The best marketers are those who can make some of the most mundane subjects come to life. How do you talk about loans without making people curl up? How do you obtain younger customers and still appeal to your older ones? We know social media and banks don’t seem to go hand in hand, but they can. Because of the nuances and regulations in the banking and finance industries, your social media team should be familiar with those policies before starting on the fun content ideas.

It’s a tough time for banks at the date of publishing this article. With the COVID–19 global pandemic in full bloom across the US, banks are scrambling to communicate effectively to members about waiving late fees, applying to loan programs and more.

It’s not always easy to communicate during an ever-changing or uncertain situation but Navy Federal Credit Union is taking care to update their information page and responding to members’ comments about their concerns.

Compliance and Policies

In a regulated industry like banking, it’s of utmost importance that your social media marketing is up to par with your local and federal compliant needs. The consequences are higher in this industry so you should get familiar with what’s acceptable to post and what’s not.

To ensure that you’re compliant with the policies out there, it’s best to take several protective measures:

  • Create and document a bank social media strategy that has been reviewed by your compliance officers.
  • Set up a checks system where posts are not immediately blasted out by one person but rather reviewed by several people. Sprout Social’s platform offers roles that can limit publishing abilities and an option to add message approval workflows.
  • Schedule periodic audits and reviews of your policies. The Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) has a published guide for social media (.doc) and it’s probable that it’ll be updated again.
  • Link your privacy and social media policies in all of your accounts. Doing this means that you only need to update one page instead of every account.
  • Incorporate internal social media policies for your employees. Employees can be your biggest advocate but they can also put your company at risk if they post the wrong thing online as representatives of the brand.
  • Create a social media crisis plan for when things inevitably go wrong.

A good example of linking to social media guidelines for banks is illustrated above in Wells Fargo’s Facebook Page. This guidelines page is linked in all their social media accounts and serves as their notice to followers who interact with them.
Now that social media is much more established as a marketing and advertising platform, better guidance exists. These are regulated by the following agencies:

  • The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
  • The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
  • The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
  • The National Credit Union Administration
  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
  • The State Liaison Committee

It’s best to consult with your compliance officers, lawyers and other legal guidances familiar with the industry if you are starting social media profiles from scratch or trying out a new social media platform.

1. Use milestones to target your audience

Banks and financial institutions play a large role in life milestones. A person’s first house or a loan application is a big deal and cause for a social media celebration. The Sprout Social Index, Edition XIII: Moments & Milestones report found that 44% of consumers would share about a home purchase or move and 30% would include the brand.

Consumers share milestones on social media for a myriad of reasons. Fifty-four percent of people post to invite their network to celebrate and 43% post to inform. When they include a brand in the post, 50% do it to recommend the brand and 34% include to say thanks.

When tagged in a milestone post, interaction is important. Thanking someone through a like or comment and resharing their stories builds up trust with your audience. As you can tell by the above data table, there’s always room for improvement in how quickly and often you respond to messages.

In Chase’s video post above, the brand used Stories to share direct advice from their Home Lending manager. The content is educational and not explicit advertising. It also works because it catches those who are in the research phase of buying a home. Chase used the post to establish authority in the field of home loans.

2. Celebrate company milestones

There are many milestones within a company that you could celebrate:

  • Employee hiring, retirement, promotions and achievements
  • Company-wide successes
  • New initiatives and partnerships with non-profit organizations

For smaller institutions like credit unions, company milestones are cause for any type of celebration, including giveaways.

Redwood Credit Union celebrated their 70th anniversary with a cash giveaway that asked for engagement from their current membership. Members responded with positive stories and decades-long loyalty.

3. Use your employees as advocates

Not only can you highlight them as stories from within, but because bank tellers and loan lenders work directly with customers, they’re ideal as your biggest online advocates. With a little training on what they are allowed to post and not post, employees are able to share about new company initiatives and outings from a more personal perspective.

For example, do your branches have corporate social responsibility volunteer days? Encourage the team members who are participating to post about the experience. Putting faces to names having them associated with a brand brings a little more personality to your business.

4. Create educational material

In the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer (PDF), the financial services industry enjoyed a 12 percentage point increase in trust over the course of eight years. While this sounds great as a fact, it’s less impressive when you compare it to other industries. Among the nine industries covered, financial services rank the lowest in consumer trust.

It’s not too difficult to reason out. In the US, having a strong credit rating supports you in renting an apartment, applying for a credit card and more. But paying it off along with student loans and mortgage payments gets overwhelming, not to mention fees and late payments you might owe. Being able to maintain a minimum balance or qualify for a business loan is a privilege. To combat this and increase trust among consumers on social media, it’s best to provide educational, non-marketing material.

Nerd Wallet dispenses financial advice for those who might not have others to guide them. The post itself is timely because the market is uncertain. They utilized an investing expert on their team to assist with the question.

5. Share first-person stories

Everyone loves a good story, especially when there’s an underdog. There are many storytelling platforms now, and you can reuse a video posted on Instagram to repost to Facebook to repost to LinkedIn. With each reuse, a simple change of caption to tailor to your platform’s audience is all you need.

In the above two examples, Bank of America used the same video story on both Instagram and LinkedIn. But as you can see, the copy is slightly altered to adjust for their different audiences.

6. Respond to customers

As painful as it might be to have a constant barrage of customer complaints, every customer deserves to be heard and responded to. On Twitter, a separate Twitter account for managing support inquiries goes a long way. And on Facebook, utilizing Messenger and perhaps Facebook automation to filter through requests also helps.

Building out prewritten but personalized responses will come in useful. There are bound to be common complaints and issues and having these responses ready to go cuts down on time and helps your team focus on the customer instead. Social customer care is an important part of managing customer relations and worthy of investment.

Conclusion

Marketing for a financial institution is tough. Nearly everyone uses a bank which is a very wide audience. And not only are you limited by what you can say, you have to be careful how you say it. Document all of your strategies and communication plans before you start in on the content. Utilize your best resources for content: your employees, stories of successful customers and educational material that doesn’t push your brand.

Trust in banks, while on the rise, is still low when compared to other industries. Social media may have contributed to the increase in trust because it offers a more direct contact to the company. With a click of a button, a customer can send a message instead of waiting for hours on the phone.

If you’re already managing social media for a bank and want to refresh your strategy, utilize the social media toolkit, filled with templates for a data-forward social mindset.