Social media is a relatively new and quickly evolving field — especially as it relates to the financial industry. The biggest benefit it provides is in bringing you closer to your account holders in an age where they may seem distant and anonymous behind their digital screens. Here are 5 tips to help you master social media.
1 - Strategically determine which platforms to manage
There are many options available on the social media front — some more helpful than others. Here is a look at the pros and cons of each option:
- Facebook is the primary channel for community building, simply because it has the widest user base of any platform. If you only have the ability to execute well on a single social media platform, make it Facebook.
- Twitter enables you to respond to complaints, concerns, and praise in real time. It’s also a fabulous tool for performing market research, giving you the ability to know what consumers are thinking about your brand, and interacting on a personal level.
- LinkedIn can help you build brand credibility, develop HR outreach, and connect with potential business clients. With LinkedIn Ads you can also target specific industry segments with loan offers.
- YouTube can be expensive and time consuming to maintain, but since it has a very high search volume (second only to Google.com) it’s worth considering. At a baseline you could hire a videographer and interview your employees to get their views on financial health, putting a face to your bank. If you want to really succeed at YouTube, you will need to push the limits of creativity, storytelling, and humor.
- Google+ can help with SEO, but it doesn’t have very active usage. It’s a platform that’s likely not worth spending much time worrying about beyond setting up a profile and autoposting everything you share on Facebook.
- Instagram has millennial appeal and can be a great option if you have interesting events to photograph and a good photographer to capture the moment.
2 - Use the right social tool to publish, monitor, and track
There are a lot of choices out there when it comes to enhancing your social media efforts.
We’ve listed four options below (from least expensive to most expensive), with pros and cons for each:
Our recommendation: If you’re looking to spend as little money as possible, go with Hootsuite. If you have a bigger budget, go with Sprout Social or HubSpot (both of which we use at MX).
3 - Focus on what you're best at
The trick here is to leverage your expertise as a financial institution. This means that unless you’ve hired a world-class comedian, chances are that you shouldn’t post random, lukewarm jokes. That’s not your area of expertise. Instead, you should focus on the following things:
- Providing tips for better financial health (linking to articles you’ve found or written)
- Highlighting your local charitable work (include photos)
- Celebrating the fun events you’ve sponsored (again, include photos)
- Spotlighting exceptional account holder stories
Your main goal should be to focus on the value that you alone can provide to your followers. Don’t dilute your social media presence by doing what everyone else is doing.
4 - Interact with your account holders quickly
Social media is often distressing because consumers can publicly complain about companies easier than ever before. On the flip side, it’s also easier than ever for companies to publicly connect with account holders and resolve their concerns. Do this well and do it often enough, and you will build a reputation as a financial institution that puts account holders first.
The important thing to remember is that negative comments regarding your brand will surface whether you're active or not, so don't let that stop you. Instead, let it drive you to better customer service by listening and responding to account holders quickly and kindly.
5 - Get your team members (including your executive team) on Twitter
It might seem counterintuitive to get your team members on Twitter (shouldn’t they be working?), but doing so can result in big wins for your financial institution. A study by a sales consultant team found that 72.6% of salespeople on social media outperform their counterparts who aren’t on social media.
In any case, social media can help banks build brand presence. For example, Jill Castilla, CEO at Citizens Bank of Edmunds, has done a tremendous job of establishing a presence on Twitter — a habit that has helped her and her bank receive plenty of attention in publications across the industry. She was even named as American Banker’s Community Banker of the Year for 2015, and American Banker touted her efforts to promote her bank via Twitter as a major reason they chose her. All this publicity has been a boon to Citizens Bank of Edmunds.
Bradley Leimer, Head of Innovation at Santander, N.A., has also experienced big gains from his efforts on social media. His 16,000+ followers — many of whom consist of the biggest names in banking and fintech — give him the ability to be heard and get published (and draw lots of traffic when he does) in publications like American Banker and The Financial Brand. All of this publicity, again, helps Santander get more attention throughout the industry.
In addition, team members who are well connected on Twitter can gain the advantage of following people who talk about the latest trends in banking and fintech. It’s a great way to stay in the know.
Social Media Mastery by Tara Ross
500 Social Media Marketing Tips by Andrew Macarthy
The Art of Social Media by Guy Kawasaki
Financial Marketer’s Guide to The Top 5 Social Media Platforms