Banking and Social Media: Oil vs Water?
Social media is a time consuming and complex beast. Different platforms punish you depending on your content and your frequency. It seems as if most platforms are geared towards improving the quality of content, but this only helps if a company stays very active with posting content. So now you have this complex multi-headed beast that needs constant attention and you try to shoehorn something as dry and universally indifferent as a bank in hopes of appealing to a younger crowd or a broader audience.
The Right Platforms
The main mistake made by amateur social media marketers is not all platforms work for your business model. Just as with different forms of marketing from TV, radio, social media, and PPC campaigns, you cannot rubber stamp each one onto a business model and expect to sit back and reap the rewards. What works for Facebook will not necessarily work for LinkedIn or Twitter. Each was created with an audience in mind and a specific purpose.
Reliable Sloth from Banks
Banks, in general, are slow to adopt new technologies. Social media networks have been around for awhile now but adoption is still slow. The learning curve and flexibility of real time sharing is a major uphill battle for banking policies to sign off on. Therefore, you see half-hearted attempts to appeal to customers and wonder why no one is engaged. The question is, is it even possible for a bank brand to appeal to an audience and build a true community and/or good engagement with customers?
The short answer is, yes, but unlikely. The cynical, realist inside me says when pigs fly and hell freezes over, they will find success. New, online banks, like SoFi, are accomplishing these platforms better but traditional banks are way behind. How do you even start to tackle such a mountainous job?
The bank must commit completely to the process. It must hire the right people, sit them down and turn them loose. Give them time to build out each platform and afterward, give them more time. There is no instant gratification with social media. It takes time and a great deal of work to build up communities, and while you get user crossover on different platforms, it is not something you can rely on to boost followers. Part of that commitment is understanding customers that engage are high in the bank’s customer acquisition funnel and it takes time to see the fruition. The commitment and continued commitment is the hardest discipline for a bank to maintain.
Not Any Ol’ Body Will Do
Banks need to hire the right social media marketers. Stay away from agencies and hire in-house if possible. Agencies put very little time and effort into marketing campaigns after the initial creation due to the sheer number of accounts they have to manage. They rely on automated system to manage much of the accounts. In the need for speed, content creation is weak and bank’s visibility are punished for it by social media platforms. When hiring in-house, pay for experience. This position is no longer an afterthought task of a glorified administrative assistant. The new hires must understand the different platforms, what their audiences are, how to reach them, structure campaigns per platform etc. You cannot just blanket post one image/post across all the platforms and think there will be success.
Hack and Slash the Red Tape
This is the hardest part for the bank. Social media is about garnering attention. Banking is a dry topic that most people do not care about on the day to day basis. To build engagement, the social media team needs the flexibility and creativity to be edgy, eye catching, aggressive, and engaging without fear that the big, bad bank will censor them. The overall task is hard enough because gaining followers for car enthusiasts and fashion wear is much easier than talking about lending and investments or deposits.
Uphill for Victory
Social media success is not impossible, but it is improbable. Big banks cannot help but get in their own way. Fifteen years ago, businesses put up websites because it was expected as part of their image. If you did not have a website, you were not a real business or you were ‘behind the times’. Social media accounts now are what websites were back then. It took years to start designing websites to really attract people and even now, there are millions of websites that look like they were built when websites were born. Social media accounts will continue to grow in importance and the world is finally starting to wake up to it. Banks, like many long-established institutions, will be last to the game. But, with their huge investment into online banking, now is the time to earmark a budget and make a splash into the social media world. Now is the opportunity to educate customers, introduce new customers, and promote all aspects of the online banking system they have built for their brand.