Banks have a tendency to count their chickens before they hatch when it comes to social media and content strategies. They attempt to calculate a return on investment long before social media will be of any value to them. In this way, they miss out on an opportunity to grow exponentially.
Social media strategies depend on establishing an emotional connection with an audience and that takes time to develop. However, there are several steps that banks can take to work toward that goal.
While 69 million people in the United States now use online banking, banks have struggled to persuade those customers to purchase bank products. Customers see anywhere from 3,000-20,000 marketing messages a day and have becoming increasingly good at tuning out ads.
A well-designed blog feed on a bank's website, placed next to the customer log-in, can increase the chances of directing traffic to a blog. If banks can convince customers to read their posts, they are on their way to building a solid relationship. They can also direct traffic to their blog by linking to it on social media channels, guest blogging on other sites, featuring bloggers from outside the bank and frequently linking to previous posts.
Banks will also have a better chance of connecting with customers if they focus on providing emotional content. That's what makes content share-able, according to a Buzzsumo study of social share counts of over 100 million articles over an eight-month period. A New York Times research study supports this finding; interviews with 2,500 people found that they are most likely to share content when it's entertaining, contains value, gives friends a better sense of their personal identity and helps them stay connected with others.
For banks, creating emotional content may require thinking outside the norm. While you may think that writing about mortgage interest rates will lure viewers, content that tugs at the heartstrings and entertains has a far better chance of being successful. For example, banks may want to focus on stories about the goodwill they generate in their communities. As more customers share a bank's blog posts and social media posts, more people will view them as influencers and demonstrate interest in their products.
Lastly, banks should use their blogs as sales conduits. Banks spend the majority of their online marketing budget on pay-per-click ads and other ways to display their advertisements on popular websites, social media platforms and search engines. But they barely spend any time, money, or energy on the ads that could be running on their own websites or blogs.
Since banks own the traffic that comes to their blog, they also own the blog's ad spots. This space can be particularly advantageous for several reasons. The ads will reach customers who are already engaged and interested in the content that banks provide, and they won't have to compete with ads from other companies. And whereas banks might be charged a click-through rate when they post ads on other sites, they can market themselves on their own blogs for free.
While banks are beginning to understand more about social media and emotional content, they are still far too impatient when it comes to seeing results. They must understand that ROI will come once they have succeeded in spurring online conversations, forming emotional bonds with customers and netted a significant following. Only then will banks be able to see how much their social channels are driving profits.
John Siracusa is the president and chief executive of mOSa Marketing. He helps banks build highly effectivesocial media programs. A popular industryspeaker,he helps banks connect with not only their customers but with their community at large. You can follow him on Twitter @johnsiracusa.