By Jake Ward, Business Development Director, Groovy Gecko
The general public have a long-held misconception that the financial sector is inherently untrustworthy. Whether that’s a legacy of the financial crisis of the late 2000s or just a cliché that just won’t go away, it’s hard to avoid the fact that two-thirds of Britons do not trust banks. In a 2018 report, however, PwC talk of a “challenge, for brands and retailers alike, to be seen as authentic and trustworthy,” so maybe a lack of trust isn’t symptomatic of the financial industry alone.
Either way, the situation isn’t likely to get better on its own, especially considering that Millennials’ opinions about business’ motivations and ethics took a downward trend this year, with over half saying they believe corporations behave unethically. So how can finance companies rebuild trust? The answer is better and more authentic communication of brand values and purpose.
Be Open and Transparent
There are three things that financial organisations can do to build trust going forward. The first, especially when it comes to Millennials according to Forbes, is to clearly define a pledge or mission. Another is to look to new ways of developing stronger relationships with the public, which of course includes better communicating the purpose of the organisation. The third is increasing the transparency of operations so that customers, stakeholders, investors and the media have a better understanding of what is actually going on within the organisation. According to PwC, “trust can be earned through transparency”, and to this end “digital technology can be a game changer”.
Being more transparent about operations doesn’t have to mean publishing various reports every other month, it can simply mean giving the outside world insight into the internal workings of an organisation. It can also mean encouraging two-way communication methods that give the public the option to ask questions rather than simply telling them about the state of play.
Digital technology, especially live video, really is a huge enabler of better communication. Although an established marketing tool, live video is a relatively untapped opportunity for the finance sector, most likely due to the assumption that it only supports less serious content and carries a much higher level of risk. However, when created correctly that is most definitely not the case.
Finance Brands Should Embrace Live Video
Last year, Julie Lellis, co-author of The Zombie Business Cure: How to Refocus your Company’s Identity for More Authentic Communication, told The Dubs that finance brands can “use content marketing to communicate core values through stories and insights rather than buried corporate-speak under an About Us section of your website.” If this is true, live video is a more authentic and engaging tool with which to communicate with both internal and external audiences.
The thing is, consumers are hugely aware of overly-polished content. Young people are especially sceptical of communication they believe is pure marketing speak, and so it is difficult for finance brands to converse with external networks without coming across as self-serving. Authenticity is really difficult to achieve even in pre-recorded video, and this is where live video comes in.
Statistics already show that 80% of people would prefer to watch a live video than read a blog, and 59% of executives would rather watch a video than read text. At the same time, live video could help financial brands reach out to the sceptical millennials, as a whopping 63% of this demographic already watch live video. So what kind of live content is needed to build trust?
Using Live Video To Boost Authenticity
Well, although live video is probably best known to be a feature of social media, it can also be distributed in other, more controlled ways. A simple and relatively easy first step is live streaming AGMs and other company-wide meetings or events. As long as the information is not for internal use only and is likely to end up in the public domain then providing remote access can be highly effective. Although this type of scenario doesn’t allow for two-way communication, it certainly adds an element of transparency and accessibility to operations.
For more engaging content, live Q&As with a member of senior management can be effective, particularly for communicating brand values and aims. In this case, social media may be helpful, as consumers have direct access to someone at the heart of the organisation, therefore humanising the brand. Questions asked in the comment section can be moderated by certain live streaming solutions, before they are fed to the host. However it is very important to have a hard editorial line. No audience is going to respond well if the person being questioned is perceived to be being asked soft questions. Senior executives should have good answers for the tough questions, so any live stream should tackle these types of questions.
Live video can even be used to keep shareholders/investors and even journalists up to date. Access to the streams can of course be gated if needs be, to ensure that only those allowed to view the content do so or to simply gain further information about the audience by making registration to view compulsory.
According to a PwC report, 46% of people said that greater transparency on products and services would make them more likely to trust financial services providers. Educational content about products is therefore also something that could be live streamed to customers, whether that’s to inform existing customers about a new product or changes to an existing product. With a Q&A feature, these educational streams could also be two-way, so consumers feel they are able to ask questions and get answers from a real person.
Of course there are other internal uses for live streaming aside from those which build trust, such as training staff and broadcasting company-wide policy changes. Once a financial organisation invests in live streaming capabilities, the possibilities are huge.
It is possible to break the mould with truly authentic communication of a clearly defined purpose. Companies who embrace this and have a clear audience-focussed editorial line regularly see a level of engagement and interactivity unsurpassed by other comms channels.
Live video can be a helpful tool to this end, as it enables the financial sector to be transparent, forward-looking and accessible. It really is a digital gamechanger.