July 25, 2016 Dan Duval, CEO

Social Engagement – It’s Not Just a Popularity Contest

If you're all alone at the party, you probably need more social engagement!

Whether you like it or not, social media has become a part of daily life for most of us in the U.S. Facebook alone has over 1.65 billion monthly users world-wide, and 167 million daily users in the U.S. and Canada. 91% of Millennials use Facebook. So, if you want to connect with your target audience in a place they frequent daily, you’re going to consider social media.

For banks and credit unions, the need to consider social media can be a struggle. Compliance concerns abound. In 2013, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) released guidelines to help address those concerns. These are not requirements or rules, but instead guidance to assist in understanding potential risks and expectations for managing risks related to compliance, reputation and operational issues. For the FFIEC’s purposes, social media includes any form of interactive online communication, including email and text messaging.

Once you're approved to start on social, the fun begins

So you received the green light from compliance and management has approved implementing a social media strategy. The following tips can assist in goal setting on social media. They also provide thoughts on analyzing results, and ways to take full advantage of these ever growing platforms.

How Can You Make It Work for Your Business?

Social engagement isn’t just about liking, following and sharing someone else’s content. Curating content does allow you to get started on social media without a lot of effort. It helps fill in a social calendar, and results in your posting more frequently. This results in your ability to maintain an active presence. But if you’re going to consider actual resources to build out a full social profile you probably hear, “what does social media do for a business? Isn’t it just about connecting with friends, playing games, sharing photos of your vacation, and watching cat videos?”

Actually no. Being active on social media can provide numerous opportunities for your business including:

  • Providing another touchpoint to your company
  • Educating customers and prospects about your brand, product, service
  • Promoting a special deal or new product
  • Giving voice and face to your brand
  • Offering an invitation to an event
  • Demonstrating community support

And by taking advantage of the above through social media, you’ll be building connections, leads, and brand awareness — not such a bad thing.

Stay On Top of the Competition

Check out your competition. How are they using social media? Can you set goals for your own company to beat that competition? Can you find ways to stand out from them and gain higher engagement in this new (or seemingly new) arena? Kissmetrics’ blog provides a great list of social monitoring tools to keep an eye on the competition to see what they’re doing, and get a finger on the pulse of your industry’s social media position. It’s nice to stay ahead of the curve, but sometimes it’s also nice to get some ideas from others. Explore what they’re doing, consider their ideas as a jumping off point for your own!

Social Media is Your Ticket to the Party

Be an interactive, engaging, relevant participant and you may be surprised at the benefits that you enjoy. Have you ever been at a party where someone said, “are we having fun yet?” That’s usually the sign of a party that may not be going quite as well as the host had hoped. Maybe the focus is wrong, maybe the guests don’t mesh well, maybe expectations were different than reality. But with social media, if you’re asking yourself whether you’re “having fun” yet, it may be because you don’t know what to measure. You need to know what can be measured and what can show a true bottom line value. With that information, you can show that when all is said and done, you actually “had fun” and found a business reason for being at the party.

Measuring Results with Social Media

Reach and Impressions Aren’t the Same Thing

Depending on the platform you’re using, you may see numbers related to views, reach, impressions, and more. They can mean slightly different things. Hubnami provides a simple explanation, but my example for Facebook below might be the easiest to understand.

For Facebook, a platform that the largest percentage of businesses use,

“Reach” = the number of individual people for whom your post was displayed.

Impressions = the total number of times your post was seen.

For example: if your next post is seen by two people, your reach is two. But if person #2 shares that post and person #1 sees it again (because they’re connected to #2) your impressions will be three while your reach is still only two. If it gets shared and a new person sees it, your reach is three and your impressions are also three.

If you’re looking to gain brand awareness (one of the biggest benefits of social), monitor both reach and impressions. Reach reflects exposure and impressions reflects frequency. Both numbers are important if you’re paying to promote a post, and want to understand their impact when analyzing the data. You can even do a breakdown of cost for these numbers. Calculating the cost per person reached, similar to what you’d measure with billboards, or print ads where you can’t really track more than readership. However, the benefit to social is that you KNOW someone saw your post/ad. With a billboard or a newspaper ad you aren’t always sure they were looking where your ad was placed. With social, you know they’re active on the site.

