OK, you’re ready to start using social media, so now what? First, you need to decide what you’re trying to accomplish. What do you want people to know? Are you hosting an event within the community? Do you have a new product? You can use social media platforms for these reasons and more.
The American Bankers Association 2017 Social Media Report ranks the top 10 reasons banks use social media.
1. Community engagement
2. Deepen existing customer relationships
3. Thought leadership/brand awareness
4. Send general alerts to customers
5. Attract new customers
6. Respond to customer service needs
7. Employee or potential employee engagement
8. Advertising depository products and services
9. Advertising investment services
10. Advertising trust and wealth management services
All of these reasons share an underlying theme – building and maintaining relationships. Your customers will be much more likely to advocate for you if they know and trust you.
Engaging with Your Community
The top reason banks use social media is community engagement. What exactly does this mean and why is it important? Community engagement can include anything from hosting a barbecue to volunteering at a fundraising event. By getting involved in community events and showing that you care about the same things your neighbors care about, you’ll project a positive image of your brand.
Enhancing Relationships with Customers
You’ve got customers, so you need to make sure you’re providing information they want. Make sure the content you post will be helpful to your customers – does it help them make investment decisions, learn about savings programs or lending options? Be mindful of that famous movie quote, though: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Don’t forget to mix a little fun into your posts on occasion. Just be sure your content educates and engages your customers – posts that come off as shameless self-promotion won’t help build lasting relationships.
Recruiting Qualified Employees
Social media can be a great tool to help recruit talent. For a minimal investment, a job posting has the potential to reach a wide audience and attract qualified candidates. If your social media posts project a positive image, highlight the company culture and show dedication to your community, they can be an asset when looking to hire top talent. CarrieAnne Cormier, vice president for retail operations and strategy at Avidia Bank in Hudson, Mass., explained a benefit to having a cohesive social media strategy and recruiting on social media. “We have actually had people who have reached out to us that want to work here because of what they have seen online,” said Cormier. That kind of passion in a potential employee can be priceless.
Attracting New Customers
You’re obviously in business to do business. Social media can be a great avenue for showcasing your products and services. Create events and social activities that can raise awareness about your brand. If possible, tie a promotion or contest to current events (think mannequin challenge, holidays, etc.). Look for opportunities to cross-promote your business with other local businesses through social media. This will provide yet another way to build relationships within your community and potentially reach an even greater audience.
Responding to Customer Service Needs
Some companies prefer not to engage on social media because they don’t want criticism or conflict. If they aren’t on social media, then no one can talk about them, right? Wrong. Whether you choose to engage on social media platforms has no bearing on what others may say about you, where they say it or to whom. Social media can be a great way to interact with your customers. The key is to be present and transparent. By addressing any concerns in a timely manner, you’re showing your customers that you’re listening and that you care about what they have to say. Jeff McCarthy, vice president of marketing at First Bank Financial Centre in Wisconsin, says to view negative online comments as opportunities. “Those negative posts can almost be more helpful than the positive ones, if you handle them correctly,” he said.
Incorporating Social Media into Your Marketing Mix
So how is your bank doing with its social media strategy? If you’re like the majority of banks surveyed by the ABA, you have some more work to do to implement a cohesive social media plan. The survey found that only 17 percent of respondents had a clear statement of goals they wanted to accomplish through social media and only 23 percent indicated the social media channels they used aligned with the target audience they’re trying to reach. And while 33 percent said they had a plan in place for how frequently they posted content, only 18 percent had a plan for what time of day they posted content.
Gremlin Social has compiled a handy guide to help get you started. Use the guide to generate some ideas for engaging with your community, building customer relationships, recruiting new talent, and addressing customer concerns.