The ability to interrogate and make decisions based on consumer data from social media is a key 2013 priority for European bankers according to a survey from the European Financial Management Association (Efma) and the Fair Isaac Corporation (Fico). The survey of credit risk professionals from 27 European countries found that analysing these data to better understand consumer needs was a priority for 54% of respondents.

The results show the growing importance of social data sets in the already data-rich world of financial services. The  industry is currently in a very risk-averse period, meaning that companies are looking for credit growth primarily among those people that they have the most data on – their customers. However focusing just on your existing customers will not help you to win in the current market as customers are risk-averse too in the current economic climate – they will look for the best product for them and move banks to get what they see as a better offer.

This is where the respondents see the role of social media. Analysing data from these sources can help them to better:

  • understand consumer needs
  • predict the products and services that will see most demand
  • identify where they might find valuable new customers

In the current market, the financial services brand that most effectively integrates these social data sources alongside their existing rich data sets has the potential for a real competitive advantage. The ability to predict and tailor products and services that will attract profitable consumers.

Of course getting there will involve work, as with any activities looking to interrogate and learn from social data you first need to understand what data you have (from your own proprietary data-sets and from social and public sources) and then to explore what you can learn from these. Only then can you consider how your business might benefit and the kinds of decisions you can inform.

That financial services firms rank understanding data as such a priority for 2013 shows the value that these firms are seeing from social media – not just as a means of communication but also to inform business and marketing strategies.