Social Media and the Indian BFSI sector

Social Media today is playing a significant role in Indian Banking, Financial services and Insurance (BFSI) Industry. Every brand is there on one or the other platform and trying to engage with consumers online.

As I mentioned earlier the Indian B.F.S.I. sector has proven that its not just about opening a savings bank account or owning credit cards, making investments, providing wealth management and mutual funds, insurance and so on; its much more than than and we also saw how some of the Indian Banks are leveraging Social Media to connect to their customers.

paurush sonkarToday we have with us Mr. Paurush Sonkar, who is the founder of BFSI Digital Stallions Forum which is India’s first digital forum exclusively for the B.F.S.I. Sector. He is a Digital Evangelist for the BFSI space with over a decade of experience across all facets of Digital Marketing with impeccable domain understanding across the entire BFSI Sector.

We asked Paurush certain questions regarding Social Media and Indian BFSI sector, about the role, ROI, performance, his opinion and some facts that only a person within the industry can talk about. And we are glad to have some amazing response from him and really great insights about BFSI industry.

Q1: What is the Role of Social Media in BFSI sector?

Description: His views on how exactly social media is helping brands in BFSI sector to achieve their goals, and its not just about likes/comments/shares. He has suggested some Key Performance Indicators for the Industry.

He said: The B.F.S.I. Sector is a very serious sector and the biggest issue that B.F.S.I. brands face is that customers do not wish to interact with a brand once they have purchased it and the interaction is restricted basis the nature of product i.e. In the case of insurance policies interaction is yearly, just to pay premiums, or in the case of mutual funds only at the time of redemption of units, etc. This poses a big challenge as the brand is not able to interact with the customer and this is exactly where Social Media steps in and helps B.F.S.I. Brands to connect with their existing customers and prospects on a regular basis.

However brands must be cautious not to get pulled into the rat-race of getting the maximum fans in the least possible times as in the long run brands that seek limited engaged users rather than a huge chunk of un-engaged users will benefit.

The most important performance indicators a B.F.S.I. Brands must keep in mind is Engagement Ratio, everything else shall follow.

social media indian bfsi sector

Q2: Name 3 BFSI Brands that are doing wonders on Social Media

He said: Keeping in mind the nature of the B.F.S.I. Sector and their adaptation of digital marketing and within that social media, I would start by congratulating every brand that has a Facebook page and shows the FB Tab on their site and e-Mailers

In my mind the 3 B.F.S.I. brands that are doing justice to their social media presence are

  • ICICI Bank
  • Franklin Templeton Mutual Fund
  • SBI Life Insurance

The 3 main reasons these brands have made it here are stated below

  • A social media strategy is in place and thus social media is not used sporadically
  • Social media has its own set of creatives and is not used as a dumping ground of offline marketing collaterals
  • Social media resource / team / agency is deployed and in place. This shows the brands focus towards social media

Q3: Which Social Media platform can be considered best for BFSI sector

Description: We asked him to choose 3 most suitable Social Media platforms that he considers to be successful for BFSI sector, helping brands to reach their strategic and operational objectives.

He said: The 3 social media platforms which are best suited for B.F.S.I. Brands keeping in mind the nature of the business would be

  • Facebook – Engage with the users
  • Google Plus – Build community
  • YouTube – Video is the best form of expression so express yourself

Before the readers start to wonder why the usual 2 suspects do not find a mention let me clarify

  • LinkedIn – This is a professional networking site and is a great site to find a job, works well as an information sharing site too. In my opinion therefore not the best bet for a B.F.S.I. Brand to create engagement with their brand
  • Twitter – The characters restriction makes it a problem for B.F.S.I. Brands due to the level of mandatory information that needs to be given out with each message

Q4: Two outstanding BFSI Social Media Campaigns

He said: While I have been witness to quite a number of social media campaign done by the B.F.S.I. Sector, the 2 I would like to highlight are

  • Axis Bank – Badhti ka naam zindagi; this campaign lent itself seamlessly to digital media and had a site dedicated to the campaign. The social media angle to the campaign was not just interesting but was viral by nature and thus lent itself well to the basic ethos of social media.
  • Birla Sun Life Insurance – Their campaign Not Jobs but Passion was a campaign microsite, weaved in social media elements and was a boon for young parents who needed a guide to understand how to understand their children’s aspirations and plan for their education accordingly. The tips and information shared by the brand on their social media properties made a positive impact on the social media fans.

Q5: Are BFSI regulations Social media restrictions?

Description: We have heard this so many times that BFSI regulations restricts innovation/ creativity/ freedom in Social Media for brands. Is there any easy way?

He said: I had read a quote on Social Media “Social Media is like teenage sex, teens want to have it but don’t know exactly how to go about it”. Well, in the context of B.F.S.I. it only gets difficult as daddy (SEBI, IRDA, RBI) is media restrictions

The nature of B.F.S.I. Businesses makes them highly regulated and thus the messaging in most cases is accompanied by a lot of mandatory information; remember the classical phrase : Mutual Fund Investments subject to market risks, read the scheme information document carefully before investing (Imagine writing this with a message on Twitter and all this in 160 characters).

However all B.F.S.I. Regulations need not necessarily hamper their social media activities. All regulations are product / category specific and some industry specific, smart brands can build and leverage the power of social media by building generic communities on investment, tax saving, retirement planning, etc and plug their product at a later and appropriate stage. Also another area that B.F.S.I. Brands can explore if C.S.R. Activities and Education i.e. Awareness Campaigns.

Q6: What Social Media Marketing spends should brands look forward to?

