June 27, 2016 Dan Duval, CEO

Social Media for Financial Institutions – Which Platforms Work Best?

 

Some platforms are better than others when it comes to social media for financial institutions.

These days most banks and credit unions have a Facebook page. It may be inactive, but they have a social presence, and that’s better than nothing, so we’re not going to judge. But what if you’re ready to expand beyond Facebook? What if you’re looking to promote commercial products to a business audience, or you feel like you could get better engagement with your members/customers and the community if you just knew which platform to move to?

LinkedIn and Twitter – The Perfect Social Media Platforms Financial Institutions

LinkedIn and Twitter Work Together – Many financial institutions get the value of LinkedIn and talk about adding Twitter later on. We also run into clients who don’t consider Twitter at all because they just don’t see its value. But according to Convinceandconvert.com, Twitter users are 3 times more likely to follow brands than Facebook users. Statistics from sites like Statistic Brain and ConvinceandConvert reflect that between 40-50% of Twitter users never tweet at all, but read tweets from those they follow on a daily basis. Since LinkedIn offers a direct way to cross-post with Twitter, why not build out the two platforms at the same time and get started? By posting on LinkedIn and cross posting to Twitter you can enjoy the benefits both sites offer in driving traffic to your website, to your blog, or to specific product/service pages.

LinkedIn Helps Build Reputation – LinkedIn is the perfect platform to build reputation for your sales team and your institution. Take advantage of your options with your company page. Build out a complete summary including:

  • Locations
  • Mission statement
  • Value statement
  • History
  • Commentary on your community involvement, awards, and more

Consider your company page an opportunity to provide a full picture of who you are as a company and who you are looking to do business with, as well as what kind of business you do.

Showcase Pages Offer Specific Area Highlights – Another aspect of LinkedIn, Showcase Pages highlight specific areas or products offered by a company. If you haven’t heard about Showcase Pages, it might be time to get caught up. Previously, LinkedIn offered separate tabs to highlight specific areas of your company. These were removed a few years ago, and many companies aren’t even aware that they’re gone. Now Showcase pages fill that gap, and allow you to have a dedicated section for topics like Mortgages, Lending, Investment Services, Business Services, the opportunities are endless.

Keep Your Brand Look Consistent

For both LinkedIn and Twitter you’ll want to keep your social media presence consistent. That means a branded company page including cover photo and profile picture as appropriate. If you’re building out Showcase pages, each one of those will also need cover and profile images. Consider different cover and profile images for Showcase Pages that represent the people and products/topics that will be posted about on that page. Remember though that all images used for social presence should maintain your brand’s look and feel so the online community recognizes your bank or credit union across the various sites.

So How Often and What Should You Post on LinkedIn?

With LinkedIn you can share daily posts, links to content from other sites, links to blog content, highlight a community event, etc. Since LinkedIn is a business networking platform, stick to industry news, career updates, awards, community events, etc. LinkedIn is not the place for contests, employee of the month features, spirit day images, etc.

Post to LinkedIn at Least Weekly, But Daily is Even Better – You may ask yourself where all the content will come from. Don’t worry about original content to start. Instead, use curated content for the bulk of your posts with original content being shared only a few times a month.  Consider using outside sources for original content. McDougall + Duval offers this service on a per post arrangement, or can provide you with a content retainer agreement. That’s a great way to build quality content. Remember, content that is ghostwritten can list any of your employees or the financial institution itself as the author to build reputation. LinkedIn provides some great tips on writing Long-Form posts that will build engagement.

Posts can also be shared and cross-posted on twitter simply by clicking the twitter box in the post. Twice weekly posts to LinkedIn then become twice weekly posts to Twitter. That’s why taking advantage of the LinkedIn-Twitter connection can make significant strides towards your overall social media strategy.

But What About Facebook? Don’t Give It Up!

Why Not? Because Everyone Is On Facebook.

Facebook is still the obvious choice to reach the average consumer. From kids to parents to grandparents, everyone’s there. Some interesting stats from expandedramblings.com:

  • As of 9/16/15, 91% of millennials aged 15 – 34 used Facebook
  • Estimated U.S. Facebook Users by 2018 – 169.2 Million
  • 65% of monthly Facebook Users use the platform daily!

If you don’t think your audience is using Facebook, think again. Regardless of industry, family status, age, or income level, people are touched by Facebook.

