If social media for financial services wasn’t important pre-pandemic, it definitely is now. The pandemic forced conversations and communication online for everyone – including businesses.
With this in mind, social media for businesses is no longer optional. It’s essential. And those that don’t have social media as a focus in their digital marketing strategy are almost definitely losing customers to competitors who already recognise its value.
It’s fair to say that businesses within the financial services haven’t exactly always embraced the world of social media with open arms. It’s been somewhat of a slow burn. However, there’s no doubt that the industry has now woken up and is joining other industries in making social media a priority.
That said, many businesses still aren’t sure how to really harness the power of social media marketing. Plus, these marketing channels don’t come without their challenges.
We’ll tell you all you need to know in our guide on utilising social media for financial services.
Why social media is important for financial services
One word – trust. Trust is something that weaves its way into almost all aspects of digital marketing for financial services. The financial services sector has suffered a negative reputation in recent years following the financial crisis of 2007-08. This, alongside numerous malpractice and scandals, has generated some bad press that the sector is still working hard to bounce back from.
Because of this, financial services consumers may take longer to make decisions when entering the sales funnel. They want to be sure that a finance brand is trustworthy and legitimate before they invest their hard-earned cash. In the financial services especially, this research stage is really important and social media is often one of the first places consumers will head to when gathering their research on a business. A weak social media presence – or none at all – can turn them off immediately and have them running into the arms of your competitors. It can make you look mysterious and shadowy at best to have no social media presence, and inept or inaccessible at worst.
Once you’re up and running and have gained some followers, social media offers a platform to consistently portray your brand identity and communicate with those followers 24/7. Although this can be time-consuming, committing to communicating round the clock with your customers on social media is a great way to earn and keep the trust that customers are placing in you.
With this in mind, the impact a strong social media presence can have on a consumer is invaluable. Social media has the power to attract new business, increase brand awareness, strengthen relationships and even drive web traffic if you know how to do it correctly.
Benefits of social media for financial services
Where do we start? The list is a pretty lengthy one. We’ve already covered a few, but here are some of the key plus points that you should know about…
Strengthen customer service
It’s important to realise that social media is not just a marketing tool – it’s an extension of your customer service too. Sure, posting entertaining and informative content is important, but what your customers really want is helpful and speedy responses via an online platform. Think of social media as a way to maintain a large number of customer relationships without the need to be face-to-face in the office or branch.
Did you know that an online chat is a customer’s second-most preferred option for customer support? Despite this, financial services companies are lagging behind in offering chat support on their website. However, instant messaging is available on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and utilising this to its full potential can be a good alternative to setting up a chat functionality on your website.
If, for any reason, you encounter any negative comments on social media, don’t ignore or delete them – especially if they are public for other users to see. This is likely to damage your reputation and make you look a little shady.
Address them and do what you can to turn a negative into a positive. Invite the user in question to speak with a representative from your company either over the phone or email and direct the conversation away from the comment. You could always ask them if they wouldn’t mind removing the comment later down the line when the issue has been resolved.
Strong customer engagement and simple lines of communication have the potential to positively impact sales. It allows loyalty to grow in existing customers, whilst customers at the discovery and research stage are able to seek the guidance they need from you to take them a step closer to purchase.
Build brand identity
Social media is an incredibly crowded place. To choose you over a competitor, a customer must first notice you. But how?
Standing out amongst busy feeds is all about consistent storytelling through visuals that showcase what your brand is all about. When crafting this story, ask yourself – who is your ideal customer? Is it young professionals? Families? Mirror and represent this customer within the imagery and language that you use to identify with their wants and needs.
Next, think about your brand values. What feelings do those brand values inspire? How would you represent that visually? Perhaps your core value is sustainability. To reflect this, you may choose to stick to an earthy colour palette on your social media feeds with nature-inspired visuals.
Every brand should have a tone of voice – especially in financial services where trust is paramount
Of course, brand identity isn’t all about the visuals. Brand identity is also what you say and how you say it. Every brand should have a tone of voice – especially in financial services where trust is paramount. When a tone of voice is strong and consistent, your customers hear the same person speaking every time they consume your content. This makes you feel familiar, and familiarity feeds into your customer’s level of trust.
Perhaps you already have a strong tone of voice that you use across your website and other marketing material. It’s important to note that you might need to alter your tone of voice a little to make it more suitable for social media. This is a place to be human and perhaps a little playful. Let loose and enjoy the opportunity to be less detail-heavy and even a little less professional if possible.
Humanise your brand
This leads us nicely to our next point. In financial services, being human is incredibly important. Dealing with money can feel confusing and unsettling for customers, and the financial services industry is littered with jargon, regulations and legislation. Not only that, but fintech has taken financial services to dizzy digital heights, automating the delivery and use of so many operations and processes.
And whilst fintech has, in many ways, changed the financial landscape for the better, it’s also replaced a lot of branches, desktops and friendly faces with AI and robots. When dealing with money, customers need to feel at ease and comfortable and this can be pretty hard to do with technology alone.
