How to Structure a Bank Marketing Department

Which roles do you fill when building your bank's marketing dream team? This guide will show you the following:

  • Who does what
  • The right structure to execute strategy
  • How compliance software can help




How to Structure a Bank Marketing Department

Which roles do you fill when building your bank's marketing dream team? This guide will show you the following:

  • Who does what
  • The right structure to execute strategy
  • How compliance software can help



We recently wrote an article on getting started with Instagram advertising. Now it’s time to take your ads to the next level. Keep the following best practices in mind to get more from your Instagram ads.

1. Design your ad based on your desired result.

As with any marketing strategy, the first step is to determine the goal, or desired result, of your Instagram ad campaign.

Instagram offers several campaign objectives you can select from — and the objective you choose will influence how your ads are optimized and how you pay for them. For example, if your goal is to get more followers, click-throughs on your ad will be less of a priority. Instead, you may choose to focus on your ad’s reach and frequency

If you’re unsure where to start, go back to Marketing 101 and brush up on the sales funnel. A great way to get a cold audience into your funnel is to begin with an awareness or reach campaign. These campaigns are lower in cost and can be a great way to expand your visibility.

As you move down the funnel, test out consideration stage campaign objectives. These may cost slightly more than awareness campaigns, but the results are of higher value, and drives users from Instagram to your website or app.

Finally, as you’re targeting warmer audiences, perhaps in a retargeting campaign, test out a conversion campaign objective for the final push to drive sales (more on this in #6, below).

2. A/B test.

One of the best ways to improve your ad results — and gain insights to inform your strategy going forward — is to set up an A/B test. The most important thing to remember with an A/B test is something you learned in middle school science: Choose one variable to test and keep everything else about the two ads the same.

These test variables could be many things, but some common options include ad copy, call to action, imagery and other creative elements or audiences being targeted.

A big benefit of an A/B test is the ability to re-allocate your budget to the better performing ad after a certain period of testing time. Smart Campaigns, a solution exclusively from Denim Social, is the first-ever solution to test campaign variables across multiple locations and automatically allocate your budget to top-performing ads in every location.

3. Personalize audiences.

Instagram ads allow all the same targeting options as Facebook ads, including targeting based on location, demographics, interests, behavior and more. As you would expect, the more targeted your ads are to the right audience, the better chance they have of achieving your campaign objective.

You also have the option to create a Custom Audience by uploading a list to reach your current customers or other consumers who have already interacted with your business. From there, you can also create a Lookalike Audience to expand your reach and get your ad in front of consumers who are similar to your most valuable customers.

4. Optimize your content.

When considering your ad content and creative elements, think about your objective, who you’re trying to reach and what kind of message and tone will motivate them to engage with your ad.

Different formats are available based on the campaign objective you chose. The basic Instagram ad formats are photo ads, carousel ads, video ads and Stories ads. When building a photo or carousel ad, be sure to use engaging, high-resolution images that will appeal to the audience you’re targeting. Instagram video ads can be up to 60 seconds long; however, for best results, we recommend keeping videos to 15 seconds or less.

5. Personalize the post-click experience.

Be sure to give thought to what happens when an Instagram user clicks on your ad. Is your call-to-action clear so users know exactly what they will get after they click? If you are driving them off of Instagram to your website or somewhere else, is it a consistent experience?

Pages from Denim Social helps financial services marketers increase conversion rates with post-click landing page experiences that are aligned with pre-click expectations. Create hundreds of code-free, personalized landing pages on behalf of local advisors in a matter of minutes.

6. Retarget.

Retargeting is one of the most effective ways to convert leads in today’s digital space. By adding the Facebook Pixel to your website or landing page (remember, Instagram is owned by Facebook), you can easily create an audience of Instagram users who have previously engaged with your brand and shown interest in what you have to offer.

Try to create these audiences based on the action you want them to take with your ad. For example, if you are creating an Instagram ad about a specific product, consider targeting users who have visited that product’s page on your website in the last 30 days.

With Denim Pages, we’ve made the process of adding the Facebook Pixel and seamlessly retargeting consumers a breeze.
For help creating a strategy to reach more customers on Instagram, access our Guide to Building Stronger Customer Relationships on Instagram.

Make the most of your social media presence by optimizing your images and including essential information about your business on each platform. By giving your customers an optimal digital experience, you will be able to broaden your reach and provide better customer service through your digital platforms.



Profile picture: 180 x 180px

Cover photo: 840 x 312px

Keep the main content of your image centered. On a desktop the photo will display as 840x312px, but on mobile will size down to 640x360px.

Facebook post image: 1200 x 630px

The ideal width for a Facebook post image is 1200px, but height can vary based on what type of device the image display is optimized for. We recommend keeping it at the recommended size to keep consistency on all devices.

When creating a Facebook Ad graphic, any text should not take up more than 20% of the photo. You can find a cheat sheet here:

Facebook Link Image: 1200 x 628px

Make sure to claim ownership of your links for the ability to change the link preview photo. You can find more info on that here:

Carousel Post: 600 x 600px

Carousel posts are a great way to display multiple services that you offer to your customers. When placing a Facebook ad you can link each carousel photo to a different link, making it easy for people to navigate to your specific products.

Facebook Story: 1080 x 1920px

Make the most of your stories by using all of your space and creating a fullscreen experience.


Page name:

This is where you can name your Facebook Page, but be sure to keep it shorter than 75 characters.

Page username:

Customize your page URL by adding a username, making it easier for people to locate and navigate people from other digital platforms. Your Facebook URL can include up to 50 characters.

Page call to action:

Facebook gives you a variety of choices on calls to action. For example, if you’d like customers to contact you by email, you can set up a “Send Email” button with your email address connected and ready to go.



Profile picture: 400 x 400px

Upload your business logo here to personalize your profile. If this page is for an individual, this is where you will upload their headshot.

Cover Photo: 1584 x 396px

Having a personalized business cover photo will make your profile look more professional and give you the opportunity to provide page visitors with more of the look and feel of your business. This can include an image related to your business or a graphic with information on services you provide or your business slogan. Be sure to center your main content to give your mobile viewers a an optimized experience.

