The banking and finance sector faces a major challenge when it comes to connecting with customers on social media. It’s one they face in the actual media and face to face too. There’s just something about the nature of their industry that the general populace seems to find tedious and uninspiring. In many ways, this difficulty has enlivened marketing departments to abandon the chestnuts of old and find fresh approaches to target what’s now a wider and more reachable audience.

Here are three social media campaigns which show how it should be done:

MasterCard: brand allegiance

The story of social media at one of the world’s largest financial service providers pretty much epitomises what the industry has experienced as a whole. MasterCard was highly suspicious of social media at first and was sluggish to embrace the opportunities it presented. At first fear of defamation was the main reason for their almost total radio silence, but they have now become one of the first global players to use the power of their own staff as brand ambassadors.

In 2010 the brand began actively to encourage its 8,000 staff members to engage positively on social media on its behalf and, with a specially developed listening programme called Conversion Suite, sought to educate them on the company-wide benefits which could be drawn from such online engagements.

Even in 2010, the impact this shift in policy created was remarkable. In the first six months over 520,000 conversations were created across multiple platforms with a potential reach of 1.3 billion people.

To drive conversions via the web and by social media in particular, you don't need to be extravagant or earth shattering - Highlight to share -

Barclays: content marketing and community building

If you ever want an example of content marketing that is ‘right on the money’ you need look no further than Barclays and their online business resource. No campaign could possibly take a more targeted approach to social media than this.

Their success proves very clearly that in order to drive conversions via the web and by social media in particular, you don’t need to be extravagant or earth shattering in your approach; you just need to be smart and persistent.

Barclays’s strategy was simple: build a trusting relationship with business customers by becoming an online resource of advice, then trade on the strength of this trust to sell financial services.  Taking this a step further, Barclays managed to embed customers even further into its business-support ecosystem by creating ‘Connector for Business’ – an online community that allows users to connect with like-minded businesspeople.

In this way, they essentially created their own social media platform, whose user base was perfectly tailored to their own particular requirements.

PayPal: saving face

The team at PayPal knows, perhaps better than any financial service provider, the sting that can come from negative conversations on social media.  Anyone familiar with Paypal’s social media presence now, will find it hard to believe that pre-2013, the company was almost completely absent. It was often accused of being a harsh and faceless corporation.

But then PayPal instigated a complete rebrand of its engagement. It decided to seize upon the opportunity of establishing itself as a friendly, customer-focused, and helpful company that was wholly dedicated to delivering an outstanding service. Three years on and Paypal is now notorious for its effective use of social media; not because of ground-breaking campaigns, but simply for taking full advantage of the communicative and relationship-building opportunities it creates.

So what lessons can be drawn from these examples? It’s simple: don’t be afraid to join in with the conversation and make sure you’re talking to the right people.

How banks and financial institutions can use the power of social media