Too many financial institutions come up to the conclusion that social media doesn’t work based on the fact that one or two of their social media initiatives didn’t enjoy “success”, which is mainly based on the number of followers on twitter or fans on facebook.
First of all, it is not just about volume but quality of the audiences, how active they are. Second of all, you must ask yourself how much exposure you gave to your initiatives. Don’t expect thousands of facebook users to join your page if they are not even aware of its existence.
So you plan to launch a contest on twitter or an application on facebook: the size of your audience will have a direct impact on the take up and the level of activity. Of course your content strategy (are you interesting, do you use the right syntax and call to action?) and your level of engagement with your audience will impact its success and the viral factor. But in this post, I will focus on promotion.
Don’t promote an online community too early like Fortis did with their then very innovative online community for European entrepreneursJoin2Grow.biz back in 2007. And don’t pay for it. If the concept is great and appealing, people will follow! There is another great example from American Express which launched one of the most successful facebook pages in financial services ever when their Small Business Saturday pagereached over 1 million fans in just a few weeks. Both the US entrepreneurs and the shoppers understood the value of the initiative and in this case the shoppers not only enjoyed the reward but they were happy to do something meaningful to support their local community.
To the contrary, the limited take up of the twitter contest launched by Egg Card (UK) at the end of 2010 was another proof of the challenge faced by brands.
20 Ways to Promote Your Social Media Activities
Please find below 20 (smart AND free) ways available to Financial Institutions to give more visibility to their social media activities. I identified 8 key categories from leveraging traditional marketing to tapping into mobile marketing.
1. Homepage: PEMCO Insurance
2. Content on site: Bank of America smallbusiness onlinecommunity
3. SM page on website: GEICO
4. Contact page: Wachovia
5. Website footer: Net Agence BNP Paribas
6. Newsroom: first direct social media newsroom
7. Online Banking – Logout page: American Express
11. Mobile Banking – Logout
12. SM cross promotion – design
13. SM cross promotion – posts / tweets
14. Branches – Windows: BBVA Compass
15. Branches – Leaflets
16. Online newswire
18. Press adverts
I personally believe every financial institution should have at least one official facebook page and twitter account, each with a critical size of fans and followers. Indeed, you should start by urging your employees, your digital agency, your business partners to join which should immediately give you a decent audience.
Please note that there are other creative ways to quickly increase the size of your fan base, such as the clever aggregation approach adopted by Citibank for the recent launch of its first official facebook page, Citibank US.
So before you come to the conclusion that facebook, twitter, or social media in general don’t work for your financial institutions, because of you didn’t manage to reach a critical size of audience, ask yourself a couple of questions first: “how appealing was our initiative?” and “how much visibility did we really give it?”.
I look forward to reading your comments on failed social media initiatives in financial services based essentially on the lack of promotion.