Are banks and credit unions ready for Pinterest?

There’s no doubt that Pinterest is an exciting new social media platform. With over 11 million unique visitors a month (and growing fast!), banks and credit unions are wondering if they should start to “pin”. Ron Shevlin, Senior Analyst with the Aite Group, sparked a great conversation on The Financial Brand blog. His article prompts an interesting question: can banks and credit unions capture enough of a measurable benefit from Pinterest to generate a positive ROI?

Over two-thirds of Pinterest users are women, and more than half have children.*

While there will be a calculus unique to each financial institution, there are three key business drivers to consider:

Acquire: Will Pinterest enable my bank to attract new customers?

Transact:  Will this social platform drive incremental revenues from cross-sell, up-sell, or “more sell”?

Retain: Will it help us to better understand customer preferences, meet customer needs, and build loyalty?

The Pinterest audience is enticing for banks and credit unions. The average household income is over $100,000.  Social media news portal Mashable also estimates that over two-thirds of the visitors are women, more than half have kids, and fewer than 5% are under age 18. These demographics help to explain why Nordstrom, Whole Foods, and West Elm are a few of the brands that are represented on the platform.

Leveraging social media for customer engagement is not free and the time and resources needed to establish an effective presence quickly add up. Financial institutions need to tailor their content, social media monitoring, and engagement strategies to reach the audience that is attracted to each social media platform. There will be an inevitable cycle of experimentation and refinement as a financial institution works to express its brand voice in these new social conversations. And there will be real costs incurred along the way.

On the positive side of the ledger balance, not enough of the benefits can be quantified. Awareness and brand recognition are important, but how well can your bank measure that value? Pinterest can help your business to foster a sense of community, but is that relationship going to be strong enough to drive revenues or help reduce attrition?

Banks and credit unions should establish a Pinterest account to protect their brands, but focus on other social media priorities before launching a campaign.

There is a passive risk in social media, if your company is too slow to establish a presence on popular social media channels. TD Bank and Standard Bank have been proactive in mitigating that risk and protecting their brands on Pinterest (pinterest.com/tdbank and pinterest.com/standardbanks). They have not started to utilize the social platform to engage with prospects or customers, but they are ensuring that no one assumes their online identity.  This is a good defensive move and something that all financial institutions should do.

Social media can be an effective business tool, but only if social media efforts are tied to measurable business objectives. In the case of Pinterest, it is still too soon to include this channel in your marketing efforts. Keep it on the radar, but hold onto those pins for a little while longer.

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*Photo credit: photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

4 comments on “Are banks and credit unions ready for Pinterest?”

  1. Jeffry Pilcher | The FInancial Brand

    Hard for TD and Standard to protect their brands when there are so many derivatives of possible account names:

    pinterest.com/td_bank
    pinterest.com/td-bank
    pinterest.com/td
    pinterest.com/standardbank
    pinterest.com/standard_bank
    pinterest.com/standard-bank
    pinterest.com/standard_banks
    pinterest.com/standard-banks

    If someone wants to create a look-alike account, there’s very little a brand can do to stop them. To fully protect your brand, you need the support/help of the social media company to police/enforce violators. For instance, Twitter will shutter accounts encroaching on another brand’s trademarks.

  2. Dana Roytenberg

    Hi Jeffry, thanks for the comment and good point. The prospect of look-alike accounts underscores the importance of actively monitoring each key social media platform. Additionally, if a company expresses a clear and consistent brand identity across platforms, it will be easier for people familiar with the brand to recognize imposters.

  3. Andrea Elkins

    I’d like to hear more about managing risk from look-alike accounts. Can you point me to any resources? My specific concerns include:

    * How do each of the major platforms handle “ownership” of a brand name? What is permitted or disallowed?
    * What is the contact method (usually buried!) to indicate that another user is “squatting on” or otherwise using your copyrighted brand name?
    * Is it feasible or practical to “reserve” the variations of your company name on each platform, especially given the volume of variations and the volume of platforms, as Jeffrey indicates?
    * What copyright and defamation laws apply to social media?

    Thank you.

  4. Steven Ramirez

    Hi Andrea,

    Thanks for your post. I think the most effective way to manage this risk is through active social media monitoring, including use of automated alerts. For example, Clarabridge recently announced this enhancement and Beyond the Arc builds solutions using that platform. You might also be able to leverage tools like Google Alerts for more rudimentary tracking.

    Text analytics enables you to search more powerfully and dynamically, in other words, it is easier to look for a “fuzzy match.” Of course, mitigating this kind of risk is only one part of the business case for text analytics as part of your social strategy.

    Copyright and defamation laws apply to social media. Because of this, the social media platforms do take steps to shut down infringers. As you note, it is not always easy to identify the right point of contact.

    Most banks don’t yet have a consistent approach to managing this repuation and brand risk from social media. I don’t know of any resources. This is a key reason we’ve started to develop solutions for the industry.

    Regards,
    Steven Ramirez, CEO
    Beyond the Arc

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