, from Celent, that Meara sent me that seeks to explain the concept:

meara1

So, we see social media viewed as a marketing domain by most banks… As long as marketing owns a mechanism, it isn’t a channel in our view.

Beyond that, “channel” is mostly semantics.

meara2Bob told me it was important to mention this stuff, too:

Source: Celent survey of North American financial institutions, August 2012 (the sample size was 132 banks)

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