Data You Can Bank On

Very few people seem to express warm, fuzzy feelings about banks. In fact, they are more likely to have cold, prickly feelings about them. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, financial services institutions suffered a 20 point drop in public trust in 2018. 

So what can banks do to try to attract and retain loyalty? Aside from asking banking customers directly, how would banks find out what people really think of what they’re doing? They could tap into social data. That’s what Crimson Hexagon did with in a report that compares two bank brands: BNP Paribas and Santander. 

The report is based on an exploration of five years’ worth of online conversations related to these two large bank brands.  Data was culled from “Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, blogs and forums – a wide range of locations where consumers gather to discuss various topics.” Specifically, they focused on the following for each:

• Conversation volume and sentiment

• Major topics driving conversation

• Key audiences involved in conversation

• Other interests of these audiences 

Ratio of positive to negative

What it found was that BNP Paribas has been able to maintain a pretty good ratio of 75 percent positive conversations to 25 percent negative ones. In contrast, Santander showed an almost even split with 51 percent positive to 49 percent negative. But context is important, and the report adds this: “Considering the much higher conversation volume for Santander, this is not a bad achievement.” 

Who’s talking? 

The majority  (67 percent) of  people talking about BNP Paribas are male, and most of them are at least 35 years old. There were only 473 posts from people in the age range of 18 to 34, though that comprises two distinct age groups:18 to 24, as well as 25 to 34. There were actually more posts (1382) from the 17-and-under crowd. That could indicate that the bank has some appeal for teens. I would guess they may have been directed to the bank by their parents in the 35-plus range who account for over 25,000 posts. 

Santander offers a somewhat increased mirror image of this population distribution because it draws on a much larger base. It has the same percentage split between males and females. The most conversations appear among the those 35+ with much less activity in the age range of 18-34, and some significant representation (17,151 posts to be precise) among the 17-and-under group. 

Let’s give them something to talk about 

The BNP Paribas’ audience exhibits a range of interests that seems inclined toward innovation and exploration.  “Sustainability, information technology, software development and blockchain are popular interests, along with a wide range of international destinations.”  That gives the bank a pretty clear idea of a distinctly defined set of topics around which to focus content intended to engage its audience. 

Some of these interests are duplicated in the Santander group, though they check off more boxes of interests. “Common finance related topics show up, such as investment management and buying a home, alongside others like writing, theater and social enterprise.” The report concludes that this “audience is more varied and less technical than that of BNP Paribas,” which is really only to be expected when you have greater reach that would include a larger number of people. 

The challenge in engaging this more varied audience would be tailoring the content to the specific interests of the person within the larger group. But it is still possible to get the attention of a more diverse audience in talking to them about interests that overlap with banking. In the case of Santander, the report finds clear interest in “home improvement and investment management.” These relate directly to banking products like home equity loans or financial investments, and that can give the bank a good basis on which to address their audience. 

By tapping into social conversations, businesses no longer have to rely on surveys filled out by just a tiny fraction of their customers. They can draw on that data to get to know who their customers are, what makes them tick, and how they’re responding to the business. On the basis of that insight, they know how to effectively connect with their customers to foster more positive feelings and loyalty.

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