By Jackie FedeliIn ABA’s 2019 State of Social Media in Banking, 40 percent of banks surveyed reported that their banks had been using social media for at least five years. An overwhelming majority (84 percent) of respondents strongly agreed that social media is important to their banks. If you understand that social media is important to your bank’s digital marketing strategy, but struggle with integrating it into your overall marketing plan, this guide is for you.
Start by deciding where to post
For bank marketers, the thought of managing every social media platform can seem overwhelming. But it’s ok if you don’t want to use every platform. Start out with the ones that will help you best reach your audience.
From my experience, Facebook and LinkedIn are the most preferred social media platforms. Facebook may be the preferred platform because it’s a “catch-all,” appealing to many ages and demographics. LinkedIn can help you reach business owners and decision-makers.
Five years ago, I would have said that Twitter was the next preferred platform for businesses that offer professional and financial services. Now, I see more small community banks preferring Instagram over Twitter.
YouTube and Pinterest are very underutilized by community banks. Both of these sites are searchable, and their content can appear in Google search results. Video traffic has been on the rise for years and is estimated to have accounted for 84 percent of internet traffic in 2021. Video production may not be in your budget, but if your financial institution has “how-to” videos on the website, consider creating a Youtube account to add those videos. Building out your profile and adding videos is an easy way to increase your search visibility.
Pinterest is also an easy way to boost your SEO efforts. While you may equate Pinterest with decorating tips and recipes, it’s also a great opportunity to share infographics. When properly done (with alt text), infographics can increase traffic to your website. Sharing your infographics to Pinterest can increase social shares, brand awareness, and traffic to your website. Create infographics from blog posts, or make stand-alone designs just for social media.
Pinterest is not only a tool to post your infographics. It can be a source of inspiration for creating your own infographics.
If part of your 2022 marketing strategy is gaining more Gen Z customers, you may want to consider TikTok. TikTok is the most popular social media platform for Gen Z. 60 percent of the platform’s 80 million monthly users are between the ages of 16 and 24. In 2021, TikTok surpassed Google as the most visited website. TikTok is not something bank marketers should continue to ignore, Not when digital banks are recruiting TikTokers to help launch their products. Step, a digital bank for teens, recruited a teenage TikTok influencer to help them launch their product. I have seen community banks using TikTok to share casual, fun and educational videos about their products and services. TikTok is a great opportunity to engage and educate the next generation about money management. And you don’t have to spend money to create high-quality videos.
Choosing what to post
Once you’ve decided which platforms you want to use, it’s time to think about what type of content you would like to post. Your posts should be a mix of promotional content and valuable/educational content. Don’t be that bank that uses social media to share one promotional post once a month. It’s ok to promote your rewards checking account, but you want to share other valuable content as well.
Valuable content can include blog posts (your blog and third-party content), community and government resources, educational graphics or infographics and safety tips. Take advantage of relevant holidays, especially financial related observances. This can include Teach Your Child to Save Day, Financial Literacy Month and Tax Day reminders. You can find a list of holidays and unique observances here.
Show your bank’s human side. Acknowledge staff anniversaries or promotions. Share photos and videos of events held at the bank. These are the posts that get the most likes. Employees will react to photos of themselves and their colleagues, and followers pay more attention to these as well. Sharing photos of your employees at community volunteer events may help build your financial brand as well. Your CRA team works hard to make sure your FI is supporting the communities in your assessment area. Share those efforts!
If you’re using Facebook and LinkedIn, share others’ posts, so followers can see that you value others’ content. If you’re using Twitter, retweet someone. Your purpose on social media is to engage with the community. You don’t want to appear too self-promoting. It is also worth noting that having a social media policy in place is a must-do. Among other things, it can define who can post on behalf of your organization, including the approval process for original and shared content.
What to post where
As mentioned above, Pinterest is great for infographics, and TikTok and Youtube are solid choices for your videos. All of the items discussed in the previous section are great for Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. There are some posts that you might want to share on Facebook but not LinkedIn. For example, we mentioned holidays and observances. It might be fun to post a cute graphic on Facebook acknowledging National Cupcake Day, but you might not want to share that on LinkedIn, as that platform is considered more of a professional destination.
