The odd couple: Social influencers and banks


Using social influencers to tout financial products and services would not have the same impact on the market as those throwing their support behind technology products and consumer goods, according to Jeff Cotrupe, Industry Director, Big Data & Analytics at Stratecast and Frost & Sullivan.

As digital continues to disrupt the financial services industry, it has also made its way into the marketing of products and services across the board. Social Influencers have emerged from the rise of social media, more often defined as ‘celebrity endorsers’. However they can also often be people who are well-known and who are trusted within a niche.

Cotrupe believes the reason social influencers have not yet emerged in the financial services industry is because it sends the wrong message, “[Banks] believe that being serious about their fiduciary responsibilities does not mix well with using social influencers for their marketing strategies,” he said.

Cotrupe considers himself to fit the role of social influencer, and does concede that there is an area where the use of this medium in financial services can work through promoting applications and online services as an initial ‘hook’ to gather interest, saying he would use“mobile app and services as a hook, to show that a bank or financial services company is "a cool bank to work with for consumers on-the-go.”

The insurance industry has already begun to use social influencers, AXA Insurance recently launched a mobile application and asked a top blogger and two actors to help launch the product, AXA Drive App, which has now been successfully launched in both Singapore and Thailand, and upcoming launches in Malaysia and Hong Kong.

Matthias de Ferrieres, Regional Head of Marketing and Digital, AXA Asia, said using social influencers with event product launches helped increase awareness and application downloads: “We asked them to carry the brand AXA and talk, tweet, and share their experience of driving and using the app. Such events help to boost the number of downloads. We believe that the role of the influencer increased downloads by 80 per cent.”

However he does suggest that using social influencers can be risky for the financial services industry, saying, “the influencer can be revealed inappropriate to the brand you want to carry; also the people that follow them might not be the target segment or ideal for what we want to achieve. Finally the influencer might not be carrying the message the way we want resulting in the message being misunderstood.”  

From a social influencer’s perspective, it has offered a benefit to those who amass a large and loyal following. They are now able to use their platform to generate income from the organisations they choose to endorse, rather than Twitter or Facebook being the only party to benefit from the selling of advertising. Michael Weeding, Digital Director at AMP refers to this on his blog Interrogating Digital.

“You generate the content and the social networks where you post take most of the money made through selling advertising… Without the social networks you would not have a place to easily connect and communicate with your audience, even if you do have a large and loyal following.”