By Doug WilberSocial selling—the practice of employees sharing branded bank content with their social networks—is an incredibly cost-effective marketing tool when compared to traditional advertising efforts. Billboards, for instance, can cost up to $14,000 per month in larger cities, and advertisers can expect to pay a minimum of $5 per 1,000 views for a 30-second local TV commercial. On the other hand, social selling is essentially free. All you need to get started is an internet connection and an engaged workforce.
But social media marketing does come with some cost—though it might not always be in the form of dollars. Bank marketers and approval teams typically incur the cost of a social selling strategy from the time commitment it takes to create content. In addition, there could be risk-based costs if employee posts aren’t in line with regulatory compliance.
To make sure your social selling campaign’s return on investment is strong enough to make the risk and time expenses well worth it, you’ll want to keep an eye on a few factors. Ask yourself these three questions when judging your campaign’s success:
- What are you measuring?
Measurement is crucial to understanding the true ROI of your social selling strategy. Measuring results is just as important to shaping your social strategy as the content itself. In fact, one of the greatest benefits of social media is that it’s quick and easy to identify the definitive results of your efforts.
It might be tempting to evaluate the success of a program simply by looking at posts on a wall, but this misses key metrics. First, define what success looks like for your campaign. Then, regularly assess the reach and engagement numbers associated with each social selling post and commit to a measurement process and regular reporting schedule. Take things a step further by checking your analytics to determine how many traffic referrals you received from social media efforts.
- What does your audience engage with most?
As you measure the engagement on each post, implement a “test and learn” approach and deeply examine the social media content your employees share. Specifically, this will show you what types of content resonate most with your particular audience.
Keep track of comments, likes and shares on each post to see what your audience engages with and what they tend to ignore. You’ll likely find that people search for content that’s useful and entertaining rather than sales-y or specific to products and services. Additionally, keep in mind that audience tastes might change over time, so focus on testing and learning along the way.
- Do you have strong employee participation?
Energized employees are key to successful social selling. Think about the bank employees that already post branded content to their social media pages. How quickly do they respond and engage? If employees don’t participate and create a dialogue with their networks in a timely manner, the social content creation process won’t be worth the trouble.
If you find that employee participation could be stronger, consider how to make it easier for them to get involved. Create content, have your compliance and marketing teams preapprove it, and allow employees to share it with the click of a button. Following this process will lower any compliance risks while also making it easy for employees to participate.
Also, streamline the approval processes for comments and other engagement as much as possible. You might even incentivize employees to participate by setting small goals and celebrating milestones along the way. For instance, you might set a goal for each loan officer to post two pieces of branded content per week. If they don’t meet that goal, evaluate how you can make the process easier to work through.
Social selling is a relatively cheap and effective marketing strategy, but that doesn’t mean you have nothing to lose. Keeping track of the above three areas can help avoid the costs of risk, ensure that your investment of time and resources pay off for your financial institution, and help your social selling strategy reach its fullest potential.
Doug Wilber is the CEO of Gremlin Social, an integrated solution that combines social media marketing with ABA-endorsed compliance tools to make it easy for financial services companies to master the social media landscape and engage customers using social networks. Gremlin Social helps ensure safe use of social media communication while maximizing social marketing campaigns, guiding strategies, and monitoring returns on investment. Doug has worked in the fintech space for more than a decade and has experience working with Discover Financial Services, PYMNTS.com, and Assembly Payments, among others. He’s also advised a number of fintech-focused startups in the Greater St. Louis area.