From building brand awareness to targeting specific consumer segments with product promotions, social media can help financial institutions achieve a wide range of business goals.
Most banks and credit unions have already integrated social media into their marketing mix. In fact, nine out of ten financial institutions are using Facebook, and more than half are using at least one other platform such as Twitter or LinkedIn. However, some financial institutions are still reluctant to fully embrace social media because they don’t see how it aligns with their real business objectives. Here are 9 different ways that social media can support your organization’s strategic goals and priorities.
1. Generate Brand Awareness
Creating awareness of your brand in consumers’ minds is an essential first step to achieving business results. In research conducted by Simply Measured, brand awareness is one of the top goals for many social media marketing programs. In fact, Facebook has even introduced a “Brand Awareness” ad specifically designed to accomplish this very thing.
Through social media, institutions can engage with their community in a way that showcases and strengthens their bank or credit union’s brand identity. This might involve posting product or about-related information, sharing content from industry partners, liking pages the institution supports or commenting back to consumers. These tactics increase your visibility and help point a spotlight on your brand.
It is important that when making updates or participating in conversations, your institution reflects its brand strategy — from your promise and personality to your voice and visuals — as this consistency impacts consumer trust and will contribute to brand recognition.
2. Differentiate Your Brand
While many financial institutions offer similar products and services, each organization should have its own unique brand story, mission, vision, values and philosophy. By presenting these defining qualities, your bank or credit union has an opportunity to separate itself from the competition and connect with consumers who share similar ideals.
For instance, your financial institution may develop a content marketing strategy for social media that conveys its principles and beliefs in a way that demonstrates value and benefits to your target audience. This is essential to the art of brand positioning.
Additionally, social media gives you opportunities to present your products and services uniquely from others in your industry. But instead of focusing on purely on the products themselves, talk about them in terms of how they support people’s needs, wants and dreams, or in relation to common life stages. This helps you humanize your banking products and your brand. For example, if you want to increase mortgage loans, focus on how you can help consumers get their dream home, and use real-world case studies and testimonials to give your brand story credibility.
3. Attract Your Target Audience
Whether your financial institution wants to focus on younger Millennials or moms in their late 30s, social media allows financial marketers target ads to very specific and tightly-defined audiences. With the ability to tap into valuable consumer data collected by social platforms including location, age, gender, interests and more, Buffersocial says banks and credit unions can reach 89% of their intended audience vs. only 38% with other digital targeting tactics. This enables financial institutions to connect with individuals on a more personal level, using marketing messages that are more relevant, and subsequently, more effective.
If your institution is trying to promote debit card usage among college students, marketing managers can create a custom ad campaign specifically for this audience — perhaps positioning debit cards as an easy way to order late-night pizza. Another benefit of targeted ads is that you can minimize marketing waste — you don’t need to show irrelevant ads to an audience you aren’t trying to reach.
4. Increase Product Adoption
Awareness among your target audience is the first step, but getting them to ultimately take action is every financial marketer’s goal. Not only can you use social media to position your products and increase interest, but certain channels — such as Facebook and Twitter — offer ad sets specially designed to facilitate product adoption. Here are three examples from Facebook:
- App Install ads allow you to promote your bank or credit union’s mobile banking application on your target audience’s timeline, driving users directly to your app in the Apple or Android store, so they can download to their device.
- Website Conversion ads enable you to track user website activity after seeing your Facebook ad, allowing you to identify and leverage what kind of content motivates action.
- Offer Claims allow you to create limited-time promotion via Facebook that can be obtained on your website, creating a sense of timelines and exclusivity to encourage users to act.
These ads are specifically intended to increase conversions, while simultaneously working to boost awareness and interest among your target audience in various stages of the customer journey.
5. Generate New Accounts and Cultivate Relationships
By increasing product adoption, social media helps banks and credit unions attract new customers and members. Marketing Tech found that 70% of business-to-consumer marketers have gained new customers using Facebook. With an effective inbound marketing strategy, these newly-established relationships can become long term and grow in profitability through cross-selling, sticky services and more.