LinkedIn post photo: 1200 x 628px (Optimized for mobile)

When targeting an audience on both desktop and mobile, make sure that you optimize for mobile to give people the best experience.

1200 x 1200 px (optimized for desktop)

When you are specifically targeting views on desktop, this is the ideal size image to use.

LinkedIn Link Photo: 1200 x 628px

Providing an image with your link preview can help give viewers a better idea of article content and also communicate your brand look and feel.


Page name:

This is where your business name is located, as well as your company industry, location, and number of followers.

Page description:

Add your business slogan, mission, or short description to tell people what your company can do.



Profile picture: 400 x 400px

Upload your business logo or headshot to personalize your profile.

Cover photo: 1500 x 500px

Be sure to center your content to give your followers an optimized experience on mobile.

Twitter post photo: 1200 x 675px (16:9 ratio)

Allow your followers to see the entirety of the photo in their feed by adhering to this sizing guideline.


Underneath your profile photo, your company name and username will be displayed.

Write a short bio to tell people more about your business.



Profile photo: 110 x 110px

Your profile picture will be small, so be sure your image is sized correctly and centered. This is a great place for your company logo.

Profile thumbnail: Displays as 161 x 161px (recommended 1080 width)

This is a preview of your large image post, but looks best when the photo posted is square.

Highlight Cover: 1080 x 1920px

Your cover photos should have centered images to give your highlight reel a balanced look. You can also name your highlights, but be concise as they can only be 15 characters long.

Instagram Feed Photo: 1080 x 1080px

The recommended width for all Instagram feed photos is 1080px, but the height can vary. To optimize for your feed display within your profile, we recommend using the sizing listed above and keep your image square.

Instagram Feed Ad Photo: 1080 x 1080px

Your ad photo will display the same as a normal feed photo, but with a link attached. When creating an ad in Ads Manager, you’ll be able to upload a separate photo for Instagram to keep your photos optimized for the user experience.

Instagram Story: 1080 x 1920px

Make the most of your stories by using all of your space and creating a fullscreen experience.

What’s in a #Hashtag?
November 30, 2020

Before 2007 the hashtag symbol was simply known as the “pound” or “number” symbol, but now by putting this symbol in front of words and short phrases in a social media post, they become a “hashtag” – which creates deeper meaning. Hashtags may seem arbitrary because of how widely they are used, but they can add a lot of value to your content strategy if you’re intentional about where you use them. The many benefits of hashtags can include content awareness, community building, SEO influence, and more.

Content Strategy

Hashtags bring together content that has shared subject matter that otherwise may never be associated. This gives the reader the opportunity to view content that other people have created around a hashtag and use it to influence your strategy moving forward. For example: If you are interested in creating a social media campaign around “financial freedom,” searching the hashtag #financialfreedom will open the door for you to find questions people have, social posts that have been utilized with this topic, and what other businesses are saying. You may find that someone else has already done a similar social campaign, and it would make sense to change some of your content ideas to differentiate yourself in the market. Getting an understanding of how your content will fit into the conversation can help provide value and drive clicks back to your website.

Community Building

Are you hosting an event, wanting to create synergy between people, or looking for community input on a specific topic? A hashtag is a great way to group together information and  conversations in one easily searchable place. By creating a hashtag unique to your project or event and promoting it for people to use, you’ll be able to find related posts in one feed. For example: you’re planning a mortgage conference and want people to be able to snap a photo of themselves in attendance, then post it to social media. By asking them to include a hashtag – including the name of your conference and year (#MidwestMortgageConference2020) –you’ll be able to see all of the posts from attendees in one place and potentially further connect with attendees in the future.

Is there a trending hashtag related to your business or community? Utilize this hashtag to join the conversation and bring recognition to content you are creating or already have published around a topic. With all posts relevant to a hashtag pulled into one feed, you can easily respond to others and create relationships based on shared interests or topics. For example: Mortgage rates are at an all time low and #homebuying is a trending topic on Twitter. As a mortgage business or loan officer this is a great opportunity to be a part of the conversation and offer insight into how you can bring value to potential homebuyers.

SEO Influence

LinkedIn recently had an important platform update that is now changing the game for hashtags related to SEO by including the first three hashtags in a published post within the URL. This improves where you show up in a Google search related to those topics, therefore driving traffic back to your post (and ultimately website!). Using hashtags can also bolster your content visibility as they essentially act as keywords on social media platforms. If someone searches for a hashtag and finds your content to be valuable, they may share it, potentially giving you more link clicks and improving visibility. It’s important that you use hashtags that are not only relevant to your content, but also likely to be found by people searching.

Best Practices

It’s important to remember that your post should consist of content that gives context to the hashtags you’re using. A post with only hashtags will likely be confusing and won’t offer any value to your followers. It’s also good to note that using more hashtags isn’t always advantageous. It’s in your best interest to

Remember that each social media platform handles hashtags differently:

  1. Twitter, the birthplace of the hashtag, continues to place value in their use and uses them to help you learn about what’s trending on their platform. Get involved in conversations happening on the platform around trending topics by including the hashtag in your post. Click on a hashtag to find a single feed of all posts that have recently added it to their post.
  2. Instagram groups together posts that utilize the same hashtag in one image feed, showing you both recent and most popular posts. Using a hashtag on Instagram can help people discover your content and increase your following. It may also lead to content shares and profile visits, potentially increasing website traffic.
  3. LinkedIn as stated above is now allowing you to boost your SEO when you use hashtags within their platform. Knowing what hashtags people are using and searching for commonly will give you an advantage in knowing what types of content to post. LinkedIn also turns hashtags into clickable links that allow you to see a single feed of posts using the same hashtags.
  4. Using a hashtag on Facebook will provide viewers with a clickable link that takes them to more content they may be interested in. Facebook users are generally less likely to be searching for hashtags, but they still provide value in organizing content in one easy to find place.

Hashtags are not going anywhere anytime soon and can bring more depth to your social media posts when used correctly. You can start and participate in conversations, build community & event awareness, gain insight into content strategy, and improve your SEO all by adding the # in front of the keywords within your posts. With all of the benefits of hashtags, why not try including them in your next campaign strategy? Who knows, you just might end up trending!

