Sparks from the Anvil


Social Media Best Practices for Banks

Posted by Megan Plis Knapp on 8/22/17 3:05 PM
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Social media best practices in the financial industry are tough because regulation becomes a real issue. Fortunately, there are some helpful platforms, such as Social Assurance, that assist in marketing automation (which is essential in 2017!) and ensure your social posts are compliant. Once you’re confident with the regulatory side, it’s all about value.

5 Questions for Social Media Best Practices

Who is your ideal client? Where are they online? What do they need? How can you provide it? Why will they care?

The most important advice I can give on social media best practices is to clearly outline each of these five questions, and don’t stray from it.

Where to Post

This is an undervalued topic and it’s perfect because it’s one of my 5 best practices questions. Where is your ideal client online? That’s where to post! If your ideal client isn’t on Twitter, don’t post on Twitter. If they’re on Facebook, post to Facebook - and consider spending some money boosting your posts so they get seen. Did you know as few as 1-2% of your Facebook fans will organically see your posts, unless they’ve changed their notification settings? Yep, that’s why if your ideal and current clients are on Facebook, you should consider boosting your post if you have an important message you want them to see.

How Often to Post

If you want to build a strong online presence, consistency is key. Remember, consumers are inundated with messages. In order to get in front of them with information you know they want, you have to feed it to them regularly and in a consistent format. This means posting to the same social platforms on a regular basis. The easiest way to do this is to have a content calendar and use a social marketing automation tool – preferably one that also checks for compliance. You can visually plan out your social media posts, ensure the content is valuable and targeted at the right audience, and maintain consistency. For example, at Plansmith, I post 3 times per day on each platform we’re on: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. I also spend time engaging, commenting, liking, retweeting, etc. But at least my audience knows without a shadow of a doubt they’ll hear from us daily – 3 times per day to be exact. And yes, it’s the same message across each platform. Unless you have very diverse audiences across each platform, I’d advise keeping it as simple as possible.

The other tip I have is to schedule out as far in advance as possible. Bankers are busy. If you can schedule your content calendar out 2-3 weeks in advance, you’ll be ready in case of vacations or other human disruptions. The marketing team needs time off, too! And thankfully, marketing automation provides this freedom.

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Who Posts, Budget & Employee Engagement

These are two different topics that I want to cover together. I’m all about getting the most bang for your buck and simplification. Budget is something every financial institution must take into consideration, and you’ll be happy to know I have some amazing ways to think outside of the social media budgeting box.

I’m the social media manager at Plansmith, and I post 99.97% of our social media. But not every institution can afford a fulltime social media manager. It’s important to maintain consistency of message, so a strong social media policy and strictness when it comes to posting is vital. However, no one ever said you need a 40-hour per week, classically trained marketer at the helm! One of my favorite tips on social marketing and banking comes from my college job as a CSR at a community bank. I was a business management student, and I already had about 6 years of marketing experience from doing social media for my dad’s businesses. That was when I realized the bank was missing out on a huge opportunity: leveraging my knowledge about social media. If you’re a bank or credit union that can’t afford someone fulltime, look to your current employees to see whose skills you aren’t tapping into. With a bit of training, a strong social media policy, and a few hours a week outside of their normal duties, you could have an amazing social media manager while helping an employee diversify and grow their career. The only stipulation I’d throw in is to provide adequate time for this side-function. If you want your 30-hr per week personal banker to also write one blog and post 10 times per week, you have to give them enough time, and hopefully a slight pay bump, to account for the job. Quality work takes time! If you give your employees a chance to grow from within, their brand loyalty will strengthen and only good will come.

You can also encourage all employees to post about your bank. Again, that’s where a strong social media policy comes into play, along with social media training. According to Jay Baer of Convince & Convert, 95% of millennials say their friends are the most credible source of product information. If you’re struggling to reach the millennial market and they fit your ideal client persona, digging into your treasure trove of millennial employees’ social media accounts is a smart and necessary move. Training is essential to ensure your employees know what they can post and what’s out of compliance. And as always, monitor, monitor, monitor!

Recruiting, Content & Maintaining a Presence

Remember when I talked about the different audiences the inundated consumer faces? Where does your institution fit in? If you’re doing social media right, you should be in the “marketing of things they actually care about” segment. This means attracting the right audience and building your tribe. Then, when you’re getting your message in front of the right people – your ideal client – they’ll welcome it and become a brand evangelist. It’s not rocket science, but it is behavioral science.

Recruiting is one of the most common ways I see financial institutions using social media. I think that’s great. It’s a cheap and useful way to attract talent, if you do it correctly. This is where building your tribe comes in. If you have a strong tribe of employees who are obsessed with your brand, they’ll plaster your recruiting message all over social. But, if they’re not a fan of your brand and feel stuck working there, they may still share it but not in a positive way (i.e. casual word of mouth to friends and family). So if you’re going to use social media to recruit, make sure your culture is on-point – which, quite obviously, is crucial either way! The other side of recruiting online can be more lighthearted. Consider adding a referral bonus if someone gets hired and lasts a while. Campaigns like this can increase engagement and organic reach, while showing how important smart hires are to your institution.

I’ll bridge this right into content, because recruitment posts are, believe it or not, a piece of content. Anything you post is a type of content. Whether it’s high or low quality content, it’s still content!

So, here’s a test for content strength:

Does it speak to your ideal client? Is it useful? Does it have value? Does it embody your brand? Does it have a potential outcome tied to a goal?

If your content fits all of these 5 criteria, you’re in good shape. Combine that with tremendous consistency, and you’ll be well on your way to maintaining a social media presence that actually gets your brand results.

What are results? What is success?

Stop thinking of social media success in terms of likes, follows and even shares. And please don’t run donate-for-likes campaigns. I’m all about giving back, but that is not a good way to go about it. Is your end goal to get famous on Twitter? Really? Probably not.

In order to find success, you have to define success. Success for each brand, just like each individual, is extremely personal. As an institution, you have to decide a very clear vision of what your goals for social media are, and make sure they’re in a measurable form. I’m sure you’ve heard of SMART goals – well, this is where they’re imperative. You can’t throw energy at random and expect insane results if you don’t even know what that looks like. It’s like vacuuming in the dark: you’ll miss all sorts of areas, and at some point you’ll hit a wall. Get clear on your objective, then take action to get you there. If you have big ambitions, it may mean speaking to an outside marketing strategist. Only your institution can set its limits for success.

Email Megan to learn more about social media strategy and how it relates to your bank or credit union.

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Tags: social media for community banks, social media, bank brand marketing, bank mission vision core values

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