This article was originally published to ABA Banking Journal.
Social media is constantly changing—and consumers’ online communication preferences are changing just as rapidly. By now, most banks know that developing and implementing a social strategy is a business imperative, but that strategy also needs to evolve alongside the social and consumer landscape.
At the same time, rushing to conform to every social media trend is never a good idea—especially for banks. If financial institutions don’t handle online communication correctly, they could face major compliance penalties. As you think about your marketing strategy for 2020 and beyond, consider these three big social media trends and how to incorporate them into your social strategy the right way.
- Consumers increasingly favor direct messaging.
According to Adweek, 68 percent of consumers recently reported the most convenient way for them to contact businesses was through direct messaging. Social media takes interacting with customers to a whole new level, but direct messaging takes it even further. Meant specifically for one-on-one communication, this method is all about listening to your customers and communicating with them on their terms.
Because it’s so personal, direct messaging can also be a compliance pitfall for banks that don’t have a solid plan. The FFIEC requires banks to have a social media policy that guides usage; this needs to account for direct messages, too.
Before they engage with customers through direct messages, employees should be properly trained on:
- Approved messaging for responding to common questions
- Proper protocol for addressing more nuanced questions
- Security policies for when consumers share personal information
- Any other compliance concerns
- Social media is an institution’s front door.
Imagine if, instead of bringing customers to your front door, you could bring your front door to your customers. With social media, you can. According to trend reports, up to 58 percent of customers visit a brand’s social media pages before its website—that’s an 81 percent increase over last year. Because consumers are increasingly heading to social media, you have to meet them there.
According to the ABA, 87 percent of banks are actively engaged on social media. Just as you would invest in your bank’s physical appearance, you need to support your bank’s digital appearance, too. Social media is the front door of your institution, so you need to roll out the welcome wagon. Think of your employees as your front-door greeters and arm them with compliance-friendly social collateral to share with visitors.
- Employees will be the face of business.
Being active and engaged on social media is the best way to build bridges to your customers these days. However, it doesn’t automatically generate the customer trust that financial institutions need. But when you put your employees front and center, you can change that.
Studies show that branded content shared by employees is re-shared an average of 24 times more than content shared directly by brands, and it reaches up to 561 percent more people. Give employees the power to be the face of your institution and allow them to build trust through personal engagement with customers.
To ensure your employees stay compliant when sharing on behalf of the brand, it’s a good idea to have a library of preapproved content that they can pick and choose from. Have your marketing team develop content around your customers’ specific needs and pain points. Then, make sure the appropriate leadership and compliance teams approve that content. Finally, house the content in a centralized location so employees have easy access.
Current social media trends—especially those between customers and businesses—point to a much more connected future, and we’re already seeing what it’ll take to meet customers’ expectations in the upcoming year. Starting now will give you a greater chance of evolving your social media strategy without compromising compliance.