Datamonitor has produced a report in which is concludes that banks should start using social media to build trust, loyalty and improve relationships with customers. I find it unbelievable that it taken them (Datamonitor, or any other report provider) to come to this conclusion. Clever (that is, observant) online and offline businesses have been using social media in this self same way for some considerable time with more than excellent success. It is surprising that more firms have not yet taken hold of the initiative.
The fact that, as is pointed out, 50% of consumers are using online tools to make decisions should have been a dead giveaway that being IN this environment might have been a good thing.
Being in the social media space, consumers often make recommendations, give reviews or make comments (positive or negative) about a brand or service. Banks, as well as other companies, can use their own presence in this space to provide real time customer focussed service, to be aware of the conversations about them and their products and to actively and aggressively be aware of the effect their competition is having.
The social space conversations are happening whether a company is there or not. Being there can help a company be part of the narrative.