Imagine knowing what your customers think about you. What they really think about you — the good, the bad and the ugly. Now imagine how that information would impact your marketing strategy, product development efforts and the customer service you provide.

Well, stop imagining and start listening. Social listening.

What is social listening?

Social listening is the practice of tracking social media platforms for mentions and conversations happening about your brand and industry, and then using those insights to take action.

It’s the taking action part that starts to separate social listening from its counterpart social media monitoring. While social media monitoring looks at metrics like engagement rate and number of mentions, social listening looks beyond the numbers to consider the sentiment behind the data. In other words, monitoring tells you what; listening tells you why.

Why should I be social listening?

Social listening enables you to make better decisions and provide your customers with more relevant and timely information and experiences. Consider the following opportunities.

  • Improve customer service. It’s no surprise that people use social media to share their complaints and customer service issues — often before (or instead of) contacting customer service. And, although they report complaints, ask questions and provide feedback on social media, they don’t always tag the company, making it difficult to respond. Social listening changes that by monitoring social media channels for mentions, products and keywords. Armed with that information, you can spot trends and address concerns before they become bigger issues. Simply replying to a satisfied customer or providing a solution to an unhappy one can go a long way in strengthening your reputation.
  • Understand what your customers are saying. Knowing what’s being said about your brand not only allows you to provide better customer service, but the insights can also be used to enhance your product development efforts, marketing strategy and more. Do the insights spur a new product idea? Can you tweak an existing product or add a feature to resolve the problems people are talking about? If you do, be sure to tell people about it with a targeted marketing campaign.
  • Track your competition. Social listening can also help you understand how you stack up against your competition. What’s the latest buzz about other brands in your industry? Are they launching new products and services? Creating new marketing campaigns? Dealing with customer service issues? Social listening gives you insights into these opportunities and threats in real-time so you can respond with competitive product, marketing and customer service strategies.
  • Monitor relevant industry conversations. Another way to get a leg up on the competition and remain relevant to your audience is to pick up on industry trends… before they even become trends. By monitoring hashtags or discussions within your industry, you can get a better sense of where your market is headed — excellent intel as you go into 2021 strategic planning.

How do I get started?

Getting started with social listening is easier than you might think. The first step is to decide what you want to monitor. Common places to start include your brand, product and service names; competitor brand, product and service names; industry keywords and buzzwords; and branded hashtags.

Once you know what you want to track, you will need a system that makes it easy for you to monitor the conversations and take action. To learn more about how Denim Social’s Listening can help you stay on top of online mentions with customizable alerts, monitor and respond to customer feedback, track your competition and more, contact us today.

Instagram boasts 130 million monthly active users in the U.S., and it’s one of two social media networks that has experienced the biggest uptick in usage this year. More than half of the Instagram user population is younger than 34 years old, and 60% say they discover new products on the platform.

For brands looking to connect Millennials with their products and services, Instagram is a great place to start. But where exactly do you start? You’ve come to the right place.

What are Instagram ads?

Instagram ads are photo or video posts or Stories that businesses pay to promote to targeted audiences.

While it’s important for businesses to have a presence on Instagram, sharing organic content may not be the best strategy for many organizations, including those in financial services. Organic posts tend to have low reach, and because you can’t include a hyperlink, they don’t generate click-thrus.

Instagram ads, on the other hand, feature audience targeting options and the ability to include a call-to-action button to drive traffic or conversions. They can look just like regular Instagram posts, but are always identified by a “Sponsored” label.

Who are Instagram ads delivered to?

A variety of audience targeting options make it easy to deliver your Instagram ads to the right consumer at the right time.

  • Location: Target people based in specific locations like states, cities or countries. (Denim Social takes the guesswork out of location-based targeting by delivering ads to consumers within a certain radius around advisors’ office locations.)
  • Demographics: Narrow your audience based on information like age, gender and languages.
  • Interests: Reach people based on interests like apps they use, ads they click and accounts they follow.
  • Behaviors: Define your audience by activities they do on and off of Instagram and Facebook.
  • Custom Audiences: Run ads to customers you already know based on their email addresses or phone numbers.
  • Lookalike Audiences: Find new people who are similar to your existing customers.

What are the different types of Instagram ads?

A number of different Instagram ad formats are available to meet your needs and connect with your audiences in relevant ways.

  • Stories Ads: Instagram Stories are photos and videos up to 15 seconds long that are delivered to a “Story” (published separately from the photos and videos delivered to a feed). Globally, 500 million Instagram accounts use Instagram Stories every day. Because they make full use of the mobile screen, Stories Ads are a great way to capture your audience’s attention.
  • Photo Ads: This type of ad lets you tell your story through a clean, simple image in square or landscape format, delivered to a user’s Instagram feed.
  • Video Ads: Also delivered to a user’s feed but with the added power of sight, sound and motion, video ads offer the ability to captivate your audience with a video up to 120 seconds long.
  • Carousel Ads: These ads bring another layer of depth to your ad by allowing users to swipe to view additional photos or videos in a single ad.

How do I measure the effectiveness of Instagram ads?

It’s important to measure the results of Instagram ads to refine your strategy, improve future campaigns and get the most out of your advertising spend. Exactly what you measure will depend on your campaign objective (e.g., awareness, consideration, conversion). However, below are a few important metrics to keep an eye on:

  • Reach: Understand how many people are seeing your content.
  • Clicks, likes and comments: Get a sense for how engaging your content is.
  • Engagements per follower: Track overall performance trends and the types of content that resonate with your audience. To calculate, divide total engagements by your follower count and multiply by 100.
  • Stories metrics: Learn how effective your Stories Ads are by tracking Story Replies, Story Taps Back and Forward, Story Exits and Impressions, etc.
  • Follower growth: If your advertising is effective, you should see steady growth in your Instagram follower count.

To learn how Denim Social gives you access to real-time, easy-to-understand engagement analytics and enables you to automatically optimize ads across multiple locations, sign up for a personalized demo.

“If you build it, they will come.”

