According to Marketo, financial service firms saw a 31% year-over-year growth in social media marketing, financial institutions still lag behind other major industries in effectively engaging along the most popular channels. Financial marketers must overcome significant challenges in order to connect with consumers on social media networks, balancing the unique requirements of the financial industry with today’s social media best practices. In fact, according to a recent study by Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting Group, a whopping 87% of consumers find banks’ use of social media to be annoying, boring or unhelpful.
Financial institutions must consistently engage consumers, while aligning to current business goals of the bank or credit union, such as increasing new account openings, loan applications, in-branch consultations, etc. In order to realize significant ROI from social media marketing, financial institutions need to understand how to properly leverage each of the major social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube – before taking on additional sites, like Pinterest and Instagram.
Ideal for community outreach, Facebook is the most widely accepted social sharing site, allowing financial institutions create a business page for posting updates, photos and videos. As cited by the Pew Research Center, 71% of internet users are on Facebook, making it the most popular social media site by far. With its widespread adoption, Facebook is tailor-made for connecting with existing and potential consumers. Best Practices:
- Vary content between text- and image-based posts, sharing updates and asking questions of the Facebook following.
- Post high-quality photos of loan officers, customer service representatives, tellers, volunteers, customers and partners on Facebook to engage consumers with familiar faces.
- Extend public relations activities to Facebook with community involvement stories, special announcements, volunteering activities, charitable donations, and more.
- Run Facebook Ads and Promoted Posts to ensure post visibility and generate more Likes and clicks to the corporate site.
- Leverage Facebook Events to publicize and invite the community to branch happenings, increasing foot traffic to the institution’s offices.
- Promote exclusive offers and incentives for visiting the branches, opening up accounts, etc.
- Stimulate the financial institution’s user base with Facebook contests offering an on-brand prize incentive, such as a gift card.
- Create custom tabs within the Facebook page to highlight contests, branch locations, services, careers, Twitter feed and more.
- Use custom photography and Facebook’s Locations functionality to convey the distinct, regional feel at the branch level.
- Aim for five posts a week, Monday through Friday between these hours: 6-8AM, 2-5PM.
- Track key metrics, such as total likes, new likes, reach and engagement.
Facebook is the prime social media channel to show the culture and personality of the financial institution with fun and interesting updates that relate to the employees, mission and philosophy.
Twitter is a microblogging site where financial institutions post 140-character messages to interact with their social media base. As cited by Financial Social Media, 45% of Twitter’s adult account holders are interacting with financial services firms. Focusing on corporate communications, marketing, and customer service, Twitter is ideal for banks and credit unions to stay connected with their online community in the most immediate way. This social media platform allows financial institutions to engage directly with consumers to promote new products, manage relationships, conduct market research and more. Best Practices:
- Utilize Twitter primarily as a newsfeed for the financial institution, providing lead-ins, headlines and links to announcements, blog entries, events, investor notifications, news articles, press releases and timely promotions.
- Include popular, industry-specific hashtags, such as #financial, in posts to capitalize on trends and show up in Twitter search.
- Utilize image-based tweets as well as Twitter’s functional Website Cards to follow the social media movement towards visual content.
- Support financial institution employees, partners and potential new business with strategic use of Retweets and Favorites.
- Utilize as a customer service channel to listen and respond to customer questions and comments.
- Employ a social listening tool, such as HootSuite or Sprout Social, to monitor brand reputation and respond on Twitter accordingly.
- Tease frequently asked questions, driving to answers on the corporate site to supplement customer service.
- Promote content with Twitter Ads, particularly Sponsored Tweets to cut through timeline clutter and attract new followers.
- Integrate Twitter into social media contests that align with the financial institution’s brand messaging and business goals.
- Tweet at least three (3) times per week, particularly on the weekends.
- Track key metrics, such as followers, retweets, replies, and mentions.
Assisted by brand-monitoring tools, Twitter makes it possible for financial marketers to discover who’s talking about your institution and why.
LinkedIn is the premier networking site where financial institutions can interact with millions of business professionals and engage in thousands of organized groups for the financial industry. As reported by BMO Global Asset Management, 73% of the 5 million investors that use social media to help with financial decisions rely on LinkedIn as their main source of social financial information – more than Facebook, Google+ and Twitter combined. Perfect for talent and business acquisition, LinkedIn is best for networking with other like-minded professionals in retail banking. It allows banks and credit unions to raise their profile within the financial marketplace among consumers in the workforce. Human resources can use this platform to recruit and hire talent for financial institutions. Best Practices:
- Highlight business banking offerings with links to the financial institution website.
- Post updates with links to insightful, brand-generated articles and blog posts.