Engagement and Clicks – The Main Course of Social

For sales, building a lead pipeline, or for A/B testing of ads or promoted posts, engagement and clicks will give you the answers and actions you want to know about. Engagement includes:

-Shares
-Likes/Follows
-Comments
-Clicks

As mentioned previously, getting your information shared and seen by a larger audience is important. Monitoring shares and comments (which also result in others seeing your post), are a good target for a paid campaign. But someone actually liking or following you can also increase the number of people who see your post on a given platform. That means tracking all three isn’t a bad idea. But don’t get caught in the trap of only tracking one aspect. Be realistic about growing your follows and likes. Understand why you’re growing those numbers rather than just looking for the numbers to grow.

Social Media Examiner has some great steps to take to grow your audience without actually paying to do it. But keep in mind, it’s nice to set a goal to increase results in all three areas: Follows/likes, shares/comments and clicks. It can drive traffic to your website, assist with building a lead pipeline, and increase brand awareness.

Social media also boosts your chances of being found in a search.  Content marketing is all about sharing content on social media. LinkedIn posts, YouTube videos, and more are all valid content included as part of a search engine results page.

Have a Plan for Social Media

Building an actual calendar of content and setting up a regular schedule for social strategies is the best way to make certain you take full advantage of the platforms everyone is using. Even setting aside just 30 minutes a day to update various profiles with a status and shared or original content can bring your business’ social presence to life and encourage engagement.

Today people use social as a reference tool. Many turn to social media for the best deal on a mortgage, ideas for a family night out, or tips on paying college tuition and expenses. If your company’s page is inactive, or doesn’t exist, you are missing out on the chance to connect with someone in the Intent Stage of the buying cycle. They know they want a product or service, they’re looking for a provider, and they find (or don’t find) you. Be present as an active, approachable, and knowledgeable business, and you have a far better chance at connecting and building that new business connection.

Set Your Social Media Goals

Focus on follows/likes as a first step for measuring results with social. Check out your competition and set your sights a bit higher, but check to see how long they’ve been out there. Don’t expect to meet or beat your competitor’s 1,000 likes on Facebook when you’re just starting out. Especially if they’ve been out there for 5  years or more. For example, setting a goal of 1,000 likes in the first 6 months may be totally unrealistic. –unless you’re willing to pay for those likes. But give additional consideration to following that route. How probable is it that people who liked you based on a paid promotion are actually going to be interested in doing business with you? Isn’t that what this is about? Business? Don’t just go for popularity, go for a group of people with whom you can actually engage and interact.

Consider setting an initial goal of 50% or less of your competitor’s likesfor the first year. Remember, when you’re new you can call on employees, family, and businesses you know to grow likes. Then look to grow by 20% – 25% per year after that. You should monitor results and see what your actual experience is like. Then set stretch goals based on real numbers rather than a pie-in-the-sky number that doesn’t connect to reality.

Engagement Is Worth Tracking

Engagement is a challenging goal but a worthwhile one. Monitor your post types and see which get the best engagement. You will probably notice that videos are a automatic hit. Photos and posts on community events, and special interests also do well. Give some thought to how these types of posts can achieve more than just new likes and comments. What do you want out of your social presence? Set goals that measure growth in the direction you’re pursuing. Goals for goal sake don’t really do anything for you. But, if your senior management team only recognizes likes/follows, and you’re position with the competition, add them to the mix. Just keep in mind that the benefit of social is more than a popularity contest. Driving traffic to a website, growing leads, and spreading the word about your company has value for your bottom line.

 

Resources:

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

https://www.ffiec.gov/press/pr121113.htm

https://www.hubnami.com/blog-en/explaining-difference-between-impressions-and-reach

https://blog.kissmetrics.com/25-sneaky-online-tools/


Madeline Anderson-Balmer is Vice President and Director of Digital Marketing for McDougall + Duval Advertising. She 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. Need assistance proving the return on your marketing budget? She can help there, too. She’s also a great source for original content.

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