Most major financial institutions have finally jumped on the social media bandwagon, but their efforts vary wildly in their effectiveness.
Here are some tips from Corporate Insight, which tracked 90 financial firms on their social media practices, to get the most out of your social media strategy:
1. Communicate In a Manner Appropriate to Social Channel and Industry
The tone can vary from one social media network to another, and even from one account to another account within the same social network, says Alan Maginn, senior analyst at Corporate Insight.
“ For instance, informal, pithy comments may be appropriate for mascot accounts on Facebook and Twitter, but customer service Twitter accounts and blogs offering marketing commentary or financial insight should use a more formal tone to convey the seriousness of the issues being discussed,” he said.
The amount of messages you post is also important. Who hasn’t got annoyed by someone on Facebook inundating your newsfeed with updates? Twitter is an entirely different matter. No one is bothered if you update constantly.
2. Carefully Target And Tailor Your Social Media Campaign
Banks should consider targeting different groups of clients based on age, product or need, notes Maginn. For example, TIAA-CREF targets people nearing retirement with its MyRetirement.org community. Others use social media to target individuals interested in working with the firm or advisors who sell the firm’s products. “By isolating a subset of your broader audience, you can increase the value of the social interactions by enabling these individuals to share their experience with issues they share with their peers,” Maginn adds.
3. User Twitter To Help Angry Customers
Twitter is a great way to handle customer service issues, Maginn says. “Tech‐savvy consumers are increasingly looking to this channel as an alternative to phone‐based support as solutions are provided at the user’s convenience without dealing with extended phone trees and hold times.” Maginn suggests trying to solve issues in the public forum rather than privately. That way, “you may inadvertently help other users with similar problems, plus it demonstrates that your company is willing and able to deal with these problems online. “
4. Try To Provide the Information Users Want, Not the Information You Want to Deliver – And Be Entertaining
The biggest factor in the success or failure of any social strategy is content, Maginn points out. “Tactics such as advertising campaigns or contests can gain you new Facebook fans or increase the readership of your blog but if you don’t provide content your audience finds helpful, they’re not likely to remain your audience for very long.” The way to really stand out as a go‐to source for the type of information you provide is to deliver it in the most entertaining way possible, Maginn adds. Ideas for making dry, financial topics more interesting to your audience include using pictures and videos, and using current events and holidays to provide context to financial topics.
5. Integrate Social Tools into Your Website Design
There is no longer a clear distinction between social media websites and the rest of the Internet, Maginn notes. Companies should therefore incorporate social media features like ratings, comments and sharing links into their corporate website designs. This can help you determine what clients find helpful.
N.B. If you’re looking for inspiration, you should look at American Express, which Corporate Insight deems to currently have the best social media strategy in the financial industry. It has a proprietary community with videos, five Facebook accounts and three Twitter accounts. The firm also recently teamed up with Foursquare and Twitter to deliver targeted deals to its customers.