While this advice may work in fictional baseball movies, it’s a bad strategy for building your Facebook business page following.

Successfully growing your page likes and follows requires ongoing attention, but it pays off. More followers indicates greater popularity and trust in your brand and also means more eyeballs on your content.

Follow these tips to start growing your following today.

1. Share meaningful content. Before posting anything on your page, make sure it provides value to your audience. When you do this consistently, your existing followers will share it with their friends, attracting more followers. As you plan your content strategy, think about the topics you can speak to with authority. Then look for gaps in the content already being shared with your audience. Where these two intersect is a great place to focus your thought leadership efforts. Another good rule of thumb is the 4-1-1 rule. It says your content plan should include four pieces of new content for every one repost and one self-serving post.

2. Be consistent. It goes without saying that consistency in voice, tone and style should be inherent in any marketing message. As you work to grow your Facebook page following, it’s also important to aim for consistency in when and how often you post content. When your content quality, quantity or schedule isn’t consistent, it can confuse your audience. Staying on a schedule will improve the experience you deliver and build your business’s credibility and reputation. Use a tool like Denim Social’s Analytics to test and monitor when engagement is at its highest, and design your content schedule accordingly.

3. Invite friends. One of the quickest, most efficient ways to start driving awareness and growing your audience is to invite your friends to follow your page. Remember, your friends have friends, and they might be interested in following your business and your new page.

4. Run ads. A surefire way to grow your following is to run Facebook ads. Ads are an effective tool for promoting your page, boosting your posts, getting more leads, increasing conversions and performing a number of other actions. Keep in mind, however, that it may not always be in your best interest to grow your following just for the sake of a bigger number. You want to attract people who are interested in your products and services (and, in turn, more likely to engage with your content). Using audience targeting strategies will help you reach the right consumer with the right message.

A Facebook business page is an easy and effective way to grow your brand awareness and credibility. Although it’s not as simple as set-it-and-forget-it, if you follow the tips outlined above, you will be well on your way to growing your Facebook fan base.

If you need help engaging your audience on social media, get in touch with us today.

Consumers now expect brands to be socially responsible, but they can sniff out phony motives from a mile away, so authenticity is a must.

Simply saying you're responsible won't be believable, and could even backfire. Done right, however, CSR storytelling will build trust.
As anyone in the banking industry knows, trust is hard to gain and easy to lose. For the industry overall, the good news is that people are trusting financial institutions more and more.

According to the “Edelman Trust Barometer 2020,” the public’s trust in financial institutions has gone up 12 points since 2012. That means it’s an opportune time to focus your marketing strategies on further building trust and boosting confidence. If you can become a name customers can rely on, you’re likely to build relationships for life.

So what makes people trust banks and credit unions? Today’s consumers expect all brands to be socially responsible and stand for issues that matter to them. In a digital and content-filled world, it’s easy enough for brands to tell their audience how much they care, but customers aren’t likely to believe it until you show them.

Storytelling on Social Can Be Challenging, But Is Worth It

People want authenticity from brands and can sniff out ulterior motives from a mile away, so it’s vital to approach corporate social responsibility from an altruistic perspective. Rather than getting into CSR for your own benefit, focus on serving your community and finding ways to embody your institution’s values. Aligning with a cause that has a real connection to your institution’s interests can go a long way in this respect. But don’t do it for praise or expect to be thanked.

One excellent example of authentic CSR storytelling is JPMorgan Chase, which has invested close to $200 million in Detroit since 2014 to help the city recover economically after the Great Recession. Chase has strategically allocated these funds to areas such as entrepreneurship loans and programs focused on minority business owners.

CEO Jamie Dimon has been closely associated with this and other CSR efforts and widely visible as a spokesperson, both in traditional media interviews as well as sharing on LinkedIn. Dimon’s accounts make his desire for real impact and financial empowerment clear.

Other financial institutions align themselves with more traditional nonprofits and causes. Edward Jones, for instance, has an alliance with the Alzheimer’s Association. As the principal responsible for the alliance said, “Edward Jones is in the business of helping families build and preserve wealth, while Alzheimer’s disease destroys the financial security and future hopes and dreams of families.”

Because the cause is true to the firm’s DNA, it offers the opportunity for meaningful and authentic storytelling about an important issue.

How to Tell Your True CSR Story on Social Media

Social media should be an important piece of a fuller picture when it comes to sharing your institution’s CSR initiatives. Earned media, newsletters, and in-brand signage are also effective ways to communicate your dedication to social responsibility, but social media allows you to take the story one step further.

On social, a bank or credit union can highlight authenticity, get in front of more customers, and create the opportunity for dialogue with your audience. Here’s how to tie your CSR initiatives to your social strategy and tell an effective story:

CSR storytelling needs to be part of your social strategy. A one-off post here and there won’t do the trick.
  1. Make CSR a marketing priority. For CSR storytelling to have a real impact, it needs to be a central part of your social strategy. A one-off post here and there won’t do the trick. Leadership teams need to align with marketing teams to ensure total buy-in and collaboration across the board.

    If you need to prove the need for a shift in focus to a CSR-heavy strategy, a great place to start is by pulling past engagement data to share. If your bank or credit union has ever shared community-oriented posts on social media, you’re likely to see that these posts garnered the highest engagement rates. People want to see how you’re making a difference in their community.
  2. Break down barriers. There might be internal silos that are keeping social media managers from connecting with leaders. Collaboration between departments will be essential, as financial marketers need a full view of CSR initiatives to tell accurate, authentic stories. Forge the internal relationships that matter most to your CSR and social media efforts.

    One way to do this is to bring the marketing team into the conversation much earlier. They should be part of leadership team meetings where CSR strategy is discussed. When you engage in CSR activities, have a member of the marketing department there to take pictures and get quotes. Digital tools can help streamline information sharing and content review processes.
  3. Think like a publisher. While other financial institutions are posting “big check” photos, take the opportunity to differentiate yourself and get creative. Look for opportunities to capture dynamic images at CSR events. Uncover stories and narratives about why your bank’s efforts are important. Tell the story about why you’re doing what you’re doing.

