Using Social Listening to Understand Your Audience

By Doug Wilber

As more and more people rely solely on digital channels to meet their banking needs, the importance of social media as a two-way communication channel grows. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other platforms offer unique opportunities for candid, trackable feedback from customers, and social listening is becoming a more valuable marketing and customer service tool for banks.

This ear-to-the-ground approach helps financial institutions better understand their audience members—and therefore be better prepared to serve them. A solid social listening strategy eliminates the need to operate on assumptions or educated guesswork. It gives marketers the chance to look at actual consumer data and use that data to maximize ROI.

Many banks, however, have yet to capitalize on social media as an engagement tool that benefits both parties. If you’re using social media to do nothing more than blast out news and announcements, it’s time to update your approach. It’s time to listen.

Keeping an ear to the ground

To build a solid social listening strategy that brings in real data and boosts ROI, start with these three steps.

  1. Find out what people are saying about your brand.

You want people to talk about your brand on social—that means consumers know who you are. But there’s always the chance that what they’re saying isn’t entirely positive. If that’s the case, you need to know as soon as possible and remedy the issue before it permanently burns your reputation.

If people are engaging in positive dialogue about your brand, you want to know about that, too. This can help you figure out where to focus your efforts, which products and services are the most useful, and what aspects of your business garner the most engagement.

Keeping track of every company mention on social media may sound time-consuming and overwhelming, but modern tools make it easy. Social media management software can help you not only track what people are saying about your brand, but also categorize results as positive, negative, or neutral to help you gauge perceptions.

  1. Respond to feedback genuinely and promptly.

Without responses, conversations only go one way. If you’re going to listen to what your consumers have to say about your brand, products and services, then you need to be prepared to respond in a thoughtful manner—quickly. Consider that 66% of millennials say that their loyalty toward a brand is impacted by that brand’s speed of response. You can capitalize on this by being as prepared as possible.

Once you get a feel for the most common customer comments on your social channels, whether they’re complaints or compliments, put together a list of preapproved responses. That way, the engagement can happen quickly and customers will feel heard and valued. In order to address comments that can’t be streamlined, make sure there’s a hierarchy of approval in place and clearly delegate who’s in charge of reviewing and posting replies.

  1. Pay close attention to compliance.

Electronic communication in the financial industry is heavily regulated by the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council—or FFIEC. This includes not only your original social posts, but also your replies and engagement on social media.

Be sure to stay up-to-date on compliance demands and procedures. Stay a step ahead by documenting consumer comments as well as your replies on third-party websites and exporting these reports as PDFs. Keep these reports in one secure location. This way, if you’re audited, you’ll be able to present archived material easily. Additionally, keep an eye out for accounts that may be impersonating your brand through other websites or social profiles. Report any suspicious activity as soon as you see it.

Listening is at the core of all successful communication, and if you truly want to serve your audience members, you must listen to what they need. Social media is where they’ll tell you. Develop a social listening strategy that keeps you informed about brand perceptions, allows for quick and thoughtful responses, and safeguards you from compliance concerns, and you’ll be well on your way to a significant boost in ROI.

Doug Wilber is the CEO of Gremlin Social, an integrated solution that combines social media marketing with ABA-endorsed compliance tools to make it easy for financial services companies to master the social media landscape and engage customers using social networks. Gremlin Social helps ensure safe use of social media communication while maximizing social marketing campaigns, guiding strategies, and monitoring returns on investment. Doug has worked in the fintech space for more than a decade and has experience working with Discover Financial Services,, and Assembly Payments, among others. He’s also advised a number of fintech-focused startups in the Greater St. Louis area