When I began working at FNBO the social media team consisted of only a couple of people, whose focus was on promoting community events to market-specific Facebook and LinkedIn pages. This content drove local engagement, but there was no understanding of the value that social media can bring beyond local event sponsorship and awareness.
Consequently, there wasn’t much of a need for executive buy-in. After all, there wasn’t a strong strategy nor an investment of significant time, talent and resources required to execute it.
However, my boss understood the power of content marketing and advocated for a new role to be created. I became the Director of Content Marketing & Social Media Strategy. At the time, many people didn’t know what content marketing was, let alone its value, as it was a relatively new concept then.
Today FNBO has a robust content marketing and social media strategy. However, the path towards that had a number of objections that I had to counter along the way. Here are five of the most common obstacles and how to overcome them.
Objection 1: ‘I Don’t See How This Aligns With Our Business Objectives.’
The first step in gaining executive buy-in to your social media strategy is to align it with business goals. When I began defining our strategy, I made sure it supported FNBO’s business goals:
- Build market share through increased awareness.
- Acquire new accounts through new customers.
- Increase reviews and referrals through engagement.
- Help customers achieve financial prosperity and reach the goals they set for themselves.
I made it clear that our primary objective with our social media activity was to grow the business. We did that through an array of strategies aimed at moving customers through the relationship funnel from brand awareness to consideration and selection and then into customer lifecycle management, where we could focus our efforts on deepening our relationships with customers.
One current example of an instance where our social media strategy supports the above business objectives is with a Financial Fitness challenge we recently launched on our Cashology Facebook Group page to help customers reach their goals in a fun, engaging way.
Since the Challenge kicked off, engagement has risen tremendously: comments on the page have increased nearly 700%; reaction to posts increased 156%; and members of the group grew by 6% percent to 926.
Help executives at your business understand how customers become aware of your brand through social media. Your brand must be present and active on a platform to effectively tell the story of who you are and to sell your products and services.
At FNBO, we grow business through referrals and new customer contacts. Specifically, we accomplish those objectives with the following social media tactics:
- Mortgage loan officer Facebook program
- Influencer marketing activity
- Employee brand ambassadors
We aid brand awareness by creating personal connections on social channels that allow people to get to know our brand and by pushing content that makes people want to associate with us.
One example of how we have done this is through our Employee Brand Ambassador program. We provided a “Kindness is Free” box to our ambassadors and others and encouraged them to post about it social media. We then shared their posts on our corporate social media channels. We received incredible engagement and feedback from departments and employees across our organization as well as customers. The common sentiment from all responders was a desire to receive their own Kindness Box.
Our Box campaign generated 7,385 post impressions on Instagram, 34 posts from our brand ambassadors, and 191 comments on our Facebook Group from members sharing stories about how a co-worker demonstrates kindness.
The campaign supported our business goal of being a bank of choice to our customers and employer of choice to our workforce. But most importantly, it spoke to people who want to work with a bank that cares about communities, demonstrates compassion for others, and invites people to make an impact for good.
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Objection 2: ‘What Value Does It Bring Customers and Prospects?’
As you forge an identity for your financial institution on social channels, you will find that internal education about the value of social media strategy is just as critical as external education to customers of the products and services you offer.
When executives and others challenge the value of your efforts, show them the need and a clear strategy for how you will meet it. Your strategy will guide your content creation and filtration efforts, which is of utmost importance on social media.
It’s easy to get caught up in chasing trends on social channels. In a world defined by immediacy, you’ll lose your moorings without a strategy that explains who you are and what benefits you offer.
A great example of this is TikTok. For instance, many brands are running fast and working hard to create a presence on TikTok because “everybody’s doing it.” While TikTok might work for some brands, it’s not a channel on which every brand should be active. Is your intended audience active on TikTok? Do you have a product or service you can showcase in a witty way in less than 15 seconds? (Not to mention the political controversy that TikTok has attracted.)
Don’t chase the latest shiny object — focus on channels where your audience is active and which allow you to craft a presence that’s authentic to your brand.
Set a consistent tone across your channels. The right mix of messages will build awareness in markets where you are less known and enhance selection in markets where you’re already known.
At FNBO, we build relevant content that supports our messaging and channel strategies through videos, infographics, motion graphics, real imagery, polls and stories. We create connections and drive customer prosperity through advice and guidance, since we know that is what our audiences are looking for.