Any images you share on Facebook can be posted on Instagram. Instagram may also be an option for infographics. Keep in mind that Instagram is primarily a mobile social media platform, so you will want to use graphics that are legible on a mobile device. It’s also a safe bet that any of your Facebook posts can go on Twitter as well. However, you may want to consider two to three tweets for your more important pieces. Posts have a shorter life on Twitter, so if you want your blog post to be seen, consider sharing it two to three times. Space these tweets out at least once per week.
Twitter isn’t the only place to reuse content. If you have written excellent blog posts and created engaging videos, you should absolutely use them more than once. Share your old blog posts on a regular basis. An old post about how to create a budget is a great tie into Financial Literacy Month. Break down large infographics into smaller “tips” that you can share on Instagram. Edit your videos to appeal to different audiences or fit different platforms. You can share your Youtube videos to Facebook and edit them for Instagram and TikTok. You can also share your TikTok videos on Instagram.
Create a calendar
The key to a smooth and effective social media strategy is a social media calendar. When you develop a calendar, you can ensure you have a nice mix of engaging and informative content, in addition to your promotional posts. You can space things out to avoid consistently posting on the same day of the week or time of day.
Create your calendar a month or more in advance. You can always add content as needed but aim to have a particular month’s content drafted and scheduled (if possible) by the end of the previous month. Create a reusable template that you can use each month and make notes for the coming months. A simple Word document will suffice. An added benefit of creating a calendar is that you’re not scrambling to get things approved by compliance at the last minute. If your marketing department is more collaborative, consider placing your calendar in the cloud, such as One Drive, Google Drive, etc.
Adopt a social media scheduling tool
If you’re not using one already, adopt a social media scheduling tool. This will allow you to schedule multiple posts at one time. Many tools will also allow you to engage in social listening. You can see engagements right from the tool, view your streams, and in some cases, competitors’ streams. Hootsuite is one of the most robust social media management tools out there. There is a free version available with limited capabilities. Other enterprise email marketing tools such as SEMRush and SharpSpring also have social media management scheduling capabilities.
There are a number of social media management tools on the market, so you can find one that meets your needs and your budget. Not all allow you to schedule TikTok. You can add Pendulum to Hootsuite to share and schedule TikTok videos. Other options for TikTok include Loomly, SocialPilot, Crowdfire and TikTok Scheduler.
Your compliance team may require you to include the necessary affiliates, such as the Member FDIC and Equal Housing Lender designations. If you know these will be required for every post, you may want to consider including these logos on whatever images you are posting. Work with compliance to come up with a list of what is required and when. Be proactive as much as you can, so your content will get approved more quickly. When you send your proposed posts to compliance in advance, you’re less likely to have something time-sensitive held up because you forgot to satisfy a compliance requirement.
If your bank has shareholders, you may be required to create a separate social media account to share investor information.
Hashtags started with Twitter, but are used all across social media. Using hashtags can help your posts be seen by someone who is looking for a specific topic, such as #mortgageloans, #budgeting, #financialwellness or #cybersecurityawarenessmonth. Research hashtags before you schedule and make sure they are relevant to your intended meaning. Acronyms may have different meanings and you wouldn’t want to accidentally associate your posts with something that could damage your brand.
Amplify your posts by mentioning or “tagging” other users. For example, if your bank partnered with the local ASPCA for a charity event, tag the ASPCA. You can do this on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. If you want to tag an employee, LinkedIn would be preferred over Facebook. Some staff members may not want their personal profiles easily accessible to bank customers and followers. That said, your tagging policy should be included in your overall social media policy because tagging does present reputational risk management questions. When in doubt, define it.
Make building your financial institution’s social media presence a key part of your 2022 marketing strategy!
Jackie Fedeli is a digital marketing strategist at BankBound.