At Social Fresh, one of our core communities is finance. So we’ve been helping folks in this industry get ahead of their peers for a while now.
How should finance firms be using social media and content marketing to get ahead?
We’ve pulled together a list of current tips and trends just for finance marketers.
Finance Brands Are Becoming Social Media Leaders
Inside and outside the industry, you’ll always hear that marketing for finance isn’t sexy. Or is it?
It’s true that financial services have a ton of regulations and they must look professional and buttoned up at all times. We’re talking about money here and who wants to do business with a company you don’t trust?
Social media and content marketing can accelerate old school finance marketing efforts to deliver more prospects, better customer relationships, and shorter sales cycles. Selling financial services today requires more story, more personality, and more personal touch than ever before. These tools can help.
And that’s important because new financial service brands that utilize technology and social media are popping more and more often.
Apps like Acorns and Robinhood are disrupting the investment space, not to mention the avalanche of cryptocurrency investment apps. Square, Stripe, and Venmo (PayPal acquisition) are household names for payments. Rocket Mortgage, Lenda, and others are dramatically simplifying the mortgage loan process. Lemonade is doing the same, maybe even more dramatically, for home and renters insurance.
There are dozens of others. Financial services are innovating at an incredibly fast rate.
Banks, lenders, insurers, and advisors have to compete in a space where their products are not huge differentiators and today they have to be more accessible than ever–to make sure they don’t get left behind by new technologies.
As I work with our conference speakers, I wanted to share some key marketing insights and recommendations.
1. Stand Out With Instagram
I’ve said for a couple years now that Instagram is the most important social network for most businesses, next to Facebook. And that is more true today than ever. Instagram has 1 billion monthly active users. No other social network has crossed that mark outside of Facebook, who is currently at over 2 billion MAUs.
Instagram has many advantages for finance marketers when compared to Facebook. The engagement on Instagram for businesses is often much higher and a higher quality than what they are seeing on Facebook. Especially when the brand is able to zero in on a clear set of quality Instagram templates.
Additionally, Instagram does not have as much marketing content or news, as compared to Facebook. It’s more often filled with inspiring photos, fun memes, and positive stories from close friends. It’s a great place for banks, lenders, insurance, and wealth advisors to stand out.
Mike Langford, CEO at finservMarketing and one of our speakers for Social Fresh Finance, shared that he thinks “Instagram is MUCH more interactive and conversational now than it was just a year ago.” The platform has steadily transitioned from a photo sharing site to a conversation-based community for friends and like-minded groups.
Mike also shared that he sees Instagram users as more willing to engage overall compared to other social networks. “Peoples’ minds are much more open and relaxed on Instagram than on Facebook or Twitter where they are bombarded with politics and other cringe-worthy stuff.”
Instagram is definitely a different type of social network for most finance firms. It will likely be a big shift from what you’re used to. And creating a ton of original visual content can be challenging. But the engagement opportunity Mike talks about is there and a real underutilized strategy for financial services.
2. Take The Opportunities Facebook Gives You
Facebook has made several changes to their news feed over the last few months. These changes continue a long-term trend on Facebook that makes it harder for businesses to show up organically on the platform.
This isn’t new.
This is a famous chart from 2014 that shows how Facebook’s stock price goes up the more reach goes down for pages. Since it forces businesses to use ads more.
These recent changes, however, are more the end of a long story rather than something new to be worried about. We’ve known it would end this way for a while.
Yes, your Facebook page reach will drop even more than it has the last few years.
It’s frustrating when Facebook makes changes like this, but if you are able to adapt and take the opportunities Facebook gives, you’ll have an advantage over your competition.
“It remains the #1 social network with an audience size of 2.13 billion active users. And, there is no other platform that provides the vast depth and breadth of targeting parameters. Facebook’s paid placement products are still the best your ad budget can buy,” said Mari.
As Mari mentions, these recent changes should only increase the already huge value of Facebook’s ad platform. Facebook ads are easily the most powerful tool at your disposal in social media. That’s a big statement and I don’t say it lightly.
When I talked about more customers and shorter sales cycles before, this is one of the key technologies that can help you achieve those results.
Facebook ads can also help you lower your customer acquisition costs. For example, Turkish bank Akbank ran a promotion for one of their loan products that allows them to acquire new loan customers at a 70% lower cost per loan compared to other marketing channels.
Beyond increasing your focus on Facebook’s ad options, here are more results from Facebook’s news feed shift:
- Comments Are King: Comments are more important than ever. If you are posting content from your page without thinking about how to generate comments and discussion from your fans, your content will fail.
- You May Want to Post Less: Comments are so important, Facebook will begin to punish you if you are sharing content that consistently gets no comments. So no more posting just to post.
- Live Video Wins Big: Mainly because it generates six times more comments than content types on Facebook.
- Promote Posts off of Facebook: Find new ways to push your audience to a specific Facebook Post. Ads, email lists, other social channels, etc. This is a suggestion from Brian Fanzo and this tactic is more important than ever.
- Posts Are Now Campaigns: Treat each Facebook post as a mini-campaign. The main goal of that campaign? Comments and discussion. If you can get friends to talk to each other on one of your posts, you will see your post and page reach jump significantly.