This article was originally published on the Financial Brand

Social media can be pretty intimidating for some people—especially those who tend to shun the spotlight and avoid self-promotion.

That being said, there’s no denying that social platforms can and do allow individuals to build personal brands that afford them greater professional opportunities.

Having a robust social media presence is an asset to your long-term career growth. In a survey by recruitment platform Tallo, 87% of Gen Z respondents saw the career significance of online personal branding. These competitive young workers and employees-to-be are making it imperative for candidates of any age to up their personal branding game online.

No matter what career stage you’re in, you can use social media to your advantage to improve your personal brand. Here are three strategies that will help.

1. Look beyond LinkedIn

Most people assume that when it comes to career growth, the only social media platform worth spending time on is LinkedIn. This is a myth. While anyone who knows me has heard me tout LinkedIn as a crucial starting point (with over half a billion users worldwide!) there is real power in supplementing it—as long as your image and messaging remain consistent across all platforms and your goals are tailored to what each one does best. For instance, LinkedIn is indeed essential for delivering your digital first impression and expanding your professional network, but Twitter is ideal for sharing content you’ve published and starting a discussion. Should you have a professional presence on every major social platform? It depends on what you’re trying to accomplish.

Brian Freeman, CEO and founder of microinfluencer platform Heartbeat, believes it’s a mistake to overlook newer, trendy platforms like TikTok if you want to bulk up your audience.

TikTok makes it easier than any other platform to go viral and gain a new following, then pass that following on to other social media platforms where you have a presence,” he says. “Whether it’s Instagram, Twitch, Twitter, or YouTube, you can go viral on TikTok and gain thousands of new followers on a second platform at the same time.”

Most social media users are active on multiple platforms. When someone decides to follow you on one, follow them back—and then follow them on a different app to win their views across social.

2. Publicize your expertise

“Thought leadership” is a term often used in the content marketing world to describe content produced by company executives aiming to position themselves as experts in an industry or topic area. It can take myriad forms, but its goal is always to reinforce the credibility of the brands (personal and corporate) that produce and byline it—and it’s typically quite effective. Good news: It can work for you, too.

While publicists pitch the media, asking journalists to write about their clients, thought leadership lets you become the author of that coverage, not just by publishing your content in traditional outlets but also by publishing it through social media. If you’re an expert at something, let the world know by sharing your knowledge and ideas. Speaking at conferences, serving on boards and interacting with journalists and other influencers in your field of expertise will of course allow you to learn from and teach others, and it will also get you acquainted with people who might be able to help you achieve personal and professional goals. But taking a proactive approach to sharing your expertise on social media shows the world that you’re open to professional interaction and eager to answer questions. Engage in group discussions, provide thoughtful commentary on relevant posts and make an effort to introduce others to helpful resources, and you’ll be surprised by the opportunities that come your way.

3. Advocate for your organization

You’re serious about your career, so you want to be taken seriously—whether that’s at your current company or at the one you aspire to join. Your social accounts, when consistently and professionally branded, provide a platform for your company or college to get some free PR, which can help with both sales and recruiting on their end. Plus, by painting your colleagues and cohorts in a positive light, you’ll cement your image as a team player who cares about your organization’s future. That’s something every employer wants to see.

Doug Wilber, CEO of Gremlin Social (now Denim Social), a social media solution for banks, understands the power of social selling (branded content posted on employee accounts).

“When employees share their positive work experience on their personal accounts, they become powerful recruiting tools that can draw in potential candidates and increase employee retention,” he says.

In turn, employees also benefit from brand advocacy. When you have a credible personal brand online, your words carry more weight with potential customers and other external contacts, meaning you’ll likely have more success in your day-to-day role.

Social media scrolling doesn’t have to be mindless or unproductive. In fact, social platforms give you a way to create and seize opportunities that would have been off-limits just a decade ago. Start with the three strategies above, and you’ll be amazed to see how far your personal brand can reach.

This article was originally published on Forbes on April 7, 2020.


How to Structure a Bank Marketing Department

Which roles do you fill when building your bank's marketing dream team? This guide will show you the following:

  • Who does what
  • The right structure to execute strategy
  • How compliance software can help


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Download this guidebook to learn how marketers are using social media to:

  • Drive business with the lowest digital spend compared to traditional media
  • Position employees as thought-leaders while leveraging their collective reach of their social media presence
  • Ultimately, build trust with their communities and customers that translates to positive business results

Every Mortgage Marketer Should Ask Themselves

Compliance is complicated, but don’t let it stop your lending team from making the most of social media. Think you’re ready to start social selling? Ask yourself these five questions!

Stronger Customer Relationships on Instagram

Financial Services companies should be advertising on Instagram. We break down why, and help you create a strategy to reach new customers- while continuing to build trust in your brand.

Download this guidebook to learn how marketers are using social media to:

  • Drive business with the lowest digital spend compared to traditional media
  • Position employees as thought-leaders while leveraging their collective reach of their social media presence
  • Ultimately, build trust with their communities and customers that translates to positive business results

ABA Study: The Current State of Social Media

See what nearly 430 bank marketers had to say when asked questions such as:

  • Is it important to equip your sales personnel with social media accounts?
  • Does your bank measure the impact of your social media use?
  • Download this guidebook to learn how 3 mortgage lenders are using social media to:

    • Position themselves in a place the community is already looking ... their social media
    • Empower loan officers to engage in local conversations
    • Turn their institution's loan officers into the voice of their brand
    • Build trust within the community

    Which roles do you fill when building your bank's marketing dream team? This guide will show you the following:

    • Who does what
    • The right structure to execute strategy
    • How compliance software can help


    How 6 Financial Marketers Are Creating Value in Social Media

    Ever wonder what everyone else is doing in social media? We talked to six leading financial marketers about how they’re succeeding today and planning for the next big thing.

    Get their insights on strengthening your social strategies, unlocking the power of employee networks and creating next-level content that drives engagement.

    COVID-19 & Bank Social Media

    Times are different and how you connect with customers and potential customers has changed drastically. In a socially distant world, learn to still build lasting relationships.

