I feel comfortable making the assumptive statement that the majority of businesses are using Facebook to promote their brand, along with other social media channels. However, financial institutions are in an interesting position regarding social media, and are subject to additional regulations by the government that regular businesses don’t have to worry about.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) regulate banks and other financial institutions, and this regulation also extends to their social media marketing efforts. Although many people will flock to big banks such as Chase or Bank of America, smaller banks and credit unions can also make use of Facebook to engage with their customers and acquire new ones as well.
Leveling The Playing Field
Social media has leveled the playing field for many businesses, and financial institutions are no exception. Although they are also subject to the same regulations mentioned above, social media gives them the chance to shine when it comes to customer service, and, in a sense, compete with bigger, more powerful institutions. Smaller financial institutions have fewer customers, which gives them the liberty to establish a bigger role within their community without sacrificing anything regarding customer service. Handling customer service inquiries is reactive and is the main function of any financial firm. Smaller institutions have the freedom to be more proactive and reach out to customers by understanding their financial wants and needs via social media.
Helping Your Most Vulnerable Customers
Facebook has introduced a new feature, Custom Audiences, so you can engage demographics that you would like to target in your marketing campaign. These smaller institutions can craft content directed at certain customers—for example, those below the age of 30. Financial responsibility is very important for younger customers who are setting out for the first time. 35% of these people are still receiving financial aid from their parents, which makes the under-30 crowd an essential market for smaller financial firms to reach out to, and hopefully, establish a lifelong relationship with.
How Does It Work?
Like most other small businesses, the rules for small financial firms regarding social media (aside from the additional government regulations mentioned) stay the same. Your firm will need a landing page that will generate clicks—that means nothing super fancy, overwhelming or difficult to use for the consumer, and easy access to the quality content that it is hosting.
Your social media campaigns should also be timed around holidays. Christmas is just around the corner, so having a holiday-themed promotion is essential. This will generate clicks and generate goodwill with your customers. One suggestion is to center these campaigns around helping customers save money or even giving away money (one suggestion involves giving out small amounts of free cash). Cash is generally tight around the holidays, as many people are buying Christmas gifts for their friends and family.
Not only is timing and the quality of your content key, but also how often you post and push your promotions. Not enough posting will leave your brand forgotten by consumers, while too much can annoy your customers (and potential customers as well) and may be associated with spam. Striking the right balance between the two—leaving it as a thought in your audience’s head, while not making it every thought in your customer’s head—will lead your small financial firm to gain the social media presence it needs to compete with the bigger and more established banks.
Your Firm On Their Minds
You don’t need to spend millions on an ad campaign to get yourself noticed. With social media, all you need to do is establish a Facebook page and engage with your followers. Even though financial firms have additional regulations put upon them by the government, the rest of your marketing efforts should remain the same—answer customer inquiries while (pro)actively engaging them, finding out their wants and needs. Facebook even has a built-in analytics tool you can use to find out what’s working and what’s not, so you can adjust your campaign as time goes along. With social media expertise at your fingertips, you can hold your own against the bigger and more established names in the financial industry.
Learn more about social media marketing with Facebook.
Dave Landry – Personal Finance Manager