While social media helps generate new relationships, it can also help cultivate existing ones. Social media is thought to be one of the most effective digital marketing tactics for customer retention — second only to email, according to TNW News. The online community is accustomed to checking their social media feeds regularly, and many consumers will use Twitter to resolve customer service concerns and Facebook to catch up on what’s new, as a matter of course.
6. Establish Your Institution as a Thought-Leader
Consumers value authenticity and are more responsive to information or solution-oriented messages than traditional product pushes. Social media is a strategic vehicle for sharing valuable content with your community. Whether it is a helpful financial management blog, FAQs about popular products, a budgeting infographic or how-to article about saving money, providing this type of content can position your institution as an industry leader and subject-matter expert. It also illustrates the institution’s commitment to consumers’ financial success, further increasing confidence in your brand and ability to support their banking needs.
While sharing content sourced elsewhere online is okay if you don’t have the resources to create your own, ideally your financial institution should invest in creating original branded content. This explains why 51% of companies develop custom content to distribute across appropriate social media channels, according to ContentStandard. A content strategy fortified with original thought leadership allows financial marketers to align articles, blog posts, videos, newsletters and more with their desired marketing goals.
7. Drive Website Traffic & Tracking
With the ability to provide links in posts and profile information, social media is a great way to generate traffic to your website. According to HubSpot, 80% of marketers suggest that their activity on social media increased visits to their site. Whether you want to increase visits to your homepage, specific product pages on your site or campaign landing pages, social media can help create interest and inspire clicks. This encourages individuals to explore your products, services and brand, thus supporting your overarching awareness, product adoption and differentiation goals. Also, if your financial institution has a blog, you’re more likely to encourage return visits and build profitable relationships.
Popular website analytics platforms, such a Google Analytics or Tag Manager, can then be used to monitor traffic from social and track subsequent website activity — from clicking a call to action to closing a window. This information can give insight into the effectiveness of your consumer journey, from social media to your site. From there, your institution can optimize the customer journey along the sales funnel for maximum conversions. It is key to offer consistent messaging from one channel to the next to deliver a seamless experience that generates trust and encourages account openings and applications.
8. Manage Digital Marketing Budgets
Unlike many forms of traditional advertising, social media allows you to set your own budget. Depending on your financial institution’s goals and spending, you can allocate just $10 a month… or $10,000 a month. Regardless of how much you spend, you still attain the same relative quality impressions and impact, just a proportionate quantity based on your ad spend. Knowing that the more you spend, the more people with see your promoted content allows financial marketers to work within their specific budget, allocating an appropriate amount within their reserved ad dollars.
Over time, social platforms have altered their algorithms to decrease the number of individuals that see organic posts, so advertising is necessary to ensure your content is seen by your online community. It is likely for these reasons — along with the effectiveness of social advertising in generating real results — that social media marketing budgets are projected to more than double by 2020, according to The CMO Survey.
9. Gain Business Intelligence
Insights gathered from social media can help inform your overall business and marketing strategy. It’s no surprise that, according to HubSpot, 71% of marketers are using social media for this very purpose — to gain marketplace intelligence. Banks and credit unions can learn a lot from looking at popular content, consumer feedback and competitors. If certain types of post generate higher engagement, it would be strategic to develop and distribute more content of similar character. If you receive consistent consumer feedback about a particular aspect of your operations, it might be a good idea to consider adapting that part of your institution’s overall business model. Furthermore, monitoring your competitors allows you to identify opportunities for differentiating yourself in the market to better appeal to your target audience.
Simply Measured found that while built-in platform analytics are most commonly used to measure social media marketing efforts (65%), website analytics tools are almost equally popular (59%). Both offer benefits in terms of understanding perceptions, such as likes and engagement, as well as performance, including website visits, page views, call to action clicks and other key performance indicators that provide valuable business intelligence.
When creating a social media strategy, it is important to outline your specific goals so that you can continuously monitor and measure performance — and make any necessary adjustments to ensure success along the way. Additionally, it is smart to plan your approach and purpose for the platforms you intend on actively participating. This will help ensure that you make the most of each channels’ unique qualities to reach your financial institution’s intended outcomes.