Annoying, Boring and Unhelpful

Almost every banker we meet with asks us about the value of social media – how to make it more effective or whether they should start a Facebook or LinkedIn page to solve some of their marketing challenges.  Great questions given a recent survey by the Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting Group that found that 87% of consumers surveyed described banks’ use of social media as “annoying, boring and unhelpful.”  Probably why only 7% of those surveyed actually followed their banks.

As a reminder, social media was built on the foundation of attracting and engaging readers and providing information they would share – it was not developed for direct selling of a product or service. The key to engagement is to demonstrate you have common interests, understand your audience’s issues and challenges and offer relevant solutions that you may or may not be able to provide.
Here are my thoughts on LinkedIn and Facebook, given current consumer perceptions of financial institutions’ use of social media, and low engagement rates.
Although most bankers see the value of LinkedIn, they tend to underutilize this social media tool and are not willing to invest their time to be proactive on this site.  Bankers who find value in LinkedIn use it to expand their networks, gain introductions, stay top of mind with their connections, research prospects and stay on top of clients’ activities.  Prospects who are active LinkedIn users will likely review a banker’s profile during the prospecting period so make sure it appropriately represents the bank as well as the banker and works within your brand.
Facebook is also top of mind with many bankers and clearly a social channel with a challenge when it comes time to evaluate its value to an institution.  Seems like every article you read speaks of engagement as the critical success factor, yet engagement rates of the top banks are fairly insignificant – and we’re pretty certain they have many resources decked against these efforts. 
According to the same survey, 83% of the 7% following banks on social media follow them on Facebook.  This is what they’re finding:
* Product promotions and launches
* Employee volunteer activities
* Community events, sponsorships and support
* Advice for small businesses
* Financial advice for consumers
* Bank news, holiday and hour changes
* Happy Holiday messages (ex. Earth Day)
If this is how you’re using Facebook – are these communication efforts driving growth? And now that video is becoming more common – how will you integrate that approach to engage your followers?  Do you have the resources to do this well?
Challenges also occur when a customer airs their complaint in this very public forum.  Most institutions tend to reply with a comment like this: 
“We are always interested in hearing feedback from our customers. We would like to find out more about this situation and see if we can provide assistance. Please visit us or call xxx-xxxx. Thank you.”
You can see why this might not be the best approach, but many banks use this forum to gather feedback and determine global issues that need to be addressed.
So should you continue to pour resources into your Facebook site?  Only if you have a clear strategy and are willing to deck the skilled resources to keep it active, relevant and interesting. 
If you’re thinking now might be the right time to remove your Facebook presence – don’t just close down your page.  Check out the pitfalls and advice as noted in this article.
My advice if you don’t have a Facebook presence yet?  You probably have bigger fish to fry if your marketing resources are stretched. Execute the higher priority projects first and jump in when you have a well thought out plan and the right folks to implement it. Of course, like all dynamic trends, there may be reason to jump in when this becomes a more meaningful channel for financial institutions.  
How are you using Facebook and LinkedIn and are you getting the results you want?


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2 Responses to Annoying, Boring and Unhelpful
  1. Edwin Holt
    July 9, 2014 | 7:15 pm

    The two biggest challenges with financial institutions using any social media outlets are simply who they put in the driver’s seat to execute a campaign (I use that term loosely) and compliance.

    The bigger of the two is “who” they have driving creative and that, from my perspective, is where banks fail.

    We are all bombarded by so much as it is that whatever you’re posting better be worth my time to view it. And the more creative and thoughtful the campaign, then the more I am inclined to file it in my own little mental box of brands I think about.

    Yes video is great but again, what kind of creative delivers a message that will stick? What is going to make your bank THE bank that I talk about around the water cooler. Or send the link to friends that makes me feel like a actually have ownership in the piece itself?

    Making an impact and instilling a brand that lives forever means great creative. Which means making sure you have the proper talent in any professional space.

    Think of this this way. Would you want your assistant’s daughter to run around town pitching commercial loans? Well if she’s running your social media, that’s exactly what you’re doing.

    • loconnell
      July 9, 2014 | 7:57 pm

      Thanks Edwin – great point!

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