By Augusta Rice
Social media can open new doors allowing businesses and brands to connect with consumers like never before. By now, many financial institutions have accepted social media as a vital component of their marketing strategy and have taken steps to establish an online presence. Ideally, this includes the development of a consistent voice to carry the bank’s message and a content strategy to accurately convey the purpose of the social channel.
The logical next step is to enhance this presence by driving engagement. Engagement is the social aspect of social media, in which people communicate with and actively listen to your brand. Many businesses focus solely on extending their social reach by gaining followers and fans. Whether your bank has an existing presence or is embarking on its first foray into the world of comments, likes and shares, the greatest assets to your bank’s social success can be found right under your roof. Employees are already engaged and informed about product offerings and services and, given the right tools and training, can become your best brand ambassadors.
Employees can share content and spread awareness to otherwise untapped audiences and potential customers who are more likely to read and engage with content when recommended or shared by people they know. What’s more, your employees’ followers and friends could align with your target audience. Think about it: as of 2014, the average bank employee is 41 years old. Conveniently, the 35-to-54 crowd is Facebook’s most active user base, boasting 56 million members. As the average 41-year-old has approximately 140 Facebook friends, leveraging these social connections could lead to significant gains in brand recognition and hundreds of new connections.
Make staff aware of the bank’s social media
The merits associated with socially connected employees are obvious, but encouraging staff to take an active role on social media as a brand ambassador may not be as apparent. The first step is to make employees aware of the bank’s social and digital efforts. A staff meeting or internal memo can educate employees about new or existing social accounts, the bank’s digital marketing and the effect that their participation can have on the bank’s inbound marketing efforts. Make staff aware of all existing social accounts associated with the bank and encourage them to become fans or follow each page. It may seem trivial, but the more fans or followers a page has, the more legitimate the organization seems. Every “like” counts when establishing a trusted social presence.
Next, provide a social media employee protocol to help employees understand appropriate uses for social media, particularly in conjunction with the bank’s digital endeavors. Providing easy-to-understand guidelines can prevent any unnecessary social mishaps and encourage a positive outcome. Specific examples of do’s and don’ts will help illustrate your points and may prove invaluable as you work to communicate a social policy. However, keeping the tone upbeat and emphasizing the fun aspects of social networks are essential to convincing employees to hop on the social media bandwagon.
One of the biggest hindrances to successful employee engagement on social media is a lack of knowledge of the platforms and a disinterest in learning it independently. Your employees are busy; make it easy by providing the necessary training for proper social media usage prior to leveraging your employee’s connections. Create tip sheets, hold brief writing workshops and encourage shares of company social media messages in companywide emails.
The last, and possibly most important step, is to keep it fun. Enthusiasm is contagious, and it will be obvious to social connections when employees are enjoying the process. Generate excitement by incentivizing certain tasks. Give out monthly prizes to the employee who prompts the most post shares, or to the person with the most creative tweet of the month. Facilitate interdepartmental challenges or create social teams composed of members across departments and offer rewards, like catered lunches, to the winning team.
It is vital to the bank’s social presence that employees engage, help create and curate content, and support the digital endeavors of the bank. This process doesn’t need to be intimidating, and even the smallest employee efforts can make a measurable difference to the success of the bank’s social accounts. Look at this process as an opportunity, rather than a challenge. Taking the time to get the whole team on board is an investment that will pay dividends in the long run.
Social Media Brand Ambassador Do’s and Don’ts
DO know the difference between personal and professional posts.
DON’T advise clients and customers via social media.
DO Put a disclaimer on personal pages to protect the bank.
DON’T Use personal social media sites during business hours.
Augusta Rice is an interactive media account executive at Pannos Marketing based in Bedford, N.H. Pannos Marketing is full service communications firm specializing in strategic marketing, public relations, social media, e-commerce and website solutions for financial institutions. Email: [email protected].
Online training in digital, mobile and social media from ABA.