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Objection 3: ‘There’s So Much Content. How Do You Break Through the Clutter?’
It’s easy to throw up your hands at social media and determine it’s not worth the time and investment. Counter the objection that your brand’s voice will be drowned out. Do so by presenting management with a clear picture of who you are talking to and show that your strategy will have you interacting with your ideal audiences where they are active online.
Buyer or customer personas can be helpful here. Personas are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers.
They help you understand your customers (and prospective customers) better, and make it easier for you to tailor content to the specific needs, behaviors, and concerns of different groups.
“Personas personalize social media marketing activities for different audience segments and help make sure your overall content plan addresses each segment with appropriate weight.”
The strongest buyer personas are based on market research as well as on insights you gather from your actual customer base through surveys, interviews, and similar techniques. Depending on your business, you could have as few as one or two personas, or as many as 10 or 20.
Personas let you personalize your social media marketing activities for different segments of your audience and they help you make sure your overall content plan addresses each segment with the appropriate amount of weight. They will help you determine which channels you should have an active presence on as well as what content to post on each channel.
Here’s an example of how to devise and use a persona for social: Let’s say you determine women in their mid-twenties are an audience you want to attract to your brand. Your persona would include a made-up name, such as “Millennial Mary,” and her occupation, age, life stage and education level. Additional information to pack into your persona could include:
- A photo.
- How Mary likes to be contacted about her financial needs (i.e., face-to-face, call/text, mobile app, call center).
- Key life events where your bank can be a trusted partner (i.e., first new car, first job, engagement, student loans).
- Descriptions about her needs and concerns (i.e., Mary is just getting started; wants to be noticed; desires independence; doesn’t see a strict line between life and work; wants to work with someone she trusts; desires to partner with a cool company that can help with her financial needs and gives back to a greater good).
- Summary of her goals (i.e., network and grow in her career; volunteering; financial stability).
- List of behaviors in respect to your brand (i.e., Mary wants to interact with someone face-to-face when she is uncertain on a financial decision or direction; desires to interact with her bank digitally; wants to work with a bank that won’t take advantage of her).
Use the personas to make a clear and compelling case for each channel on which you propose being active on. For example, since Mary is a digital native who desires to interact with her bank online, it’s reasonable to try to attract her to your bank through social media channels with posts that speak to her needs, goals and interests.
Finally, share what your competitors are doing and show how your activities will drive bottom-line results.
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Objection 4: ‘You Can’t Measure It.’
As with any business goal, it’s critical to determine how you will measure progress toward it. Social media is no different. What metrics will help you track your progress? Determine those metrics now.
In our reports, we tie measurements to business goals. We remind executives that our social media strategy supports our business goal to “interact with our community base on a personal level through community relationships, customer service and marketing and promotions.”
We then report on progress toward that goal by tracking impressions, overall engagement rate, traffic to our website through link clicks, and follower growth. We break out each by social channel and report on increases or declines over the previous month. We also continually measure ourselves against our competitors to show executives where we are positioned.
Once your activity is underway, share analytics and insights as well as progress in regular, monthly updates to executives that demonstrate the value of your content marketing activity. Show them what content is effective and report on impressions, engagement, actions and follower growth.
At FNBO, we report on our social success and measure the impact of our competitors. We try to be as clear and concise as possible and aim to help executives understand what’s working, why it’s working and what value it delivers to the business, particularly in light of business goals.
Objection 5: ‘It Will Take Up Too Much Time for Our Employees.’
This objection goes to the heart of every objection against a robust social media strategy: What value does it bring our business?
Social media takes time, talent and resources. Our industry is a relationship business and social media is a giant referral system. Prove the value by reminding executives that everything you do is geared towards building relationships and loyalty.
Help them understand that content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust and trust drives revenue. So what you do as a content marketer matters. It can and should have an indirect impact on revenue growth.
Beyond that, engaging your employees in your strategy will improve its effectiveness and create a groundswell for your program. Let them be brand advocates for you on social media.
If you do this right, and not in a heavy-handed way, you can amplify your reach and effectiveness on social media.
Once You’re Over the Objections: Press On With Patience
When you begin, there may be little excitement over your efforts. Stick with it. Over the course of six months, I’ve seen engagement internally go from non-existent to a long list of people who want to contribute.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and your social media strategy won’t be either, but if you handle objections wisely, you’ll earn the buy-in you need.