By Lisa Joyce
The Financial Brand
From Our Archives Of, The Financial Brand: 10 Social Media Tips for Banks and Credit Unions
Yeah, banking is boring. But that doesn’t mean your social media needs to be. And you can bet that many in bank and credit union C-suites are scratching their heads wondering why their institution spends all this time, effort and money on social media. “It can be easy for financial institutions to dismiss social media as a waste for time,” explains Lux Narayan, CEO and cofounder or Unmetric. “But there are a lot of ways you can leverage social media to provide value to consumers while also driving engagement, brand loyalty and sales.” Here are ten tips to help you extract more value out of your financial institution’s social media activity.
1. Be Visual
Social media is your chance to go visual, says Steven Ramirez, CEO, Beyond the Arc. In fact, HubSpot found that visual content is more than 40 times more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content. Tweets with images get 18% more clicks, 89% more favorites and 150% more retweets, according to Buffer. Bank of America does a good job with visuals on Instagram, says Narayan, describing the bank’s Instagram strategy as “pretty bold.” “They give priority to visual content as the platform naturally demands,” Narayan explains. “But instead of just reposting content from their Facebook page, they’ve tailor made content to suit the demands of the audience. They’ve done a great job taking chances with Instagram, and their page is on par with that of any ‘fun’ consumer brand out there.” Sometimes when you’re in a rush, it can be tempting to just pump out a text-only post. But the key to success is to take the time to make it visual. If you’re going to repurpose and repost content from other channels, do something visual like turning the information into an infographic or a short video. Another institution that uses visual successfully on Instagram is Deer Valley Credit Union in Phoenix, says Meredith Olmstead, CEO and founder of Social Stairway. In addition to photos of credit union employees, Deer Valley also provides inspirational and humorous posts as well.
2. Tell Personal Stories
Personal stories are rarely boring, says Ben Pankonin, CEO and cofounder of Social Assurance. “When you hear of the struggle a small business faces and the challenges they overcome which often have huge financial implications, it is incredibly engaging,” explains Pankonin. “When we share the stories of lives, communities, and small businesses being changed, it is exciting.” Sunrise Bank believes in the impact of personal narratives, and peppers their social media outlets with stories about their customers.
3. Don’t Try Too Hard
“Most banks and credit unions seem like they are trying too hard on social media,” says Tim Pannell, President and CEO of Financial Marketing Solutions. “They act like a parent trying to use the ‘cool’ language of a teenager but actually come across as dumb.” Instead, get real. “The more genuine you can become in social media, the better your connection to consumers,” says Pannell. “Stop focusing so much on products and you don’t have to worry so much about compliance.
4. Focus on Micro-Moments
Pannell calls out Google for its micro-moments marketing strategy. Micro-moments are those moments that consumers turn to a device — typically a smartphone — to take an action on something happening right now. Micro-moments fall into four categories:
I want to know
I want to go
I want to buy
I want to do
Those moments are loaded with intent, context, and immediacy. If you can reach consumers during a micro-moment, you’ll increase the likelihood that they will buy.
5. Shut Up and Listen
Banks and credit unions often make the mistake of not listening to their audience, says Ramirez from Beyond the Arc. “Social listening through Twitter and Facebook provides valuable insight into what key stakeholders are thinking,” he explains. “Monitor comments and preferences for clues into what is trending and to assess the sentiment towards your brand” And don’t be afraid of negative feedback but use it to improve your messaging and the customer experience.
6. Focus on Lead Capture
The goal should be to drive social media traffic to your bank or credit union website where you can capture leads — not just generate more likes and followers. You can then build lists of qualified leads that marketing and sales can follow up with. For example, if you capture leads early in the consumer’s buying journey, like when they are shopping for a new car, you can then nurture them with useful content until they show enough interest to warrant service or sales follow-up.
7. Offer Quizzes and Contests
Ramirez recommends looking for fun, interactive ways to connect with consumers on social media. Offer contests, quizzes and special deals for likes. For example, St. Mary’s Credit Union often posts quizzes on its Facebook page, and Deer Valley Credit Union asks its members to share local tips such as their favorite local restaurant. First Bank Financial Centre uses Facebook for its “Where’s Mark Wednesday.” A bobble head figure of CEO Mark Mohr is photo shopped somewhere in the world. The first person to guess it wins a $10 Visa gift card.
Organic reach on Facebook is dead. According to Unmetric, unpromoted content generates only 90 interactions per post on average, versus 1,930 interactions with promoted content — 21 times more than organic posts. If your bank or credit union is on Facebook and Instagram, you simply must run ads, says Olmstead. “Without ads, social media is a waste of time,” she explains. “Consumers won’t see what you are doing if you don’t advertise.”
9. Take a Stand
Don’t be so flaccid and wishy washy. There’s a lot of heated conversations happening about a variety of social issues, such as LGBT rights, immigration, and sexual harassment (e.g., #metoo, #timesup). Yes, there are risks taking a stand on any social issue, since aligning your organization with a cause that could alienate some consumers. But, if you want to make an impact on social media and can walk the fine line between activism and simply standing up for social justice, the payoff can be worth it. Narayan notes that one of Bank of America’s most successful Instagram posts was about Pride Month.
10. Strategy First, Roadmap Second
Narayan sees a lot of banks and credit unions jump into social media and then decide that they need a social media strategy. In one study fielded by the ABA, only 17% of bankers said that they have developed a clear statement of the goals they want to accomplish through social media. Big mistake. Especially in a highly regulated industry, you need a solid social media strategy that is based on clear objectives. The tactical roadmap then follows. Ask yourself a few questions, says Narayan. Are you trying to monitor and reply to customer service issues? Are you trying to provide thought leadership content around financial tips and planning? Are you trying to make consumers aware of the products that will best fit their needs? Or maybe you are just trying to highlight company culture and your institutions ‘human’ side. Answers to those questions will guide your strategy.