Description: In his recent white-paper he mentioned “conventional marketing is a cost, digital marketing is an investment” What is an average budget per year that a brand should target to make a good presence on Social Media?

social media budget

He said: Digital Spends in the B.F.S.I. Sector have seen a steady growth over the last 5 to 7 years and are only going higher, however the focus has always been and upto a large extent continues to be on lead generation activities. Social Media however has been lucky as it falls in the ‘Experiment’ category and thus does see B.F.S.I. Brands spending on the same. I would assume that most digitally evolved brands are spending approx 8% to 10% of their digital budgets on social media. The problem is many brands are investing in social media with an eye on getting R.O.I. (Return on Investment) at a later date and the same might not happen as trying to sell using social media is a big mistake.

I would not like to suggest an average spend that a B.F.S.I. Brand must allocate towards social media as each brand is different and so are their objectives. However anything in excess of 6% to 8% of their overall digital budgets being allocated towards social media is a good start.

Q7. What is the ROI from Social Media to BFSI brands

Description: Brands like ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Axis Bank has over 1 Million Fans on Facebook, are they really leveraging such a huge fan-base? Are these brands just obsessed with Social Media? What is the ROI from Social Media for BFSI brands?

He said: The 2 words R.O.I. and Social Media pose a big challenge to brands, agencies and digital marketers alike. The biggest benefit of the digital channel is also its biggest bane ‘Measurability’ and it is this very aspect that causes a lot of unnecessary expectations which brands to do not have from other mediums of marketing.

social media ROIThe above mentioned Banks are big brands and in their own right and do make good use of social media, infact I have even listed one of these i.e. ICICI Bank amongst the best 3 brands from the B.F.S.I. Sector using social media. The idea for these banks must be to engage users and come up with offers that would be applicable only for those who are on their social media channel. Eg – A 10% cash back on a shopping outlet but only for those who have been loyal to the Banks social media channel for a minimum of 6 months, such offers / ideas could revolutionize the way users interact with the social media properties of these banks.

I do re-collect Axis Bank running specific offers only for those who follow them on their Facebook page but the journey has just begun for B.F.S.I. Brands on their social media profiles.

To sum it all B.F.S.I. Brands are making the right noises and moves when it comes to Digital Marketing and shall soon dominate the social media sphere across categories with some smart campaigns and by having the right people guide them through their social media journey and last but not the least when it comes to social media the biggest ROI is a Social Media community beaming with engaged users.

Your turn now, what do you think about Paurush Sonkar’s views?

We are really impressed with what he shared, please share your views in the comments box below.

Paurush is empanelled with AFAQ’s Campus, D.M.T.I. and also with B-Schools as a trainer on Digital Marketing. He regularly writes white papers on varied aspects of Digital Marketing keeping the B.F.S.I. Sector in mind. He is a strong believer in the fact that BFSI Sector can scale new heights if they embrace Digital Marketing. He can be reached at paurush.sonkar[at]

image courtesy: restriction image | budget image | ROI image

A social media and web tech enthusiast. I keep myself busy with building social media strategies, tactics, exploring new platforms and sharing the best of my knowledge online. I like to play basketball and football.

Share your thoughts here!

  • Mubeen Farooqi

    Brilliant interview, very well done. Cleared so many misgivings which brands harbour regarding Social Media. The sharp insights provided by Paurush are clear pointers to brands wanting to optimise their social media presence. Way to go, Harsh!

    • Harsh Ajmera

      So true @mubeenfarooqi:disqus, Paurush has given some really awesome insights for existing brands and those who are planning to start Social Media marketing. His experience speaks and guides too. Thanks for your wishes.

  • Sonal D

    A very educative insight on Social media awareness and marketing for the BFSI segment in India, a excellent example of BFSI Social Media campaign globally are Citi Connect Women Group on linkedin, amazing group started by CFO and CEO of Citi Group , empowering women and entrepreneur ship. Another example is GE Mid Market Linkedin group for ANZ, there are so many initiatives BFSI segment in India can undertake especially tapping start ups, women entrepreneurs on social media networks like linkedin, twitter to not only create awareness but also engage and increase brand loyalty about their products, offerings and increase customer satisfaction.

    • Digital Insights

      Hi Sonal, we are glad that you liked the article. Thanks for sharing with us those resources, very handy.

  • Sukhomoy Bhattacharya

    a great insight into the social media campaigns of various banks. there are lot to learn from this article as a social media fan or as a brand. for fans like us, who regularly in touch with one of these big banks on social media, it gives a motivation to go more active on these pages & have interaction with the banks & avail the info on various offers & facts. Banks must not only share the offers, it must advise on various investment options to socially active fans. then fans will be motivated to join globally.

    • Digital Insights

      Thanks a lot Sukhomoy for sharing your views here. We are happy that you found the article insightful and motivational.

    • Harsh Ajmera

      Hi @sukhomoybhattacharya:disqus, you mentioned banks must advise on investment options to socially active plans, do you really think that motivates fans? I personally don’t follow any bank on Facebook or Twitter so that they can advice me on investment plans. They will never say that other offerings are better. Isn’t it?

      • Sukhomoy Bhattacharya

        hello @harsh_ajmera:disqus. i meant that many people/investors who are active on social profile of any bank are curious about the latest trends going on in financial markets. under the current economic scenario, where investment becomes a risk factor to some extent, don’t you think some leading banks must share the current trends about markets to give some useful info to their fans so that we really appreciate their social networking portfolio. after all, it;s not about getting no. of likes. it’s about securing people towards a better understanding through social networking medium. it would really help.