Although younger generations might feel right at home with a robot, many people want to talk to humans – not faceless brands. Social media can give your brand a face. It allows you to put being human at the forefront again and connect with your audience on a more personal level, opening the channels for two-way communication.
Visibility over customer insights
Social media not only allows customers to get to know your brand, but it also allows you to get to know your customers. Don’t just watch the followers roll in. Follow them back and enter their world. By following and tapping into your customer base, you can observe what they are posting about, what they care about and how they are reacting to certain situations. You can then use this to your advantage.
Let’s take COVID-19 for example. During the lockdowns and societal turmoil, were your social media audience trying hard to distract from the current state of affairs with light-hearted content, or where they engaged in the data and keen to keep abreast of the situation? With these insights, you can drive the way your brand reacts in order to connect to your customers more strongly and offer them the content that they want and need.
You can drive the way your brand reacts in order to connect to your customers
The majority of social media business accounts will also provide you with analytics to give you an insight into how and when your customer base is interacting with you. Some even allow you to see which demographics engage with your content the most. Perhaps you find that those aged between 30 and 40 ‘like’ and comment most frequently on your life insurance-related content. You can then use this information to create tailored life insurance content targeted at this age range that you know stands a good chance of performing and converting well.
Many businesses may be surprised to learn just how effective a strong social media strategy can be in driving sales and generating leads. Trust us – social media is so much more than memes and selfies! Yes, it serves as a great place to showcase your brand but it can also be an incredibly valuable lead generation channel if you know how to use it correctly.
Social media is a place to connect with those interested in your business. By monitoring your social media channels, you can identify potential leads and pull them into your sales funnel by interacting with them or by sharing relevant content.
There are quite a few ways to generate leads on social media. If you have some budget to play with, you can explore paid social. Paid social allows you to create a post and then serve it to a specific demographic of customers – for instance, males and females aged 18-30 in Leicestershire. By selecting the exact type of audience desired, you can make your content as powerful as possible to increase your chances of conversion.
You could also explore offering your followers gated content such as whitepapers, ebooks and webinars. This is valuable content targeted at your ideal customer that requires them to input their email address in order to access it. You can then nurture these leads from that point and try and turn them into a paying customer.
The importance of social media graphics
How you visually present your brand on social media can really make or break an audience’s perception of who you are and what you are all about. That’s why the graphics that you post alongside your social media content are so important to get right.
Plus, it’s a user’s first impression of you in the first five seconds of landing on your social media feed. Within those five seconds, they will decide whether your profile is interesting enough to follow. Ensure that you are making a positive impact by making your feed look slick.
Once you’ve found a style that works for your business, stick to it. You know what they say – consistency is key. Try and avoid putting out a total mismatch of colours and styles in your social media visuals
How would you bring your brand to life visually? Would the imagery be playful? Simplistic? Slick and professional? In financial services, it’s a good idea to incorporate real-life imagery of people within your social media graphics, rather than illustrations or just text and shapes. By allowing the customer to see themselves reflected back at them within your content, you’re building on that level of trust and familiarity. Plus, it’s another way to reinforce who it is exactly that you are trying to speak to with your products and services; be that families, young professionals or seniors.
Once you’ve found a style that works for your business, stick to it. You know what they say – consistency is key. Try and avoid putting out a total mismatch of colours and styles in your social media visuals. Just as you’d keep the design of your business cards and letterheads looking uniform, keeping your social media feeds uniform ensures that your channels look strong and professional.
And if you run your business like a professional, why shouldn’t your social media look professional? A myriad of mixed messages is likely to make you look like you don’t believe in your brand or have a clear identity. A visually strong business showcases your unique personality and helps you make those all-important connections with customers.
How to use each social media platform
When we talk about a ‘social media platform’, we’re predominantly referring to the big names for businesses; Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and the newest player in the game, TikTok. Many consider Youtube a social media platform, but for our purposes, we think of it as the second biggest search engine.
Let’s talk a little bit more about the role that each of these platforms plays for businesses…
Facebook is one of the most popular social media platforms out there, currently with 2.91 billion users. It’s also a pretty big deal for businesses, with over 90 million small businesses utilising this platform. To top this off, unless you are specifically marketing to Gen-Z, a huge percentage of your audience potentially lives on Facebook as it is the best place to reach Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers.
Despite being one of the older social media platforms, Facebook offers a lot – and you definitely don’t need a big budget to make the most of it. You can post text posts, image posts, videos, live videos, stories and more totally free of charge. Plus, the insights and paid advertising features are probably the most sophisticated and feature-rich around.
Over 90 million small businesses utilising this platform. To top this off, unless you are specifically marketing to Gen-Z, a huge percentage of your audience
In fact, Facebook is so geared towards businesses, that you can make use of Facebook Business Manager. Facebook Business Manager is a central space to securely manage all things business, away from your personal profile. Here, you can run and track your ads, manage your assets such as multiple pages and ad accounts and even add business partners and/or an agency to help you manage your business. With Facebook Ads Manager, you can also manage your ads across other Meta-owned social media platforms, like Instagram.
