September 6, 2018

Keeping Up With Komms – The Role of Influencers in Financial Services Campaigns


By Rachel Morrod, Senior Account Manager, Financial Services

Engaging with influencers can be a tricky business. Take Snapchat, for example; the multimedia messaging app – famed for its strong millennial and Gen Z following – has long courted Kylie Jenner of Kardashian family fame, devoting countless custom filters to and lavishing merchandising gifts on the US TV personality.

With 25.4 million followers on Twitter, 114 million followers on Instagram and a long-standing reign as the most followed person on Snapchat, Kylie is perhaps the ultimate social media influencer. However, the partnership took a turn for the worst when Kylie tweeted she was ‘so over’ the app following a controversial platform redesign – wiping $1.3bn off Snapchat’s stock market value in the process.

Though an extreme example, the Kylie/Snapchat debacle demonstrates the potential difficulties of engaging with influencers and why careful consideration needs to be given to ensure brands get this right.

Why should financial services companies consider engaging with influencers?

Building partnerships with online influencers is commonplace in industries such as health and fashion, but perhaps less so in financial services. However, most consumer-facing organisations such as banks and insurers have a social media presence and use this to add personality to their brand, with fintech firms in particular harnessing online communications that reflect their often digitally-led solutions.

Though there are some risks, by being selective and working with influencers who have a natural affinity to their brand, financial services organisations can quickly spread their messaging to a much wider online audience. For example, American Express recently worked with Instagram influencers undergoing home improvements to showcase the use of its #PayItPlanIt feature, which enables cardholders to pay down large purchases over time. The result was visually appealing stories of home improvement, with key messages around the benefits of the feature forming a natural fit.

Creating content with online influencers is also particularly useful for those financial services brands looking to crack the famously unengaged millennial generation – the majority of Instagram’s users, for example, fall within the 18-34 age range.

Defining influencers

An online influencer isn’t necessarily a celebrity or public figure. Kevin Akeroyd, CEO of PR software company Cision, defines an influencer as someone who influences ‘a meaningful cohort of your target audiences’. This could mean academics, policymakers and respected industry figures as well as those in the public eye. Comms professionals should look beyond follower numbers to see which figures are regularly engaging with relevant industry topics and – crucially – have a high level of engagement from their followers.

A well-thought out pitch to an influencer closely aligned with an organisation’s purpose and ethos could result in a partnership which delivers extensive online reach to valuable new audiences. So while snaring a Kardashian might be a step too far, this is one comms trend financial services brands will want to keep up with.