By Doug WilberThe effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been profound, reaching far beyond the spread of the virus itself. COVID-related layoffs disrupted the steady income of millions of Americans and caused unemployment to reach historic rates. Many families are facing tough financial questions they are not sure how to answer.
Unfortunately, financial literacy rates remain startlingly low. In a 2019 poll of 2,017 American adults, 10 percent said they were not confident in the last significant financial decision they made. When a 2020 survey asked over 1,000 American adults who they turn to for trusted financial advice, almost 25 percent said they had no one to turn to. Providing financial education has always been a core purpose of banks, but the financial fallout of the pandemic has made financial literacy even more important.
Financial professionals have an obligation to educate their customers, and with in-person meetings largely out of the question, social media is the most effective and safest way to do so. Luckily, social media-driven education already aligns with consumer preferences: Pew Research Center reports that more than half of U.S. adults get their news from social media, and a special coronavirus-related report from Edelman discovered that 84 percent of consumers expect to get reliable updates from the brands they follow on social.
Many banks are already capitalizing on this by using social media to connect with their customers and communities, but there’s still ample opportunity to provide financial education to current and prospective customers. Here are three tips:
1. Curate relevant and trustworthy news
Social media is flooded with misinformation and misleading data, and your audience members know this. To become a trusted source, be highly selective in choosing accurate, useful and relevant news to post on your branded social media pages. You can take several steps to ensure that the information you share comes from trusted sources before distributing it to your followers.
Established news organizations, such as CNBC and ABC News, seem easy enough to identify, but be wary of illegitimate sites trying to mimic them. The source’s domain and URL will help you identify whether the reference is credible. For instance, sites with URLs that end in “.com.co” might be cause for concern. If you’re still unsure, investigate the site further for more information. The “About” page should provide plenty of verifiable information about the organization’s staff and leadership team. If you’re still unsure, choose another source.
It’s also important to be aware of news bias and how it impacts your ability to build a healthy news diet that protects your brand reputation. Seek out resources (like this one) that help visualize where certain media outlets fall on the political spectrum. Armed with this information, you can help your bank’s brand avoid bias. You can also be sure you’re not resharing information that’s deceiving, one-sided, or untrustworthy.
2. Emphasize your team’s thought leadership
Credible news updates draw in social media users searching for financial news, but rather than simply sharing links, weave in original insights to make the information more digestible and jargon-free. Remember: Your employees are financial experts, so empower them to share their knowledge through a strong social selling strategy.
In doing so, you’ll not only educate your followers, but also humanize your brand and build trust with your audience. After all, people trust people more than brands, and research bears this out: Nearly three-fourths of social media users say they are more heavily persuaded by posts shared from employees rather than brand pages. Engage team members to share their knowledge in original content like blog posts, social media posts and short videos.
3. Be engaged
Social media is a two-way communication channel. A survey by The Manifest revealed that 74 percent of consumers follow brands on social media, and of that group, 96 percent said they directly interact with those brands. To make the most of your social media presence, your team needs to be engaged and respond to questions, comments and concerns in a timely manner. Stay connected with your followers and you’ll build stronger, more meaningful relationships within your community in the long term.
In the age of COVID-19, financial literacy has become an acute need. By using social media to educate current and prospective customers, banks can improve financial literacy, be a good steward for their customers and serve as a trusted source of information.
Doug Wilber is the CEO of Denim Social, a social media management software company that provides tools to empower marketers in regulated industries to manage organic social media content and paid social media advertising on one platform.