3. Keep An Eye On LinkedIn Trends
LinkedIn is a major channel for finance marketers. Especially agents and advisors looking to connect one-on-one with new and existing customers in a professional way.
But LinkedIn is increasingly shifting their platform to be more of a social network similar to Facebook. What this means is you have to start paying more attention to LinkedIn and the changes they make. Those changes are opportunities to stand out.
For instance, LinkedIn just opened native video a few months ago to all users.
Anyone can now upload native videos on LinkedIn that are less than 10 minutes. Early engagement numbers for these videos look really good, even compared to other video platform options. You should definitely be testing this.
Social Fresh Finance speaker, Deborah Owens, founder of WealthyU, tells all the finance marketers and agents she works with that LinkedIn is one of their top resources for building their brand and finding new customers.
Another recent change on LinkedIn is an improvement to LinkedIn Groups. They are cleaning up the experience a little which should improve Groups engagement. Adding videos to groups and allowing LinkedIn Groups to show up in the main stream. As this LinkedIn Groups refresh rolls out, it could be a good opportunity for finance firms.
4. Don’t Forget About YouTube
YouTube is easy to forget when Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram dominate the headlines in marketing. Most of us already know Youtube is a dominant social network, with only parent company Google getting more search engine traffic.
The power of video to help educate and build trust in potential customers is unmatched. Facebook and Youtube are the top video channels for your finance brand to have a presence today. And while we will always recommend Facebook, it’s important to make sure you have a strategy for Youtube that takes into account what your customers are searching.
Social Fresh speaker alum and video expert Owen Hemsath has worked with a lot of finance customers and told me that “financial marketers have long ignored YouTube and other video marketing platforms as a viable asset for promoting financial services. This has created a gaping hole for my financial clients to happily fill.”
Owen said his team has “built channels around retirement, investments, taxes, and even cryptocurrency – all of which have gained thousands of views, subscribers, and revenue from new client acquisition.”
Youtube is a powerful option for your finance firm. And many in the finance industry are not taking advantage.
5. Don’t Ignore One of the Most Public Parts of Your Brand
Facebook, Google, and a growing number of online review websites are often more trusted by your potential customers than your own messaging and advertising.
If you have a physical office or an app, the number of those review websites multiplies even more.
Online reviews and testimonials are a very public record of your transactions with customers. And very trusted. Beyond making your customer experience as good as possible, there are steps you can take to review and optimize this data trail of public approval.
Gabby Griffin, Social Media Manager at US Bank and one of our speakers for Social Fresh Finance, manages this process as a part of her day-to-day. “Your customers are telling you exactly where you went wrong or where you’re doing well. Make sure you’re paying attention,” said Gabby.
Document every site where you the public can leave reviews of your business. Monitor them. Learn how to encourage good reviews and mitigate negative reviews.
Collect the best testimonials of your brand and amplify them. They are gold for a financial services brand.
6. Design Your Video Strategy Around Trust
Video is your most emotionally engaging content opportunity. And Youtube is not the only platform you need to be thinking about for video marketing. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even Pinterest offer compelling video marketing options.
When I asked digital technology strategist and keynote speaker Brian Fanzo what advice he would give to financial services brands when it comes to their video marketing efforts, his focus was on trust.
When someone asks Brian how important video marketing is, he responds by asking “How important is trust?”
“I’d say video everything when it comes to making decisions around financial matters. And today nobody trusts a brand or a logo. But digital native consumers do trust the people who work for financial companies. You have to humanize the brand and shrink the distance between the brand and the consumer and there’s no better way to do this than video. Video allows your customers to look you in the eye digitally.”
MasterCard is a brand that has done a great job with their video marketing, beyond just reposting their TV commercials to Youtube. Their videos are fun and have personality. They break out of the stodgy persona many consumers expect in finance.
Here is a great mobile-friendly short video from MasterCard’s Facebook page.
7. Increase Your Knowledge of Cryptocurrency and Blockchain
I’ll be honest. I am only just beginning to learn about blockchain, Bitcoin, and other cryptocurrencies. I can say all signs point to the influence these technologies are having on consumers is only growing. And growing rapidly.
For the Social Fresh Finance Conference, we wanted to make sure we talked about cryptocurrencies and blockchain. This topic may or may not become a part of your product offering as a financial services firm, but it will continue to be an important curiosity for your customers. And eventually, sooner or later (maybe soon), it will impact how you do business.
We brought in Savannah Peterson, Founder of Savvy Millennial, to talk about her experience with this growing corner of the industry. Savannah has worked with several cryptocurrencies and startups that are building businesses based on these technologies.
“The digital asset revolution is here! What an exciting and wild year 2018 is poised to be.” said Savannah. “It’s important that finance marketers keep up with changing trends in blockchain and cryptocurrency. The finance consumer community is very curious about what the future holds, and no matter what role you play in the existing financial ecosystem, it’s important to contribute to the conversation.”
Savannah said finance firms should “expect questions from your customers and audiences as momentum in this space continues to build.”
If you’d like to see Savannah’s session and many other on social media marketing for finance companies, you can sign up for the replay here: Social Fresh Finance.
If we think financial services are innovating fast today, can you imagine what we will start seeing as cryptocurrencies and blockchain grow their impact on the industry?