Timeline Feed Changes Have Impacted Reach – But You Should Still Be There

Facebook has made, and continues to make changes to how their timeline feeds work. Because of this your posts will only reach a small percentage of your audience. Posting content that is known to receive higher engagement levels (photos, videos, links) or “paying to play” with boosted posts is one way to boost your reach and in some cases actually get significant results.

How Often Can You Post to Facebook Without Annoying People?

Given the changes Facebook has made to its feed (lowering your reach to 20% or less of your followers), posting daily isn’t going to result in you bombarding anyone with a message unless your engagement rate is very high. High engagement is interpreted by Facebook as your post being “good stuff” and will give it a priority ranking. But for most institutions and posts, set a posting goal of 2 – 3 times per week minimum.

What Should I Post to Facebook?

The main goal is to post quality content. Not sure what your audience considers quality? Monitor your posts and see what connects. Consider posts on:

  • Employee of the month
  • Video of a community event
  • Sharing a recent post from your blog

Boost Events and Special Promotions!

Having an event or special and want to make certain to connect with your chosen audience? Consider boosting your post. You can try it out for as little as $5 for one day and see what traffic it brings in. For a special event like a first-time homebuyers or retirement seminar, wouldn’t it be worth it to spread the word for $5?

If you’re running a special promotion don’t be afraid to include it in your feed and boost it. The great thing is your boosted post can be targeted to reach a chosen audience beyond your fan base. You may even find your fan base growing. That means more people to target for future posts and promotions.

A Fan Base Is Not the Point, It’s What You Do WITH Those Fans That Makes the Difference

That’s right, there is a reason to build a fan base. It’s not just about having more followers or likes than your competition. Take advantage of that audience by targeting them with special promotions or offers. These days Facebook users are accustomed to businesses being on Facebook. 2 – 3 years ago that was considered inappropriate for social media, but things have definitely changed. Remember, they followed you for a reason. Make them glad that they did. For just $10 you can reach 800 – 1000 more people, short money to spread the word about something that’s important to your company. You’re probably paying more than that for PPC ads on Google or Bing. Why not put a small percentage of that spend towards social media advertising? Your audience is out there.

Just remember, as mentioned previously, your audience (both existing customers/members and prospective) are on Facebook. They share information, experiences, and opinions constantly. If you’re not also active on the channel, you’ll miss the negative and the positive, both of which provide an opportunity for you to demonstrate your level of service and interest in engagement. Whether you choose to go the free route or you invest in a Facebook presence, Facebook is a fact of life for a very large percentage of your target audience.

Why Social Media for Financial Institutions?

Developing a strategy, and a purpose for being “on social media,” will provide a guide for involvement and a way to measure success. Some reasons for being on social media:

  • Driving traffic to your website
  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Developing an interested group for feedback
  • Connecting with community
  • Building reputation
  • Platform for education
  • Promoting (product, event, service, etc.)

Keep in mind, having sales as part of your strategy isn’t a bad thing. But even social media for financial institutions  is about being social. If your focus is primarily on collecting likes/followers you’re missing the mark. When your bank or credit union takes full advantage of the community, education, and service aspects as they relate to a financial institution you’re actively engaged.

Social Media is About Being Social.

Consider it like a party. No one wants to sit near the guy who’s only talking about work, or worse yet, is trying to sell something to anyone who will listen. But every good party, and conversation combines a mix of fun, networking, common interests, and change to meet someone new. Keep that in mind when you’re building your social media posting calendar. Keep posts appropriate to the platform (Facebook is family fun, LinkedIn is professional, Twitter is a mix) and monitor your results to determine what works for you.

If you’re considering expanding your social media presence beyond Facebook, looking for content or just starting to test the waters with one or two platforms, McDougall + Duval advertising is happy to chat with you about the compliance issues, management, content development, and even training of your staff. Visit our website to learn more about us and the services we can provide to support the next step of your social media journey.

 

Resources:

http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/by-the-numbers-17-amazing-facebook-stats/

http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheets/social-networking-fact-sheet/

http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/locowise-march-2015/619104

https://www.facebook.com/business/news/Organic-Reach-on-Facebook

https://www.linkedin.com/help/linkedin/answer/47537

http://www.statisticbrain.com/twitter-statistics/

http://www.convinceandconvert.com/


Madeline Anderson-Balmer is Vice President and Director of Digital Marketing for McDougall + Duval Advertising and writes from her 20+ years of experience working with banks and credit unions. She can analyze a company’s web presence, assist in AdWords strategy and oversight, and help build ROI reports to prove the return on your marketing budget. She’s also a great source for original content.

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