By Don Sorensen
The banking industry has received tremendous scrutiny since the financial crisis, from skeptical consumers to negative press coverage and a punitive regulatory environment.
Larger banks often have the resources to withstand dents to their reputation. But when smaller, hometown banks have one negative article written about them, it can severely damage their reputation. What happens if a local newspaper writes an injurious article about a community bank? This piece will show on the first page of Google and may be shared on social media and other websites many times over.
It’s important to respond to a PR crisis like this immediately, and with an effective plan. But you also want to have the building blocks of a great online reputation already in place before a communication crisis. Here is the groundwork needed to have a solid online reputation as a bank.
Be active on social media.
Social media is often the first stop for consumers, the press and almost everyone else when learning about companies and brands. For a bank, the most important social media profiles are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube—with LinkedIn for business banking, networking and recruiting purposes. These platforms should be organized and managed through a detailed social media content calendar.
Twitter is a great medium for instantaneous connection with your audience and it feeds off of immediacy. Retweet when other people mention you and respond quickly to them. Live Twitter chats about relevant topics, often hosted in tandem with a guest influencer, are also a great way to spike engagement with your audience. Facebook helps you promote upcoming events, such as a user conference, that draws eyeballs and registrations. Instagram’s highly visual interface provides the perfect opportunity to host an array of beautiful images that encapsulate your business.
YouTube and LinkedIn may not seem as intuitive for a bank, but they are still critical to boosting or sustaining your online reputation. In addition to being a great place for business bankers to connect with business owners, LinkedIn is a prime location for drawing top talent. Encourage your staff to create full-bodied LinkedIn profiles, complete with their job responsibilities and experience at your bank, and ask them to comment on and share your bank’s LinkedIn posts. YouTube, on the other hand, is a great place to let the proverbial hair down and make finance fun. No one wants to watch a dry video about your banking services, so create content that consumers genuinely want to watch because of its entertainment value. Bank of America’s YouTube channel does a great job with this in its #FriendsAgain and Mobile Banking with The Llama videos.
Leverage content marketing.
Content marketing gives you a great bang for your buck for the work involved. Write a piece of content that reflects something good about your bank and tout it wherever you can. This piece of content could be a blog post, an op-ed in a third-party publication, your most popular white paper, etc. Create an editorial calendar around this copy and share the content on social media, to your email list, include it on your website, reference it in webinars, in seminars or in speeches. Essentially, you want your customers to encounter this piece of good news in whichever online medium they use to engage with you. You can also create a content amplification campaign for this article, blog post, white paper, etc. by using tools like Taboola and Outbrain to further widen the readership audience. Through these tactics, consumers will hopefully find your piece of content before they find any negative reviews or competitor information.
Needless to say, Google is the king of search. It’s becoming more and more essential to invest in Google ads to increase your website’s visibility when people search the name of your bank—or search banks in your area. With the web so crowded, it’s an imperative to put money behind your digital assets to make sure you reach your preferred audience. Running Google ads will get your website above the top organic results, which serves as a great way to guarantee customers find you fast.
Investing in social media ad campaigns is also part of a fundamental online marketing strategy. Static ads are best run for your target consumer audience on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and LinkedIn’s ad program is more for the professional audience seeking a new career opportunity. What’s more, consider paying for your best-performing videos to appear as ads on popular YouTube videos.
Use influencer marketing.
You can boast about your bank’s amazing products and services until you’re blue in the face, but many people seek a third-party endorsement. This is where influencer marketing can help you by transforming digital influencers into brand ambassadors. These influencers—who represent and identify with your target audience—can post to their following about your services, product launches, etc. to help further solidify your good reputation. For example, you could identify a millennial mom blogger to cultivate a relationship with—who would, in turn, connect you with that demographic. She could post about your bank’s new credit card on her popular Instagram account with a hashtag you’ve given her and a link to your website. Influencer marketing helps consumers see that your brand is trusted and used by someone they admire and reference for recommendations.
With all the brands on the vast internet vying for attention, it can prove difficult to set yourself apart. But these four strategies will guarantee that more potential customers learn about your bank and all of its offerings and help you secure a positive online reputation.
Don Sorensen is owner of Big Blue Robot, an online reputation management firm improving the online reputation of corporations, brands and executives.