- Utilize LinkedIn for job postings, using the Careers tab.
- Explore the paid premium job postings using the targeted Sponsored Jobs placement.
- Connect with small business, commercial and corporate clients with targeted updates.
- Incorporate Showcase Pages into the Company Profile to promote on specific personal and business solutions.
- Post within the top financial industry groups, such as Finance Club, Finance Plus
- and Super CFO to demonstrate industry influence and attract new followers.
- Establish a Group, where the institution can ask and answer common financial questions to build trust and loyalty.
- Coach new business employees on proper LinkedIn engagement to generate leads from their personal accounts.
- Post at least one (1) update from company profile and within Groups per week on a Tuesday or Thursday.
- Track key metrics, such as followers, reach, engagement and page views.
With proper training and oversight, key stakeholders and brand ambassadors of financial intuitions can show thought leadership within discussion groups made up of interested parties on LinkedIn.
Specialized for education and branding, YouTube is the top channel to upload the institution’s video clips, including product or service demonstrations and video blogs. According to the Earnest Agency, 75% of Senior Corporate Executives watch videos on business sites every week. YouTube effectively exhibits banking solutions that are conducive to a visual medium, such as tutorials, training, etc. The financial institution can use this social media platform to show expertise via recorded interviews of key stakeholders. Best Practices:
- Establish a corporate presence on YouTube for the financial institution’s commercials, tutorials, recruitment, customer care, events and parties and location-based videos.
- Create specialized Channels by business line or area of focus to better categorize the video subject matter.
- Utilize Playlists to organize video content by theme and type within each Channel.
- Share relevant, existing videos on main corporate account.
- Plan and budget for new video content as needed.
- Post educational videos for financial management and planning basics.
- Upload how-to tutorials for online banking, mobile banking and other e-services.
- Consider video advertising through YouTube as warranted and budgeted.
- Verify the Branded Channel and work with a YouTube representative to unlock additional features with a verified account via the Creator Hub.
- Post as often as new video content allows, aiming for once a week, preferably midweek.
- Track key metrics, such as views, likes, comments and shares.
With embedding and linking features, YouTube also makes it easy to leverage video along the financial institution’s online and mobile channels.
Important for branding and search, Google+ is the social media platform to post routine updates and link to the financial institution’s site pages, videos and articles. As reported by Digital Information World, there are about 2.2 billion Google+ profiles online with 300 million in-stream users. The built-in functionality of Google+ updates makes it worthwhile to drive to visual content online. With Google owning both social media channels, Google+ is conducive for linking to videos on YouTube. Best Practices:
- Leverage Google+ Pages to bolster other social media efforts, by posting similar updates from other social media platforms.
- Drive to key pages on the financial institution’s website, programmatically displaying a thumbnail image in Google+ for more visual impact.
- Fuel Google’s search algorithm by including SEO-friendly keywords and phrases in posts, so potential customers will see the financial institution in search results.
- Align Google Places locations with Google+ pages to support local SEO.
- Integrate Google+ account with YouTube channel to display your financial institution’s name.
- Engage new business targets on Google+, adding them to Circles and commenting on their posts.
- Create Google Events to schedule Hangouts, webinars or in-branch events.
- Use Google Hangouts to conduct thought-leadership webinars and launch new service offerings.
- Post at least two (2) times per week, ideally on Tuesday and Thursday between 9-11am.
- Track key metrics, such as followers, notifications, +1 and circles.
Because it is the social media layer of the most popular search engine, Google+ posts strengthen your institution’s SEO strategy and overall search engine presence.
Utilize Each Social Channel Uniquely, But Under a Common Marketing Theme
Financial institutions are challenged with creating compelling content that meets compliance regulations, while also adhering to the 80/20 rule of providing informative entertainment to promotional posts. With The DigitalFA finding that nearly two in three of mass affluent consumers take action after using social media to discover and consider financial products and services, the opportunity for business growth via social media marketing is significant for banks and credit unions.
Typically, a financial institution’s marketing department doesn’t have dedicated in-house social media design, strategy and development resources, so many institutions collaborate with external social media experts to conduct social media marketing, creating comprehensive campaigns to be delivered strategically along the most appropriate social media channels. Social media campaigns are most effective when each platform is working together consistently under a common theme, with the unique messaging and content types customized for each channel. Appreciating the strengths of each major social media platform assists financial marketers in establishing a focused and manageable social media strategy.
Chris Rinaldi is a Digital Strategist at ZAG Interactive, a full-service digital agency in Glastonbury CT that has built hundreds of bank and credit union websites. To discuss your digital strategy needs with ZAG, call 860.633.4818.