COVID-19 Demands Major Attention to Social Media by Banking Brands

As shut-in consumers and businesses take to social media to register their cheers and jeers about financial institutions, marketers can't afford to tune out to what's being said on all channels. Today's touchy crisis atmosphere also demands close attention to what your institution is saying on social platforms and how.

Social media has always been a hot bed for negativity, and if you’re in the banking industry this comes as no surprise. Frequently social is the place where individuals and businesses go to complain about service and technical issues, as well as “optics” issues that they object to.

But with the mandatory shutdowns and social isolation, and the novel small business loans of the Paycheck Protection Program, new conversations are happening across every major social media platform.

Have people been happy or mad? The answer may surprise you. Here are three major insights we’ve uncovered.

2020 Began on an Upnote, Then COVID-19 Arrived

For the first three months of the new year, the majority of big banks had something to celebrate — their sentiment scores were starting to reach all-time highs. But when COVID-19 reached American shores and businesses were affected by mandatory shutdowns, big bank clients took their concerns to social media.

Here are the sentiment scores before and after COVID-19 was first identified in America:

Social media sentiment scores for major banks before and during early COVID

While some banks drove higher sentiment with strategic social media strategies (specifically U.S. Bank and SunTrust), the majority of brands took a hard hit.

But clearly there’s more to the story. So, let’s dive more deeply and see what types of social posts are driving positive responses during COVID-19.

When banking brands post about corporate responsibility and social good, followers react positively. That’s been a leading strategy for years now.

However, followers don’t just react positively to corporate responsibility. Prior to COVID-19, most positive conversations with audiences in the banking and finance industry were around:

  • Social good commentary
  • Promotions/advertisements
  • Customer service

One Pro Tip: Social posts on LinkedIn may not work on Twitter. Therefore, don’t just copy and paste across multiple platforms. Marketers need to be more conscious of each platform’s audience and how they might react to different announcements and content.

What should you be posting about now?

Here’s how businesses and individuals have been interacting with social media topics:

Social Media Conversation Topics: COVID-19 Sentiment (Scale: -10 to 10)

Conversation Topics Average Sentiment Before Average Sentiment During
Social good commentary 4.81 4.22 (-0.39)
Promotions/ads 2.37 0.15 (-2.22)
Customer service -1.36 0.19 (+1.17)
Locations 0.08 0.75 (+0.67)
Products/services -1.35 -0.17 (+1.18)
Technical issues -1.99 -0.41 (+1.58)
Account issues -2.21 -0.71 (+1.50)
Recommendations/advice 0.44 2.33 (+1.89)
Company commentary -0.21 -0.21 (0)
Miscellaneous 0.73 0.17 (-0.56)

Source: Nichefire, Inc.

We’ve studied numerous aspects of this. Let’s look at one: Locations. How did this category go from second to last, to fourth best?

Let’s look at some posts from U.S. Bank.

US Bank social media tweets

It doesn’t take a social media guru to understand why such posts are a major success. They scream, “We’re not just a bank. We’re members of your community!”

The key takeaway here is that your financial institution should be making connections with other businesses and with people in your local community. It doesn’t matter if they’re prospects or already doing business with you. Whether it’s ordering food from local restaurants, providing your employees with gift cards from local businesses, etc., this is strategy you can and should try immediately.

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People Are Talking on Social More Than Ever. Are You Listening?

Many marketers make the same critical mistake: Ignoring negativity and not responding to frustrated customers. Don’t be that marketer!

Social media is so much more than a tool for pushing content. It’s a direct line of communication between customers, prospects and competitors. And they’re all talking more than ever. You can’t afford not to be listening.

Here’s a breakdown of the tone of positive and negative comments financial institutions have received across social media since the beginning of the year.

How social media users feel about financial institutions

The chart can seem a bit overwhelming but there’s one clear insight. Starting in March — when mandatory shutdowns began across the nation — individuals and business started interacting with their financial institutions more than ever.

This is the perfect opportunity to address the concerns (or praise) of your customers.

Your competitors are all in the same boat. When this is all over, one of the biggest differentiators will be which brand provided the best customer service during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can use social media as a strategic tool to retain clients, stand out from your competition, and win new business.

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