Social Media and Banks: An Emotional Place

We’ve done a fair amount of research into the financial sector in the past year, both Canada and the United States. Most of our data is of course, confidential to the client. But we can speak in “aggregate” terms of our findings. The broad strokes so to speak.

To put it bluntly, there is a lot of anger, frustration and distrust out there. No surprise given the tail end of 2008 and the subsequent spiral into a financial quagmire. Canada may have gotten off a little better, but it still saw a wallop at the banks in terms of consumer mistrust.

There’s lots of chatter going on, as might be expected. We found women tend to discuss bank services more than men (62% female overall) and that the most popular age group for discussion was 30-45. We looked at commentary in online newspapers, newsgroups and forums, blogs, microblogs and some social networking sites. Over 1.7M “conversations” in total across Canada and the U.S.

The topics that ranked the highest for consumer negativity towards the financial sector;

1. Mortgages

2. Fees and service charges

3. customer service

As might be expected, the larger the bank, the more negativity. Smaller, more localized banks in the U.S. had higher consumer sentiment while in Canada it was credit unions that saw the most positive sentiment. People are frustrated. Banks that used “trust” statements in their slogans were hit the worst with re-purposed content turning those slogans back on themselves.

So what does this all mean? As an industry sector, the financial world of businesses has a lot more trust building to do with consumers. It’s no small surprise, but banks and other financial institutions are likely addressing this issue. One wonders how consumer sentiment might be in a year or two from now. The volume of discussion is still rising across multiple social media channels as well. We expect to see a peak by May or June of this year, but that remains to be validated.