    Download and learn the guiding principles for using social media to serve both your customers and communities in the midst of a pandemic.

    Read this guide if you’re asking yourself:

    • Is my social media policy current and comprehensive?
    • How do I ensure social media compliance during M&A?
    • What do I need to consider for direct messaging compliance?

    In this guide we will help you think about your all important social media policy and thoughtfully consider how changes in social media tech and even your bank’s structure may impact compliance.

    Download this guidebook to learn how marketers are using social media to:

    • Drive business with the lowest digital spend compared to traditional media
    • Position employees as thought-leaders while leveraging their collective reach of their social media presence
    • Ultimately, build trust with their communities and customers that translates to positive business results

    Every Financial Services Marketer Should Ask Themselves

    Compliance is complicated, but don’t let it stop your lending team from making the most of social media. Think you’re ready to start social selling? Ask yourself these five questions!



    How to Structure a Bank Marketing Department

    Which roles do you fill when building your bank's marketing dream team? This guide will show you the following:

    • Who does what
    • The right structure to execute strategy
    • How compliance software can help



    ST. LOUIS, Missouri (September 29, 2020)Denim Social, a social media management tool compliantly scaling the publishing, paid advertising, and landing page experience for financial services, was recently named to the list of “2021 Best Tech Startups in St. Louis” by The Tech Tribune.

    The Tech Tribune took four factors into consideration when creating their list including revenue potential, leadership team, brand/product tractions, and competitive landscape. They also stated that all companies must be independent (un-acquired), privately owned, at most 10 years old, and have received at least one round of funding in order to qualify.

    “We are excited to be recognized by The Tech Tribune as one of the best tech startups in our local community of St. Louis. At Denim Social we are working to humanize the social media experience at scale for financial services by providing solutions for brands, branch locations and advisors from one highly intuitive platform. We are in great company with the other companies recognized and it’s an honor to be included in this list,” said Doug Wilber, CEO of Denim Social.

    We’ve Raised $4 Million in Series A Funding to Fuel Growth

    Today, we have important and exciting news to share. St. Louis-based Gremlin Social and Des Moines-based Denim have merged to form a new company called Denim Social.

    Denim Social empowers marketers in regulated industries to build stronger customer relationships on social media with tools that manage organic content and paid advertising in one platform.

    Denim Social provides social media management and marketing automation software built to meet the needs of regulated industries including banking, insurance, mortgage and wealth management. The merger brings together our complementary product offerings and provides a significant market opportunity in both insurance and financial services.

    During times like today, it’s more important than ever for brands to use social media to build deeper, more meaningful relationships with consumers and their communities. But we also recognize that compliance remains a significant barrier in many regulated industries. By merging our technology and expertise, we are providing an industry-leading, all-in-one solution.

    Our platform is the only social media management software that humanizes the social media experience at scale by providing solutions for brands, branch locations and advisors from one highly intuitive platform. Additionally, we’re proud to maintain the exclusive social media management endorsement from the American Bankers Association.

    New Funding to Drive Growth

    We’re equally excited to announce that we’ve raised our largest investment round to date – a $4 million Series A. Led by St. Louis-based Hermann Companies, the new funding will allow us to scale faster, enhance and expand our product offering and grow market share.

    As part of the Series A raise, Rick Holton, Jr. is joining our Board of Directors. Rick has a proven track record of scaling business-to-business fintech solutions and has a unique skill set that will help us develop a more robust digital engagement platform.

    Soon, we’ll share more details about enhancing our product capabilities for social media publishing, listening, analytics, compliance and team management. And, we look forward to delivering new and amazing products for our customers and partners.

    Culture and Teams

    When we began talking about merging our businesses, two of the most important elements of the conversation were focused on our company cultures and team members. We’re extremely excited that all of our team members have made the transition to Denim Social. Doug serves as our CEO, Gregory serves as president and chief product officer and Josh Dennis is our chief technology officer.

    Our company now consists of more than 20 dedicated team members across St. Louis, Des Moines and Birmingham. Like many of you, we’re currently working remotely and looking for more team members to do the same. And, in the coming days, we’re excited to post several new job openings across engineering, marketing, sales and customer success.



    How to Structure a Bank Marketing Department

    Which roles do you fill when building your bank's marketing dream team? This guide will show you the following:

    • Who does what
    • The right structure to execute strategy
    • How compliance software can help



    When insurance companies incorporate individual agents into their social media strategies, they engage in a tactic known as social selling. It’s a winning strategy that can expand the brand’s reach exponentially, but agents and marketers need to stay connected to pull it off successfully.

    A solid, well-rounded social media strategy requires the specific expertise of both agents and marketers: Agents know their communities better than any marketer ever could. It’s their job to build relationships with clients and to know what’s happening in their networks. But marketers hold the expertise in digital content creation and social media advertising.

    The challenge in bringing these points of expertise together lies in scalability. Even at the biggest insurance companies, a limited number of marketing experts must oversee the individual social media activity of many agents. So how can insurance companies bridge that gap? Technology is a big part of the answer. Here are a few ways the right tools allow insurance marketers and agents to combine their expertise and enable successful social selling strategies at scale.

    1. Automated approval workflows

    Social media management software can automate processes to streamline the production and approval of social media content. With just the click of a button, agents can send posts to the right person for approval. Marketing teams can rest easy knowing no agents’ posts will slip through the cracks without proper sign-off, and agents can create content and participate actively in their social media strategies with the knowledge that appropriate parties have seen the posts before they go live.

    2. Pre-approved content

    Marketers can also make posting easier on agents by creating shareable content for them. The same social media software that automates workflows can also house pre-approved posts in a digital library where agents can access relevant content to share with their networks with ease. To ensure the content is relevant, marketers should connect with agents regularly to gather insights about what kinds of information their audiences want and need.

    3. Paid campaign management

    Along with maintaining oversight of agents’ organic social media activity, marketers can also use the software to easily manage and optimize paid social media campaigns for individual agents. When marketers put money behind agents’ social media efforts in paid advertising campaigns, they can target each ad to land with exactly the right demographic. Agents will know their messages are reaching the intended personas, and marketers will know their time, effort, and advertising spend isn’t wasted on the wrong audience.

