Relationships are the foundation of business. But for banks and credit unions, forming meaningful relationships is becoming more difficult as people often bypass branches in favor of online and mobile banking. Data show that in 2015, for the first time ever, mobile users outpaced branch users, according to the Wall Street Journal. But there are banks and credit unions that are successfully forming relationships and creating a sense of community via engagement on social media.
So what’s the secret sauce in leveraging social channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram, as well as website blogs? It’s a content marketing strategy that encompasses critical action items such as developing original, useful content that encourages conversation; using social platforms to connect through shared interests; and dedicating time to respond quickly to comments and questions that result from that content.
Create useful content
As a credit union or bank marketing manager, no one else knows your members or customers like you do. Put that knowledge to work by publishing original and useful content on your social channels. Social platforms are excellent places for content that answers questions about finance, provides guidance on budgeting, and delivers insight about the entrepreneurial process or local business trends that affect small businesses in your community. And feel confident about suggesting products and services that align with that content – just don’t make every post a sales pitch.
How do you build relationships with bank customers or credit union members, when fewer of them are coming into your branches? Take a proactive approach to social media. Create useful and interesting content, connect via shared commitments and authentically engage in and respond to the resulting online conversations.
Original, useful content works to drive conversation and increase engagement: Fully 63 percent of mass affluent consumers take action after using social media to learn about financial products and services, according to a study by LinkedIn.
Connect through shared commitments
All the content you post doesn’t need to be about finance and banking. Social channels are perfect venues for people to connect through shared interests. Use your social media platforms to align your credit union or bank with a cause or causes that resonate in your community. Show how your brand goes beyond banking and start posting about how you and your employees are involved in the neighborhoods you serve. Promote events that you sponsor. Publish photos of your employees engaged in community service activities. Post stories about how local residents have benefited from a community service. You’ll find that when you engage your audience in causes they are already interested in, you more effectively humanize your brand and develop community.
Engage and respond
Your social media strategy shouldn’t be all about getting something published. Instead, the content you publish should be crafted in such a way as to encourage response. How do you get people to respond? It’s like any person-to-person conversation: Ask for action. For example, a blog post about retirement planning tips and a short story about how a customer or member is reinventing retirement could ask readers to submit their own retirement reinvention stories. You could post to Facebook or LinkedIn about a branch job opening and ask fans to share. And you could host a “caption this” photo contest on Instagram with public recognition of the cleverest responses.
No matter the social channels you choose to use to engage with members or customers, responding promptly is critical. You need someone or a team of people to monitor all your social channels in order to respond quickly to inquiries or comments. In addition, be sure those of your staff who are responsible for responding understand the importance of quality responses. People who comment look for acknowledgement, so never go the route of a canned response. Use the name of the person who comments and bring new content to the conversation, like a link or a video. Responding promptly to customer stories, ideas or complaints deepens relationships. This is the human side of social media and the foundation for creating community.
Social platforms present an excellent opportunity for banks and credit unions to establish and maintain relationships with community members in an age when more and more people are managing their banking outside of branches. The key to success in using social media as part of your content marketing strategy is to make sure those communications are authentic and relevant. When your blogs, posts and videos meet that criteria, you’ll see a jump in engagement through likes, shares and comments. That kind of relationship-building will improve your marketing effectiveness and increase leads and sales conversions.