Say What?!? You Better Listen to Social Media Buzz About Your Brand

Do you know what people are saying about your institution’s brand on social networks? Here's why you must establish a social media listening post inside your organization.

Are you listening to what people are saying about you and your competitors in digital channels? If not, you’re missing out on a big opportunity to drive traffic and sales, protect your brand’s reputation and obtain valuable intel on other financial institutions you could be stealing business from.

If you are responsible for managing your bank or credit union’s digital brand, you may also face negative consequences from regulatory agencies if you’re not monitoring your social media presence to their satisfaction. Here’s why social media monitoring is an absolute must for your financial institution, and what you need to look out for.

Listen Before You Post

Social media monitoring is most effectively handled through a third-party tool. One of the most beneficial reasons to use a social media monitoring tool is to understand the conversations surrounding your brand — before you develop your social strategy. Instead of assuming you know how to manage your social media presence, take the time to listen and learn first.

Imagine if you didn’t listen first, and then created a large quantity of branded content only to find out that once you established your Twitter page, all the comments you received were unrelated questions that you were unprepared to answer? Instead, if you listened before you developed your strategy, you might have seen how many people were asking questions about customer service issues, and you would have set your social media team up with a FAQ library to make it quick and easy for them to respond swiftly.

Drive Traffic and Sales from Influencers

You’ll want to identify if there are any social media influencers that may be speaking about your brand. If you have a few brand ambassadors singing your praises, you should figure out how you can amplify their message or give them some love in ways that will encourage them to continue. Just be careful not to violate the FTC’s social media endorsement guidelines.

Forrester has found that only 15% of consumers trust brands’ social media posts, while 70% trust product or brand recommendations from friends and family. Therefore, if you can harness the power of the people who are willing to give you a true endorsement, then you can add value to those social media conversations by posting related links and comments to help drive traffic and sales to new promotions, resources or product pages. A best practice in this area is to look for how much social media traffic led to a conversion or assisted conversion using Google Analytics.

Protect Your Brand’s Reputation

Nearly three years ago, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council issued guidance for financial institutions to use social media monitoring tools to protect their brand’s reputation and actively monitor for others impersonating their brand online. This excerpt outlined the elements and expectations for building a compliance risk management program around social media:

“Financial institutions should consider the use of social media monitoring tools and techniques to identify heightened risk, and respond appropriately. Financial institutions should have appropriate policies in place to monitor and address in a timely manner the fraudulent use of the financial institution’s brand, such as through phishing or spoofing attacks.”

Think it can’t happen to you? Think again. Recall this story about an internet troll who posed as a customer service agent from Target and spent time sending snarky replies to their customers’ inquiries. Curious how that went down? The self-proclaimed troll has posted a Facebook album full of screen shots to show off his attacks. Vigilant social media brand monitoring would have alerted Target that this was going on, so they could immediately put an end to it.

Read More:Fighting Axe Grinders and Their Online Vendettas

Monitor What Employees Are Saying

Another benefit to having a social media monitoring plan and tool is to monitor your employees’ mentions of your company. This area of social media monitoring can be tricky because the National Labor Relations Act protects employees’ rights to act together to address conditions at work, with or without a union. While this can be a gray area, it’s prudent to make sure that your own employees aren’t disparaging your institution or others online.

The FFIEC says that monitoring your employees’ comments is critical because comments made by employees may be viewed by the public as reflecting the institution’s policies and may reflect poorly on your brand. An employee’s online presence can also open the bank or credit union up to operational risk, reputation risk and compliance risk.

One example of a potential violation is if a customer is friends with their mortgage officer on social media and starts asking questions via Facebook or Twitter. The mortgage officer may need to include required disclosures with certain statements. The FFIEC advises on creating social media policies and procedures and training your employees on them at a minimum.

With so many regulations and potential violations, it can be hard to understand what’s okay and not in this space. Reference this handy guide that can break down these risks and provide some mitigation tactics.

Read More:Send a Tweet, Get Fired

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Manage Customer Service & Consumer Complaints and Inquiries

If you use social media to increase retention and brand loyalty, your social media monitoring tool plays and important role, especially since it costs five times as much to acquire a new customer vs. retaining one. Social media monitoring tools can uncover many of the brand mentions that aren’t directed towards your specific social page. When looking for a social media monitoring tool, you’ll want to figure out what areas it monitors outside of the top social media sites, including blogs and review sites, and if it can provide an archive of all communication.

A social media tool can also be helpful for managing customer complaints and assigning certain posts to your social media team members to ensure they are handled quickly. Social media has the potential for posts to go viral quickly, so speed and accuracy is of the essence in this channel. The FFIEC noted that, “Although a financial institution can take advantage of the public nature of social media to address customer complaints and questions, reputation risks exist when the financial institution does not address consumer questions or complaints in a timely or appropriate manner. Further, the participatory nature of social media can expose a financial institution to reputation risks that may arise when users post critical or inaccurate statements.”

Financial institutions also need to comply with the Community Reinvestment Act, which states that financial institutions must keep a record of complaints and comments from the public on if they are helping the community meet their credit needs.

Know the Rules

If you outsource your marketing and communications to third-parties, the public doesn’t give you a pass if there’s misleading or harmful information posted. And even if your institution handles social media marketing in-house, additional staff beyond the social media manager should keep a close eye on what’s being posted under your institution’s name. This is where monitoring reports can be helpful for Chief Marketing Officers and others that aren’t directly involved in the day-to-day social media planning. Look for social media monitoring tools that allow you to set up daily or weekly digests of what’s been posted, so other team members can stay in the social loop.

Especially in the financial services arena, there is a greater need to be careful about your marketing messages. This post outlines some of the most important advertising regulations that your marketing team must understand when creating content for your social media pages about checking and savings, credit, insurance, mortgages and investment products.

Keep Tabs on Your Competition

Another benefit to having a social monitoring tool is to help your institution stay updated on what your competition is doing. Through many social media monitoring tools, you can figure out what posts and campaigns are engaging your competition’s community and which ones may be falling flat, so that you can learn from this. You can also benchmark yourself against your competition to give a better sense of your social media metrics.

Competitive social media monitoring can also help your bank or credit union get a pulse on new products or services that your competition is newly offering or is about to launch. This can give great insight to your product managers and other departments on how they may want to adjust their current offers to remain competitive, or create new offers to fulfill a need.

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