    4. Tailored landing pages

    While likes or comments on agents’ social media posts might be a good indicator of how their networks are engaging with content, the real return is only measured by how many prospects convert into clients. For agents, the first step is catching their audiences’ attention on social media, but then they can bring prospects closer to converting with the help of landing pages. Marketing teams can create customized landing pages focused on specific products or services on the company’s website. Essentially, if an agent’s connection finds their social media post or ad interesting, they can follow the link back to the landing page to get more information specifically around the point that caught their attention.

    Ultimately, a comprehensive and effective social media strategy for insurance companies takes the work and expertise of both marketing departments and agents. And this work shouldn’t happen in silos. Instead, marketers and agents can utilize tools and technology to connect around content and create impactful, targeted campaigns that will deliver a significant return on investment.

    After months of negotiation, Congress has enacted a third round stimulus package, including $284 billion for small businesses through the Payment Protection Program (PPP). There are key changes to the rollout that bank marketers need to be aware of, namely, the program opens early -- January 11 -- for small community institutions in the hopes of serving more minority- and woman-owned businesses than past rounds. Wide-reaching applications open on January 13. 

    Marketers at early-access community institutions need to jump on their strategies and not waste a moment. Social media is not only the easiest channel to activate quickly, it offers marketers the tools to reach and engage the communities that need stimulus most. As you consider marketing strategies for this week, keep these key points in mind. 

    Social Media Marketing is Fast: Your institution may still be wrestling with flashbacks to the PPP chaos of last spring, but we all certainly learned that this program moves FAST. Social media offers marketers the opportunity to create and execute marketing campaigns more quickly than any other channel. Create and post organic content in minutes. With the right software, compliance review and approvals can go just as quickly. 

    Social Media Market Reaches Communities in Need: Institutions not only need to post to brand channels, they need to leverage employee social media channels to reach underbanked communities. Social media can provide individual bank associates with an accessible, non-exclusionary platform to educate small business owners about PPP availability. Importantly, employee social media reaches more people than brand channels alone. 

    Social Media Builds Trust: With a rocky history of discrimination and notable criticisms in the first round of stimulus, banks need to be purposeful about building trust this time around. Employee social media can help build trust by engaging one-on-one and humanizing your brand. Simply put, humans trust other humans more than brands, and your institution’s employees can help build lost trust (and in short order) on social media. 

    This stimulus will be a long-awaited lifeline for cherished and vital small businesses in communities nationwide. Bank marketers need to move swiftly to promote the early access period and social media can help institutions serve those most in need.

    COVID-19 has impacted many areas of property-casualty insurance, but perhaps the most challenging is that it has fundamentally changed the way agents must meet and engage with prospects. Social distancing and stay-at-home mandates mean in-person meetings are largely off the table.

    At the same time, the pandemic is creating widespread economic uncertainty for customers. Many are looking for ways to cut costs, and revisiting their property-casualty insurance needs could very well be one of them. In fact, a June 2020 survey by PwC revealed that 32% of customers plan to look for different insurance providers in order to save money.

    Property-casualty is a relationship-based business, but COVID-19 has limited the way agents can build and maintain relationships. To keep customers on board, insurance companies must enable agents to adapt quickly to a new virtual world. Give them the tools and technology they need to prove their value to customers by maintaining meaningful human connections online.

    The Digital Shift Presents Pressing Challenges

    Many companies in the property-casualty insurance sector have already built a solid foundation for the digital shift. Large insurance companies have been eager adopters of consumer-facing and data-driven technologies that enable claims, pricing, and the like. In this way, they are more advanced than many financial services providers. This means there is internal, corporate buy-in for the role of technology, which makes rolling those technology solutions out to employees a more direct path.

    Still, McKinsey reports that 90% of agents were conducting sales conversations face to face before the pandemic. Maintaining that level of connection has been challenging: Nearly half of the surveyed agents said that building new client relationships virtually has, in fact, been their biggest challenge to date. And as if entirely changing the way they must reach customers wasn’t enough already, agents are also fielding more customer queries as customers figure out their insurance needs during a global pandemic.

    How Property-Casualty Companies Can Activate Agents on Social Media

    Property-casualty insurance companies that enable their agents to quickly and efficiently engage customers and prospects with helpful, meaningful human connections stand to maintain a competitive advantage during COVID-19. While the precise tactics will vary from business to business, the following are often the best places to start:

    1. Enable social selling.

    Your customers want human connections that go deeper than what the company at large can offer. When companies engage with customers online through a brand account, the interactions seem much less personal without an individual human face behind the message. People trust people more than brandsso enabling your agents to engage with customers from their own social media accounts can go a long way toward building more meaningful relationships.

    Activating your agents on social media can also increase the number of people your brand reaches exponentially. Employees have far more connections — about 10 times more, according to LinkedIn — than companies have followers. Agents can have more touchpoints with more meaning behind them than brands can on their own.

    2. Support technology shifts from the top down.

    Most agents have relied on face-to-face interactions with their clients up until this point, so it’s understandable that some might be reluctant to jump into using social media as a primary way to build relationships. You can make the transition easier on them by providing social media management tools to make putting social media strategies to work a smooth and frictionless process.

    As you carry out digital and social marketing initiatives at the company level, use what you learn to help your agents with their individual social media strategies. Find out which social media tools and technologies work best for your company, and share these with your agents to make maintaining an active presence on social media easier.

    For example, agents might fear overstepping important compliance regulations on social media and landing the company in regulatory hot water. Social media management software can streamline approvals processes to ensure that every share, post, and engagement passes through the right workflow to ensure compliance and alignment with any other brand guidelines.

    Build a social media policy and hold training sessions to help agents easily understand tools, compliance, brand messaging guidelines, and the other ins and outs of engaging with customers and prospects on social media.

    3. Fire up targeted social advertising.

    A May 2020 Harris Poll found that up to 51% of adults use social media more now than they did before the pandemic. This makes it the perfect time for insurance companies to support agents with targeted social media advertising. You know your customers and prospects are online — you just have to figure out when, where, and how to reach them directly. Modern technology can help.

