Comparing Google Trends and social listening data to research financial products

By Filipe Zuluaga on Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Is there a relationship between the level of web searches for certain financial products and the volume of mentions on social platforms and online news?

At Teamspirit, we set out to investigate this question and determine whether Google Search and social listening data can be leveraged to help brands understand how consumer behaviour is shaped by social trends and the news.

The main conclusion reached is that, for most products, we could not find a sustained correlation between trending mentions of financial products on social channels and subsequent searches on Google.

To reach this conclusion, we first looked at Google Trends to see how frequently six financial products (life insurance, equity release, SIPP, first-time buyers, critical illness cover and workplace pension) were searched over a period of nearly two years.

We then looked at mentions of the same six topics across all open social media channels and online news sources, using the social listening tool Netbase and compared the results. We investigated the different peaks and overall trends to try to establish the effect that news and social interest had on product searches.

The research showed (predictably) that, in general, people only tend to search more about a product following government announcements or news reports published on major news outlets. Spikes in mentions of a specific product on social media on their own did not lead to higher interest in the topic, unless it was tied to a news item, for example when Vanguard launched their SIPP or when stamp duty was abolished for first-time buyers of shared ownership schemes.

Teamspirit also discovered variations across the different topics researched. Interest in SIPPs was tied to prominent legal cases; workplace pensions had the lowest search interest but the highest social mentions and mentions of first-time buyers had the strongest connection between news, social mentions and higher search volumes, perhaps as it involves a younger demographic.

A common trend observed is that the holiday season is a period FS brands should avoid, as product mentions in the news and on social media dip and so do searches on Google. Inversely, January and February repeatedly had some of the highest peaks in searches.

In conclusion, this research shows that consumer interest related to key financial products is mainly driven by the news, with social media acting as an amplifier. Consumers do not appear to be motivated to start searching for a financial product just because it was mentioned on social platforms. In most cases there must be a driver to prompt people to search for more information.

Google Trends v Social Mentions Jun 2020
Click on this link to download the full research paper.