4 Rules of Social Media for Banks and Credit Unions. Part I: Twitter and Facebook.

Social media tips for banks and credit unions.

The Web gurus are still saying Facebook and Twitter are crucial for any online business. So why do many financial institutions feel that their social marketing efforts are a total waste of time?
How should financial institutions “do” social media?
The gurus’ response to that question is most often, “Well, I’d tell you…but then I’d have to charge you.”
But not me. I’ll explain how by doing four quite simple things you can grow on the social scene. Read on; this isn’t a list. It’s an article.
Are You “Fun” Enough?
It’s all well and good for travel agents and entertainment companies posting exciting content on social, but if you’re a bank or a credit union, it’s easy to feel like your industry just isn’t fun enough to engage people. “Serious” industries like finance require a much deeper kind of research to produce content worth linking to, or “Liking”…
In fact, unless you have champions out there prepared to do it for free, or an employee with an extracurricular dedication to your real community, doing social media as a financial institution is hard work. Granted, it’s not like pushing wheelbarrows full of wet concrete up steep hills, but the mental pain from beating one’s head against the wall to come up with share-able content can still take its toll.

Social media for financial institutions.

Have them eating out of your hand.

1. Semi-Automate and “Interestify” Your Timeline
Here’s how I’d recommend doing social media if you’re a marketer for a community bank or credit union. Apologies if you’ve heard this one before.

Automate.
It’s too tedious an exercise to go through all the social media tools, so let’s just talk about Hootsuite.
– Create a Hootsuite account.
– Schedule your posts and tweets in Hootsuite in advance. This is a Very Good Thing.
– Log into Hootsuite at least twice a week. Keep those scheduled posts current.
– Spread between four and seven FB posts and Twitter tweets per day. Post to both social media networks. – Ignore the gurus who say you have to tailor your content for one or the other network. This is balderdash. – Ignore those who say tweeting once or thrice a day is enough; it isn’t.

Link to the most amazing and interesting stories and pictures you can find. Anything remotely connected to the world of finance.
By “remotely connected to” I mean things like this. And this. And especially this.
Among the most clickable subjects are:
* News from your immediate community (assuming locals are following you).
* Photographs from community events you host or attend (ditto).
* “Green” bank or credit union design.
* Banking architecture in general.
* Important financial news that affects your clients.
* Any local traffic, accident, dramatic news.
* Local politics.
* Contests.
* Super-exotic pics of pretty much anything.
* Humor.
* Questions that encourage interaction

The central attraction on social media.

The center of attention.

2. Visual Awesomeness Means #Winning

You may have noticed that the list above starts off on-point, but “super-exotic pics of pretty much anything” involves things tangential to banking. To say the least. The thing is, really amazing images are always going to be liked, favorited, shared and retweeted. It’s science. So do it.
Sure, there are accounts out there that are incongruous because it’s an account for a Minnesota credit union that only tweets pictures of tropical beaches.
That isn’t what I’m talking about.
I’m talking about being a credit union or bank that tweets amazing images from the world of finance, architecture, industry and automobiles (and more) at least 25% of the time. You can connect pretty much anything to banks and credit unions if you put your mind to it.
There’s no end of talented photographers out there uploading pics to the Web that are breathtaking. If you credit the photographer (especially after following or liking them and inserting a link in the post) it can be a relationship builder into the bargain.

Engage with customers on Twitter and Facebook.

Need I say more?

3. Engage

Keep it real. By which I mean log into your accounts at least every other day to check if anyone’s responded to you. Engaging with others is like being seen out on the town with the cool kids, even if they’re not that cool. It looks cool.
Things to Avoid
The digital equivalents of social diseases are many and varied. Off-color joke formats, innuendo-laden hashtags, etc., all fall into this category. Avoid joining in unless you’re positive the format is clean and share-worthy. Don’t make your bank the social skank.
Abuse and Complaints
When your customers, or just random trolls, try to berate companies on social media, the gurus tell you it’s all about damage limitation and salvaging one’s brand equity before it’s torn apart by the mob, but I prefer to see it as an opportunity to shine.
Count to ten. Take a breath. Step back a few paces. These people may have justifiable grievances; they might have been treated shoddily out there in the real world, by someone at one of your branches (very unlikely though, right?). They may just be bored and looking for laffs.
Either way, this is an opportunity to display compassion, patience, maturity and possibly even a little humor. Most importantly, if it’s a disgruntled customer respond immediately. And wait. And every time they respond, you respond immediately. I guarantee this won’t happen much in the bank and credit union social sphere. That’s one of the advantages of being in financial. The travel agencies may have the jump on us when it comes to being fun, but a whole lot more can go wrong on that weekender to Cancun than in your esteemed and sober branches.

Unfollowing people on Twitter.

Social tools can lead to tears.

4. Don’t Use Social Media Tools to Mass Follow/Unfollow People

In more innocent days, it was possible to follow the gurus’ advice when they told you “don’t worry about who’s following you or unfollowing you, just tweet, enjoy, and follow whoever you like”.
Alas, the profusion of Twitter tools like Tweepi and JustUnfollow now make it easy to follow boatloads of people in one fell swoop, and to know who unfollowed you. Guess what most peoples’ reaction to that is?
They unfollow you back.
So Twitter is fast becoming a mutalist prison. Everyone is subjected to boring and unimaginative timelines because they used a tool that enabled them to indiscriminately follow a ton of unremarkable people in the hope they followed them back and, if they didn’t, were dropped like a hot stone.
You’re best not using these tools to find people to follow; do it the old school way (yeah, I just used the phrase “old school” to describe a social media practice). Click on peoples’ profiles and read each profile description properly.
This way you won’t be subjected the most inane garbage from #TeamFollowBack (who are these people?) every time you log in. Plus you’ll be spared the indignity of being unfollowed by the Twitter ignorami, a most unpleasant experience.
It’s Simple:

1. Create a Hootsuite account and schedule 7 posts to FB and twitter most days.
2. Post lots of awesome image-based content.
3. Be sure to engage other users. Be ultra-human to people with valid complaints.
4. Don’t use tools to mass follow/unfollow. It pollutes your timeline and irritates no end.

Social media success for businesses.

This could be you. No, really…

And now for the kicker: Facebook is no place for doing financial business, and Twitter won’t make you a cent. It’s fluff. There are other social platforms out there that can help you, however.
Stay tuned for Part II – “How Linked In Helps Banks and Credit Unions”