The promise of genuine engagement with customers through social media is drawing the attention of traditional businesses, like banks. Many large operations, like Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase, have had Facebook pages and Twitter feeds for a few years now. However, their use of social media platforms has grown in recent years to include memes, unique content, and customer service elements.
How Banks Should Operate on Social Media
Banking is a traditional industry. Like many traditional industries, banks were slow to adopt social media and other Internet technologies. As more people joined social media platforms, businesses of all types were forced to participate in one form or another. Any business with a sizeable customer base (which is to say, most banks) will find social media to be a useful tool for engaging current and potential customers.
Understand Your Relationship with Your Customers
The relationship a bank has with its customers is very important to eventual social media use. Larger banking operations might have a complicated relationship with their customer base. According to a 2015 survey by FIS and reported by CNBC, less than 23 percent of Americans are happy with their banks. Information from J.D. Power and Associates shows that the highest level of satisfaction comes from regional or local banks. Clearly some banking operations have a bit of work to do to improve this relationship.
Banks that field large numbers of customer complaints should be prepared for new complaints over social media. Because social media is a public platform, customers will post about their negative experiences. This is an opportunity for banks to directly engage with upset customers to address their problems in a meaningful way. Banks also have the option to make this process public so that other customers can see how and why certain issues are resolved.
Offer Content that Interests Your Customers
High quality content is the primary key to social media success. To produce this content, banks often take their own unique approach. Some will leave social media posts to interns under the guidance of one or two paid marketing professionals. Others will have their own social media teams that employ graphic designers, writers, and computer programmers. Each approach has its own merits and every bank should operate its social media within its abilities.
The specific nature of content a bank posts on its social media channels should vary depending on purpose. Promotional posts for online web seminars or a new type of checking account can attract great attention, even from people that are not customers of that bank. Of course, social media posts should expand beyond marketing and promotion. It is incredibly common for corporations of all types to post viral content or memes. One of the more prominent examples is Bank of America who recently partnered with established YouTube chef Byron Talbott. These simple posts cover cooking basics while promoting new and existing Bank of America products. This approach has proven to be fairly popular with single posts featuring the chef garnering more than a million views.
Be Responsive to Customers
Social media is responsive and quick to change. A content trend that is popular today can potentially alienate social media users tomorrow. Viral video concepts, like the Harlem Shake or Lip Dubs, were popular ways for companies to gather interest online. However, in 2016, a YouTube video of bank tellers in a Harlem Shake video will not only fail to attract attention but might also result in a weakening of social media channels, including lost followers and likes.
Because of the rapid nature of social media, monitoring active channels will be vital to long term success. If a customer complains on a post but doesn’t receive a response for days, other visitors to that channel might respond. This allows others to enter the conversation with that customer, which could potentially weaken their relationship with a bank. The safest course of action for a bank would be to avoid social media but customers expect their institutions to be available on popular platforms, including Facebook and Twitter with other becoming more popular every day.
Sarah Blanchard is a Texas-based author and speaker that concentrates on the merchant payments processing and finance industries.