Customers head to Facebook to find information about a business and to make contact with a business. This makes it the perfect place to house all your information such as your website, opening hours, location and contact details. Make Facebook your one-stop-shop for everything related to your business.
Think of LinkedIn as Facebook wearing a tie. It’s a platform for businesses and professionals and is designed for networking, job hunting, building careers and sharing ideas. For this reason, it is predominantly used for business-to-business (B2B) marketing and communication. Having said this, millennials have been known to connect with their favourite businesses and brands on LinkedIn to keep up to date with news and updates.
LinkedIn is 277% more effective for lead generation than Facebook and Twitter. For business within the financial services industry, it’s an incredibly important place to be showcasing your business
LinkedIn allows you to make connections and build relationships, improve brand awareness, build credibility, share content and generate leads. In fact, LinkedIn is 277% more effective for lead generation than Facebook and Twitter. For business within the financial services industry, it’s an incredibly important place to be showcasing your business. It’s where key decision-makers live and many of LinkedIn’s members are likely to be in the market for your products and services.
LinkedIn is one of the only social media platforms that focus on the people behind the brand more than the product or service itself. It allows insight and a behind the scenes look into your company’s culture and industry. Not only do many customers want to see this, but it’s also a great way to attract potential opportunities such as event invitations, magazine or podcast interviews and of course, new talent into your business who may want to join your team.
It will come as no surprise that Instagram is the platform of choice for Millennials and Gen-Z. However, is it the platform of choice for finance brands? Well, not always. For a long time, Instagram was somewhat unchartered territory for financial services. However, many brands are now harnessing its power by sharing helpful and aspirational finance content for the younger generations who are now beginning to apply for mortgages and take out insurance.
Above many things, Instagram gives you the opportunity to be creative and visual. Remember the importance of social media graphics that we touched on earlier? Instagram really is the place to bring this all to life. The visual aspect of this platform gives you the opportunity to imprint on the minds of your customers and potential customers.
Many brands are now harnessing its power by sharing helpful and aspirational finance content for the younger generations
It’s also incredibly interactive. Take Instagram’s ‘story’ feature for example. Stories are instant snaps of content with a 24-hour expiry date. Viewing story content is arguably even easier than scrolling through a feed, so many users prefer to consume this side of Instagram’s content. You can add things like polls, quizzes and Q&A boxes to story posts in order to get to know your audience and collect data about their wants, desires and behaviours.
Once you have set up an Instagram profile, you can turn it into a business account for free. With an Instagram business account, you can add more detail to your bio, access Instagram insights such as profile views, reach, impressions and demographics, utilise Instagram adverts and add links to Instagram stories.
Twitter is a unique social media platform, in that it allows you to communicate via short messages called ‘tweets’ that are up to 280 characters long. Over the years, Twitter has become a place to find out what’s happening in the world, acting almost like an enormous focus group. It allows you to be in and amongst it with your customers and industry to gain insights into thoughts and feelings.
Get on Twitter and immerse yourself in the conversation. It might not be the best place to ‘sell, sell, sell’, but it’s certainly a good place to get to know your audience
When using Twitter, people tend to operate in a slightly different mindset than they would on other platforms. From a professional standpoint, it’s a place for conversation and (sometimes very heated) debate. From a personal standpoint, it’s a place for jokes and memes to make the rounds, and for opinion pieces to be shared and discussed.
Want to know how the latest budget announcement is received by your peers and customers? Get on Twitter and immerse yourself in the conversation. It might not be the best place to ‘sell, sell, sell’, but it’s certainly a good place to get to know your audience and talk about things that are close to your brand’s heart; be that sustainability, ethical finance or fraud prevention.
If you are a financial services brand and don’t think that TikTok is the right place for you, then think again. Amongst viral dance routines, hilarious dog videos and sea shanty songs, there is actually a wealth of finance content on this platform. The #finance hashtag on TikTok currently has 5.9 billion views (as of April 2022), with #personalfinance closely following with 5.7 billion. In fact, finance has become so big on TikTok that it’s got its own name – FinTok.
Whether it’s FinTok content around money-making hacks, saving for retirement, trading and cryptocurrency or simply educating people about all things finance, TikTok is absolutely full of experts and businesses sharing their advice. Not only does this present a great opportunity for your business to create engaging video content, but it also presents the opportunity to reach a generation of people that you may have otherwise struggled to access.
The #finance hashtag on TikTok currently has 5.9 billion views (as of April 2022), with #personalfinance closely following with 5.7 billion. In fact, finance has become so big on TikTok that it’s got its own name – FinTok
FinTok proves that Gen-Z is thinking about their money. They want to make it work for them early on in life and perhaps even get into investing to make their future more financially bright. For many younger people, TikTok is their first and only source of education on money matters. Is this a market that you could tap into?
So, feeling inspired to go to town on those social media platforms? There’s no reason why financial services cannot get as much out of social media like any other business. Sure, social media does take a lot of time and effort if you want to get it right, but we promise it’s worth it.
If you are looking for support in social media, contact us at Assisted Digital. We help businesses just like yours with content creation and social media channel management on a daily basis. Find out more about our social media services, or contact us to speak to a member of our time about how we can help.