A recent survey by Celent has uncovered some interesting statistics that may shed some light on how financial services firms in Japan differ from their Western counterparts in their use of social media platforms. According to this survey, about 88 percent of all Japanese financial services firms are using social media platforms to reach their customers. In fact, more than half of those are using several social media networks simultaneously. This is a particularly interesting fact when one considers that Western banks have been particularly slow in adopting social media as an effective way of reaching their customers.
A deeper look at these surprising statistics
While banks in many countries are just starting to move towards social media networks in order to provide their customers with better services and to advertise to potential new clients, almost all Japanese banks have a robust social media presence. This interest in social media among banks has grown impressively in the last couple of years, with many banks now using social media networks as a core part of their overall marketing and services strategy. The survey examined social media usage trends as well as patterns in social media consumption in the Japanese market. The results were surprising.
How Japanese banks are using social media platforms to their advantage
The main advantage that social media networks offer banks is allowing them to communicate with their customers in real time, making it an extremely efficient form of market research as well as a great platform for providing certain services. According to respondents of this survey, social media networks have also had a great impact in improving financial institutions’ brands and their recognition among the public. Other ways in which social media networks have helped Japanese banks include allowing better communication between people involved within a single financial institution, as well as improving the efficiency of offline interactions by allowing many transactions to be completed online by the customers or employees themselves.
Interest in social media among Japanese financial firms is projected to grow in the future. Those banks not involved in social media show strong interest in participating while those already using social media to their advantage are looking for ways to expand to a strategy involving multiple social media platforms.
How does this differ from how non-Japanese banks utilize social media?
Financial institutions in the United States and Europe have been comparatively slow in adopting social media. According to a similar survey carried out by an independent financial information source used for investment purposes, these banks have a very poor social media strategy. Out of the top fifty banks outside of Japan, the vast majority are using ineffective social media strategies with a token page on Facebook which usually receives no activity. Their attitudes toward other social media platforms also seem to be ineffective.
In fact, about a third of these banks had no Facebook page or profile and the banks that did would not accept friend requests or interact with their users. The statistics for Twitter and YouTube were similar. Only about half of the banks surveyed had active Twitter accounts that were regularly used to post, and about half of those used Twitter to engage with the public about wealth management and financial issues. In the case of YouTube, less than half were using this platform to engage with their audience.
The bottom line
Today, most consumers take social media for granted, considering it is almost a given that most major companies will have an active social media presence. Western banks can learn from Japanese financial firms’ usage of social media. Unlike their Western counterparts, they are active on the same channels as their consumers, reaching them more effectively in the process. It is also important to understand that a strategy that utilizes multiple social media networks is the best since it casts a wider net. Unfortunately, it seems that banks outside Japan have not grasped the core concept of social media usage: an inactive account is worse than no account at all. Social media as used by Japanese financial services firms is a tool for engagement with the public. Setting up an account and abandoning it conveys a poor image of a company to potential customers.
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About the Guest Author:
Nida Rasheed is a freelance writer and owner of an outsourcing company, Nida often finds herself wanting to write about the subjects that are closest to her heart. She lives in Islamabad, Pakistan and can be found on Twitter @nidarasheed.