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2014 Forecast: The Evolution of Social Media in Banking

Social media is one of the fastest growing channels in banking and banks need to be mindful of several trends in the channel going into 2014.

2013 was an important for social media in the banking industry. Regulators took notice of the channel and announced the first regulatory audits to examine how banks are interacting with customers through social media. The new regulatory scrutiny is just one social media trend that Matthew Wilcox, the managing director of marketing strategy at Fiserv, says he expects to continue in 2014. Here are some of of the trends and predictions that he says banks need to keep an eye on in the next year:

- Social Media Data and Marketing - A few banks have already begun the shift from using social media simply as an engagement tool to actually marketing products and services through the channel. "Banks are starting to use targeted ads and leveraging the data and tools that Facebook and others provide. We'll definitely see more of that in 2014," Wilcox predicts. Banks will need to maintain the customer engagement side of their social media efforts, while also finding ways to leverage social media data for marketing insights.

While many banks will face challenges related to talent and resources in gaining those insights, Wilcox says more banks will figure out how to bypass those challenges. "When banks really just focus on this, they find that they do have the resources and talent to do something," he relates.

- Consolidate Social Media Efforts - Banks will begin to centralize their focus on one of two social media sites that they find are the most effective in customer engagement and marketing, Wilcox shares. "Banks will find that they don't necessarily need a presence on Pinterest and Instagram, and they can't be everywhere. They have limited staff to deal with social media," he explains.

- Deepening Small Business Customer Relationships - Banks will start to offer training to their small business clients on how to leverage and sell their products through social media, Wilcox says. This will help build more loyalty in the banks' relationships with their small business clients. And by helping those businesses grow, the banks can increase the likelihood that they will buy more products and services from their bank.

- More Regulatory Guidelines - "There will definitely be more regulatory scrutiny in 2014, so banks need ot be prepared for that," Wilcox notes. Banks should have the support in place to handle customer service requests through Twitter and Facebook (which is cheaper than dealing with them through the call center), Wilcox suggests. They should also form steering committees with members from the social media, IT and legal/compliance teams to review what the bank is doing in social media and build a structured strategy.

[For More on Social Media Compliance, See: Why FINRA's Spot Checks Are a Milestone for Social Media ]

More guidelines will certainly follow the ongoing FINRA spot checks, the first regulatory reviews of banks' social media interactions with clients. "Banks should expect those guidelines from regulators to increase and evolve," Wilcox advises.

Jonathan Camhi has been an associate editor with Bank Systems & Technology since 2012. He previously worked as a freelance journalist in New York City covering politics, health and immigration, and has a master's degree from the City University of New York's Graduate School ... View Full Bio

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