This series will provide tips on how financial services organizations, like banks and credit unions, can reach their target audience and start useful conversations on social media. First up, Facebook. With 1 billion users worldwide, Facebook is the 800-pound gorilla in social media; well worth having in your financial marketing plan. In this post, find out how to create compelling material that is both valuable and sharable to your audience.
How can banks and credit unions create engagement on Facebook? First, define “engagement.” Is it a like, a share or a comment? Or is it someone taking the next step past a Facebook post, becoming a lead and, ultimately, a client or customer? Second, create a content marketing strategy. A recent study shows that bank customers are bored by their bank's content on social media. So the challenge for banks isn’t just to engage customers, but to be compelling enough to keep their attention and provide some value to the bank's bottom line.
Successfully engaging on Facebook can be accomplished through both strategic and monetary means, including content strategy, images and driving traffic to your Facebook page from other channels. Let’s take a more in-depth look at some tried-and-true methods designed to help you engage with your customers and potential customers on Facebook.
1) Create content that solves problems - Ask your customer service department what questions they see most from customers and make it a Facebook feature. Where is the nearest branch? How do I order new checks? How do I apply for a mortgage? If you have an FAQ page on your website, re-purpose those questions on Facebook so customers have another option for answers to general questions. Other ideas include “How To” posts and financial tips.
2) Drive traffic to and from Facebook via other channels - Related to #1, you can easily integrate Facebook into every other digital platform you use, including your website, blog and mobile apps (more on mobile apps later). The new SEC guidance now allows financial organizations to invite people to like and connect on Facebook pages. Take this opportunity to invite your website and blog visitors to your Facebook page.
3) Timing is everything - Go to your Facebook Insights, click the Posts tab, and mouse-over the graph (seen below). This shows you what time of day most people are looking at your Facebook page. You can see that Gremlin Social's audience falls off drastically from around 3 p.m. - 7 p.m., so this wouldn’t be a good time to post. However, our audience peaks around 11 a.m., so that is when we’d want to post our most compelling material, post an offer or start an ad campaign. Alternatively, it could indicate that we should add more content between 3 p.m. - 7 p.m. Analyze the data based on how it fits into your overall marketing strategy.
4) Images Images Images - According to a study by SocialBaker, 93 percent of the most engaging posts on Facebook are photos. Whether you invest in a stock photo account, or have a graphic designer on staff, creating compelling images to showcase your content is an absolute must. Photos of staff and company events are especially well received. For example, a photo of the Gremlin Social staff outing to a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game received more likes and shares than other posts that week - and all without spending a dime.
5) Post frequently - but not too frequently - According to Kissmetrics, posting one or two times per day resulted in 40 percent higher user engagement compared to pages that had more than three posts per day. Keeping a constant stream of good content flowing on your page is even more important now that it is more challenging for brands to organically reach their audience on Facebook (see sidebar), so at least once a day is optimal. Which brings us to the final option,
6) Advertising - At the end of the day, there is also Facebook advertising. There are several options specifically geared toward the financial services industry, including Page Like ads, Promoted Posts and Mobile App Install Ads. Facebook allows you to create and customize an ad for your app, plus provides integration so you can track the number of installs your app receives. Additionally, Facebook is set to become an “e-money” service similar to Paypal that will allow users to store, pay and exchange money within the site.
Of course, there is only one way to know if these efforts are successful - tracking your campaigns. Check out our blog post Social Media Analytics: What, How, and When You Should Be Measuring to find out what metrics mean the most to the success of your business objectives. And be sure to watch for the second installment of this series, “How To Create Engagement: Twitter For Financial Services.”
Sidebar - 3 Things You Need to Know about Facebook’s News Feed Changes
In December 2013, Facebook announced that Pages would start seeing a “decline in organic reach” in an effort to reduce spam. The rumor, however, was that this was to drive businesses toward paid advertising. Whatever side of the debate you fell on, one thing was clear - weekly Facebook Page reach began to plummet, much to the chagrin of social media managers.
There have been several tweaks to these changes over the last year, and Facebook has recently announced more changes. In an April 10 Facebook newsroom post, the social network announced three types of posts that will be restricted due to Pages that “deliberately try and game News Feed to get more distribution than they normally would.” These include:
- Like-Baiting - The more a post is liked, shared or commented on, the more eyes are on your material. Facebook is now putting the kibosh on these types of posts, as their research shows that people find like-baiting posts, on average, 15 percent less relevant than others. However, they confirm that “this update will not impact Pages that are genuinely trying to encourage discussion among their fans, and focuses initially on Pages that frequently post explicitly asking for Likes, Comments and Shares.” It is still a good practice to encourage discussion of your posts, but explicitly asking for likes or shares should be avoided.
- Frequently Circulated Content - The new changes will place less emphasis on Pages that frequently share the same content (such as videos and images). Facebook says, “We’ve found that people tend to find these instances of repeated content less relevant, and are more likely to complain about the Pages that frequently post them.” So while sharing content is still generally a good practice, it should be on a ‘quality over quantity’ basis. The majority of your images and videos should be original content as much as possible.
- Spammy Links - The News Feed change also detects links that promise one thing (a white paper or blog post) and deliver another (advertising) in an effort to reduce spammy links. Your best bet here is to be transparent in your headlines and link to authoritative or original content.