Is Facebook Right for your Financial Institution?

Social media is one of the most frequently requested topics for me to write about so here are my thoughts about Facebook and financial institutions, with more social media articles to come. A version of this article was published last month in the Banker’s Bank of the West newsletter.

If you follow social media experts, you’ll hear that financial institutions must have a Facebook page to engage with customers. You’ll also hear the exact opposite – you don’t need to be there, it’s not worth the time, energy, potential risk or resources. If you’re on the fence or evaluating your current efforts, here are some things to think about as you explore this interesting and often-times confusing channel.

The first thing to think about is your Facebook strategy.

  1. What do you want to accomplish by having a Facebook page? For example, are you hoping it will help you save money, make money, retain customers, get new customers, communicate what makes you special, or build a community forum?
  2. How you will measure your results – how will you know if you’re happy? Is that even possible to do?
  3. Who do you want to focus your communications to – your business customers, retail customers, both? Facebook is the tool for businesses that want to engage with consumers. Although Facebook promotes company pages, there are resources such as LinkedIn that provide better opportunities to speak to businesses about business matters.
  4. How will you engage folks to follow, like or comment on your site? Engagement from the people who like you is the key to getting more from your posts – it’s the quality, not quantity of “likes” that help in this forum.
  5. What will your key brand message be – the one you’ll carry through every communication, visual and page design?
  6. How will you fill your page with interesting and relevant information – what topics are appropriate? Updates on people and community support may not be enough. Plan ahead so you don’t get stale and ultimately ignored.
  7. How will you use the feedback you’ll receive from your readers? Done correctly, Facebook can provide a wealth of information on how to improve your overall service, products and even Facebook strategy. 

The second thing to think about is how you’ll manage your Facebook presence.

  1. How will you make sure all communications meet regulatory, as well as Facebook requirements? Both are evolving and you’ll need to stay on top of any changes to limit exposure.
  2. Companies with high employee engagement have much higher customer engagement – do you have a social media policy for your staff?
  3. How will you keep this channel top of mind with your management team so it stays relevant and any feedback gathered to improve service, etc., is directed to the right person? 

And finally, how will you launch or promote your site? Although there’s a bit of a “build it and they will come” component it probably won’t drive enough interest to make your effort worthwhile. For example, Facebook has recently changed their proprietary algorithm which determines who sees what in your news feeds. The strongest driver of distribution is engagement in your site – so comments and shares – not how many posts you make or “likes” you’ve accumulated. They are also selling “Promoted Posts,” which allows a business to pay to have their content seen. It’s getting more and more complicated and someone needs to be on top of these changes.

The reality is, like ATM’s and mobile banking, Facebook is here to stay. It’s just a matter of determining if it’s right for you right now – and if it will help you accomplish your goals.

Contact me at 303-795-3539 or for any of your marketing needs, including help with your Facebook strategy, or if you need an introduction to a trusted social media expert who can help get you started or improve your current efforts.

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