By Kailyn Gallagher
When it comes to personal social media accounts, most people understand what to post and how to present themselves.
For businesses, social media should be approached differently, especially when using multiple channels.
According to Ad Week, 74 percent of consumers rely on social media to influence their purchasing decisions and 47 percent of Americans said that Facebook is their primary influencer when making a purchase. With statistics like these, it is increasingly essential that businesses, including financial institutions, use social media. It can be used to raise brand awareness, promote products and maintain online accessibility.
One of the most common obstacles that businesses encounter as they get started on social media is deciding how to use it effectively and efficiently. Simply having an online presence is not enough; having relevant posts for customers to engage with is essential. In addition, when using multiple social sites, the branding and messaging needs to be consistent across all platforms to reduce any brand confusion or miscommunication.
Here are some of the distinct differences between using social media for personal use and business use. Take note of the following do’s and don’ts when evaluating your business’s presence on social media:
- Don’t use a different icon for each social site.
- Do make sure branding is consistent across all platforms by using logos, colors and themes that reflect your business.
Profile photos across different personal social accounts can vary because ultimately the face of the individual is consistent, even if their outfit choice or hairstyle is not. For companies, logos are essentially their “face” and are necessary for users to find and recognize a company.
The photo that appears when a company is searched should be its logo, and it should maintain a consistent look across all platforms. In addition to the logo, all artwork that is associated with the business’s profile should convey a theme that seamlessly flows from one platform to the next.
- Don’t post anything about what you ate for dinner or the random happenstance that occurred on the way to work.
- Do consistently share information about new products and promotions, company and community events and milestones.
When it comes to content, topics should be of interest to the relevant audience—customers and potential customers. Posts should make followers feel included and convince those who are not yet connected that there is a reason to follow the bank online.
Posts should make followers aware of new products, or highlight community and bank events. It is also notable that 90 percent of people say they follow businesses on Twitter for discounts and promotions, so any promotional offerings should be considered prime social media content.
People connect to others through their personal social media accounts simply because they know them. If a personal account is not actively posting content, there is no consequence. Adversely, a business that is not actively posting and engaging with its audience is going to lose followers or risk looking abandoned.
Since consumers rely on social media to influence their buying choices, a business that is quiet on social media has limited influence online, and banks are no exception to this.
- Don’t share irrelevant photos or videos for entertainment purposes, especially if it takes away from your branding goals (i.e., dog videos or personality quizzes).
- Do supplement posts with photos or videos that are relevant and help solidify the feeling your brand wants associated with it.
Posts with photos, videos or links are shared for entertainment purposes on personal social accounts, and they can be as random as one wishes. This content serves minimal purpose other than to share moments or laughs among friends and followers.
Banks using social media are encouraged to make their followers feel a personal connection with the company, but content must always point back to overall business objectives.
Social media is an environment where personality can shine through by using a recognizable voice and sharing a certain flavor of content. Fun and share-worthy content is welcome, but banks need to know the time and place to share it, and most importantly in what manner.
While individuals are increasingly being judged on their social media presence, personal accounts still have more liberty to participate in trending conversations that may not appeal to everyone. Banks, and businesses in general, need to take a step back and look at trends and hot topics objectively before jumping on a bandwagon that is headed in the wrong direction. If it doesn’t support the bank’s brand or the persona portrayed on social media, it is best to refrain from joining in.
Social media allows individuals to stay connected to whomever and whatever they want, at all times. This opens up an opportunity that all businesses should seize to increase their online visibility and gain new customers.
However, before that can happen it is essential to understand the differentiating factors between personal and business accounts. Banks that take the time to learn how to effectively represent their brand, target the desired audience and create relevant content will thrive on social sites.
Kailyn Gallagher is a media planner at Pannos Marketing, based in Bedford, N.H. The company is a 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.