Banking and Social Media Easy to Say, Hard to Do

Banking and Social Media Easy to Say, Hard to Do
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More than two‐thirds of American adults use social media, led by 74% of adults logging in to Facebook at least once a week. This explosion of interest in social media spans all age groups, income levels, and ethnicities—and is compelling financial institutions to interact with the first wave of social media‐savvy customers where they hang out. Javelin’s report examines two overarching risks of interacting in social media. First, the large majority of Americans have strong misgivings about mixing personal finances and social networks, ranging from 4‐to‐1 resistance against receiving updates about promotions and discounts to 9‐to‐1 resistance against reviewing or receiving account balances. Second, FIs engaging in social media must confront fundamental issues, such as how to balance responsiveness and regulatory compliance, how to handle private conversations in public places, and how to effectively direct customers to information. Javelin aconducted two studies of nearly 6,000 customer service interactions on Twitter with Bank of America, Citigroup, and Wells Fargo during the tumultuous period that spanned the backlash over debit fees, Bank Transfer Day, and Occupy Wall Street protests. Twitter was a lightning rod as customer service interactions tripled at the three trailblazing banks. But Javelin’s studies indicate that challenges abound. Consumers commonly receive no response because they misdirect tweets to the wrong bank handles. CSRs resolve only a minority of interactions on Twitter, and they commonly post repetitive, scripted answers that put the onus on customers to proceed—shortcomings that diminish the appeal for customers reaching out to an FI on Twitter.

Primary Questions

  • How many consumers are engaged with social media?
  • What are the fastest‐growing demographic segments in the past year?
  • Are consumers willing to mix personal finance and social media?
  • Which segments are most open‐minded and should be targeted first?
  • What banking transactions and activities are they most willing to consider doing in conjunction with social media?
  • How do the four largest U.S. banks use Twitter as a customer service tool?
  • What challenges do FIs face in using social media such as Twitter for customer service?
  • What types of interactions do FIs handle, and how do they resolve them?
  • What are the best practices for using Twitter for customer service


Findings regarding consumer attitudes about delivering banking services through social media are based on data collected online from 5,102 consumers who were primary or shared financial managers in March 2011. The overall margin of sampling error is ±1.37 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. The survey targeted respondents based on representative proportions of gender, age, income, and ethnicity compared to the overall U.S. online population.

Findings regarding the market share for leading social media sites are based on data collected online from 3,210 consumers in October 2011. The overall margin of sampling error is ±1.73 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

Companies Mentioned

Bank of America Linkedin
Chase MySpace
Citigroup Twitter
Facebook Wells Fargo
Google+ Youtube

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