By Doug Wilber
As the COVID-19 pandemic turns life upside down for all Americans, banks are moving quickly to reconfigure services, shift employee work arrangements and upturn their marketing strategies. While banks will remain open as essential services, they are likely to see a dramatic drop in branch, visits and many are taking drastic measures to protect their customers, employees and communities. As we all do our part to slow the coronavirus with social distancing, social media has become more important than ever for banks.
Social media is an important tool to help banks serve their customers in the short-term and build deeper connections with their communities in the long-term. The right social media moves now are critical to maintaining customer loyalty and brand health.
Every bank marketer should consider these five social media actions:
Limit scheduling of posts. It has become common practice—and often a needed efficiency—to schedule social media posts in advance. But in a rapidly changing news environment and crisis, this should be avoided. A previously scheduled promotional post could appear tone-deaf or inappropriate. For instance, a success story about your bank’s support for a local small business could be viewed as grim in current circumstances. Stay in the present as you navigate this situation.
Emphasize human relationships. As we rapidly become more socially distant, maintaining connections to one another has become much more important. So many banks thrive on in-person relationships with local customers and small businesses. You certainly shouldn’t be shaking hands, but you should absolutely be caring. Use social media to reach out to your most valued customers and offer reassurance. Let them know you’re there with proactive posts. Ensure your team is prepared to engage with customer posts and comments more quickly than ever. Direct messaging will likely prove to be an invaluable tool during this time, too.
Help your customers understand what’s happening in the markets. The dramatic downturn in the stock markets has investors reeling, but many of your customers are likely also feeling confused and afraid. Social media is an opportunity for your bank to serve as a trusted and helpful source of information. Help your customers understand what the market downturn means to them via social posts. Explain what the news from Wall Street means for main street.
Maintain a clear line of communication. As doors are closed and inboxes are flooded, your bank should use social media to share vital bank information with your customers. If your bank is limiting customer access to in-branch staff or activating social distancing measures—such as drive-up service only—it’s important to tell your customers what’s going on. Take the opportunity to proactively post about what you’re doing to protect their health.
Monitor your brand’s social media voices. In a time of uncertainty, your customers are looking for leadership. Clear messages delivered by a singular leader can build trust on social media. Other team members have important roles to play in amplification through sharing, but keep a watchful eye on their posts. One rogue post by a financial adviser or loan officer could do long-term damage. As the situation evolves there will likely be a role for other voices.
There are so many unknowns right now, but we know that social media will play an important role in maintaining connections in business and our relationships. Banks should act immediately to ensure their social media strategies are updated, actively managed and supportive of customer needs, both in the short and long-term.
Be well, stay home and don’t forget to wash your hands!
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.