Love him or loathe him, if you work in financial services marketing you could do far worse than follow the adventures of Aleksandr Orlov.
The linguistically-challenged meerkat star of the Comparethemarket.com TV ads has also become something of a celebrity on social media channels with an enviable 800k Facebook fans and over 52,000 Twitter followers.
His success is hard evidence that the financial services industry can be creative and fun at the same time as delivering and supporting brand messages and raising awareness.
The rise in the use of digital channels in general and social media in particular is indisputable. US-based researchers Corporate Insight who monitor over 90 financial institutions say in their Social Media Leaders report: “In the four years since we published our first study on the subject, social media has evolved from an experimental communication tool used by a few forward-thinking firms into a nearly universal feature.
“Today, (end 2011) Twitter has replaced Facebook as the most popular social network for financial services firms with 92% actively engaging with clients on Twitter against 88% on Facebook.
“Engagement is truly what sets social media apart from more traditional business-to-consumer communications, and this direct interaction with current and prospective clients is a major benefit of a well-executed social media offering.”
Mobile marketing and video are also identified as channels to watch by financial marketing website.
In an overview of the top financial services marketing trends of 2012, the site says: “With 59% of UK consumers now in possession of a smartphone and 18% owning a tablet device, mobile marketing is a trend that businesses can’t afford to ignore. Companies that fully prepare for mobile will benefit from a potential client-base that browses – and shops – on the move.”
“The growth of video within financial services business marketing fits naturally with the broadening of social media channels and with increasing client focus on feedback and recommendations. Expect video to take on some surprising approaches this year with many financial services companies developing fresher and more user-focused forms of viral marketing.”
Of course, fear of falling foul of the FSA has been one of the biggest hurdles preventing the financial services industry from fully embracing social media. But attitudes are changing, according to media litigation lawyer Ashley Hurst.
“More and more financial services firms are now dipping their toes into the world of social media and reaping the rewards. Whether it be thought leadership on blogs, responding to customer complaints on Twitter, or creating common interest groups on LinkedIn, financial services firms are realising that brands can be enhanced and relationships built through social media,” he added.
Get ahead of the curve, Top financial services marketing trends of 2012, February 2012
The Lawyer, Social Media and Financial Services – time to open up, December 2011
Corporate Insights, Social Media Leaders