Until the late 1980s marketing communication used classical print media and motion pictures. Even as the internet emerged, communication remained a one way channel. Then the power of the Web in connecting real-time users with content gave rise to a new model. Social media came into being. It allows content to be produced increasingly by users; generates interaction through commenting and sharing; and enables the creation of interactive content in text and video, among other formats.
The beauty and the (dangerous) beast
The reach, speed and format of social media channels naturally appeal to businesses, which can craft messages in new formats that are easy to produce and consume. This has led to a massive shift from text to voice and video, and will continue as such formats suit the delivery of light information to consumers with short attention spans. Of course, once content is public, the creator loses control. Most businesses want information concerning them to go viral and reach millions of users within hours… but what if it is fake or negative news? Companies must be prepared to respond quickly and appropriately.
Content is not always what it appears
Augmented algorithms appear to allow specialized companies to compile precise user profiles (based on psychological profiling) from data available online, especially Facebook. These are used to micro-target user profile-specific messages in a personalized way direct to users’ accounts. Powerful stuff indeed. But, particularly with the recent rise of ‘fake news’, we must learn to judge the relevance and accuracy of web-based content put in front of us in order to avoid drawing the wrong conclusions or unwittingly sharing false information.
What does this mean for financial intermediaries (FIMs)?
Trends in how content is consumed cannot – and should not – be ignored. Nor statistics such as users checking their mobile phones an average of 43 times per day for new content. The risks and opportunities of social media management must be understood, including the dedicated marketing resources, comprehensive communication strategy, and constant following and management of content that are required.
Existing communication formats and frequencies should be reviewed, and more interactive communication with existing customers explored, such as using short videos with text supplements. By tackling this professionally, a business can begin to harness the power of social media and to understand the potential of micro-targeting on the basis of digital identity, which, fortuitously, will be the subject of our next article.
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Matthias Plattner is Head Technology & Processes at UBS Global Financial Intermediaries. If you have any questions about this topic, please email him by clicking on the link below.