Social Media: The Goldman Sachs Story

Social Media: The Goldman Sachs Story

In 2008 the landscape of worldwide banking was not a pretty picture. In the midst of what many economists called the most serious financial crisis since the great depression, ‘banking’ had become a dirty word. Although Goldman Sachs had initially benefited from the subprime mortgage crisis in 2007, this was what ultimately triggered a worldwide financial crisis leading to the company being bailed out by the US Government; it’s safe to say that Goldman Sachs were not held in high esteem by the general public.

2008 was also the year Barack Obama won the US Presidential election; having gone from a relatively unknown Democrat to the leader of the free world in a relatively short amount of time. His success has been credited in part to the use of social media in his campaign; finally, social media marketing had truly arrived.

Understandably, due to the financial climate and their poor public image, the fairly conservative Goldman Sachs were reluctant to make the leap to social media but, after much convincing from their marketing department, leap they did.

Allegedly what changed their mind is that the firm’s marketing department searched the phrase “Goldman Sachs” on YouTube and turned up more than 34,000 videos, none of which had been posted by the firm; they realised that people would be talking about their brand regardless of their actions; there was a lesser risk in having an online presence rather than not at all. As head of brand marketing and digital strategy, Lisa Shallet puts it: “We’ve learned that we have to invest in telling our story online and protecting the Goldman Sachs brand.”

Nevertheless, the initial Goldman Sachs online output may have actually alienated people. In 2013 The Banker’s Umbrella commented on the bank’s Twitter activity: “what Goldman is doing is conducting a good old fashioned direct marketing campaign. All they are doing is giving you an advertising brochure and delivering it through social media”, they were simply drip-feeding their Twitter followers with a standard ad campaign, 140 characters at a time.

Even with the backdrop of corporate impersonality, Goldman Sachs is already particularly faceless; it has no branches so there is no customer and community interaction. Maybe this explains their initial failure online; Goldman Sachs failed to grasp was that ‘social media’ is exactly that, social. Slowly, Goldman realised that as it turns out, having no social media presence is bad, but having a bad social media presence is worse.

Luckily for Goldman Sachs they’ve had a turn around.

Now, in 2017, Goldman Sachs actually excel at producing shareable content, regularly uploading accessible videos and blogs about current events and popular culture – OK, so maybe not entirely relevant to the Goldman Sachs brand, but a step in the right direction none the less.

Last week they even tweeted their own #TBT (as pictured below); Goldman is finally taking off the corporate mask to reveal the real people who work for the bank – and it working. They now have well over half a million followers and have slowly expanded to social media channels they feel compliment their brand, engaging with consumers on LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube.

tbt

By 2015 90% of Goldman’s marketing activity was online, vital for a company with no physical high street presence, and now in 2017 that figure is undoubtedly higher. Amanda Rubin, managing director and global co-head of brand and content strategy at Goldman, has said that “from a brand’s perspective, digital platforms offer us an enormous amount of data. By using that data, we are able to know what is valuable, what is interesting, and what is imperative.” We couldn’t agree more, as recognised Facebook partners we are in the lucky position of having access to valuable census data and so experience first-hand the influence this data can have on a campaign and, moreover, the impact that carefully targeted and relevant social media can provide.