    Marketing teams should invest in the tools to execute paid social media campaigns at scale, ensuring agents’ posts are reaching target audiences with the right interests in the right locations to make every message land with the biggest possible impact. Meanwhile, you’ll be making the most of your marketing budget.

    4. Activate direct messaging.

    With changes in the industry happening almost daily, staying in touch with customers has never been more important. And what’s the best method? Direct messaging — as it enables personalized engagement and more human connections when you can’t meet in person.

    But this tool isn’t about messaging strangers in salesy or spammy ways. It’s more about building trust over a period of time. Encourage your agents to share relevant content, take part in actual conversations, and respond to questions and concerns in a timely manner through direct messaging.

    Life will look much different after this pandemic. The ways we have adapted won’t be quick to fade, and many of our new habits will remain steadfast. Digital connection is likely to be one of them. The rapid acceleration of technology during COVID-19 has certainly been a challenge for property-casualty insurance companies, but those that invest in it now will benefit long into the future. Take this as an opportunity to fire up social media like never before.

    As the pandemic has necessitated social distancing and limited face-to-face interaction, social media has gone from a nice addition to an essential piece of any brand’s marketing strategy. However, as social media platforms are constantly updating their algorithms, it’s time for brands of all stripes to reassess their approaches to digital connection.

    Creating and sharing great content is no longer enough to cut through the crowd and get in front of your target audience. Platforms have altered their algorithms to limit the visibility of posts from brands. For example, a 2019 Facebook update led to the average reach dropping by 2.2% for posts. This small percentage sounds insignificant until you consider that, for most brands, this meant posts were being seen by only 5.5% of their followers.

    Today, you need to put money behind your social strategy to ensure your brand’s reach. Luckily, paid social media advertising is still a low-cost approach to marketing, especially considering the high return on investment. Paid social ads allow you to land each message with exactly the right demographic in exactly the right place at exactly the right time.

    Still, any financial services institution can run a paid social media campaign. So how do you stay competitive and cut through the noise to set yourself apart? The answer lies in the very foundation of the financial services industry: trust and relationships. You need to maintain an element of true human touch behind each paid advertisement to foster the growth of these things with prospects and clients. Here’s how to humanize your approach for a stronger paid social strategy.

    1. Start by activating your advisors on social media if you haven’t already.

    In a recent Edelman survey, 70% of consumers said they consider trusting a brand more important today than in the past. It’s essential to reevaluate your social strategy and make sure each connection point is one that inspires trust.

    The best way to do this is to bring your individual brand associates into the mix. When brands simply share promotional content on company pages, it doesn’t do much to inspire real connection. Instead, advisors should be using social media professionally to reach their prospects and clients. People seek out human connection naturally, and consumers trust individual people more than companies and brands. What’s more, employee posts tend to reach much further and garner more engagement than brand posts.

    You’ll want to invest in paid social advertising for individual agents sooner rather than later, but agents must begin posting organically first. When they share educational, informational content and engage with their networks, they’ll become known as a trusted resource, which can only help paid efforts have an even stronger impact. So start by giving employees what they need to build a strong social presence organically. Train them on your social media policy, ensure they have all the necessary permissions to post and engage, and create a library of engaging and approved posts they can share frequently.

    2. Personalize your ads with individual advisors.

    Now, it’s time to put some marketing dollars behind your social strategy and get your advisors front and center. A paid social media campaign can help you elevate and scale social selling by creating different versions of personalized ads, then targeting them directly to the people and proximity an individual advisor serves.

    This is a much more efficient strategy than advisors simply sharing one post on every channel and hoping to reach the right person. Paid campaigns allow for a more targeted, tailored approach that delivers the customization audiences want and expect. In fact, one survey found that 80% of consumers would be more likely to do business with a brand that provided personalized experiences. And when audiences see relevant ads tied to human faces, it sets the stage for a meaningful connection point and trusting relationship down the line.

    3. Maintain control and scale with the right software.

    Of course, managing paid campaigns and overseeing agents’ social media activity is a lot for marketing teams to handle. If brands want impactful, humanized approaches to marketing, then marketers need the time and space to think deeply about their audiences and content. Luckily, social media software exists to help marketers manage the complexities and logistics behind campaigns and free up more time for strategizing.

    Social media software also ensures all messaging remains compliant while still providing the personalization capabilities necessary to connect with today’s consumers. With streamlined approval workflows, you’re easily able to maintain your brand’s voice across multiple accounts at scale.

    Personal connections matter more now than ever. And with trust in financial services on the decline, you need every resource possible to establish and strengthen relationships between the brand and the prospect. Social selling is key, but organically posting is no longer enough. Put some money behind your strategy, leverage your advisors, personalize your messaging, and lean on technology to help you do it at scale. The returns will be well worth the effort and investment.

    Where do financial advisers add value for investors?

    Relationships — including trust and personal connection — account for 72% of financial advisers’ perceived value, according a recent Vanguard investor survey. The remaining 28% investors attribute to the actual services advisers provide, such as creating financial plans and maximizing investment returns.

    This research emphasizes what many in the industry already know: Client relationships are the foundation of financial advising.

    It’s no wonder then that advisers haven’t adopted technology at the same pace as other professions. There’s a fear that digital connection can’t facilitate the same level of personal, trusting relationships as face-to-face meetings.

    But that fear is misplaced: With the right strategies, it can, and in the age of COVID-19, it simply must. In-person meetings are no longer safe options for connecting with prospects or clients, so technology is imperative for advisers who want to continue to grow their practices during this pandemic and beyond.

    Where Technology Fits in the Client–Adviser Relationship

    Technology is the only avenue to build trust and human connection when you can’t see clients face to face. Moreover, your prospects expect it in your business. Among surveyed consumers, 95% think it’s important that advisers be tech savvy, and up to 96% said they want their advisers to use technology-based tools. But respondents weren’t interested in tech-only solutions: 88% said technology should complement, not replace, human financial advisory services.

    Even before the pandemic disrupted life as we know it, clients wanted a tech-enabled experience, but still valued the human touch.

    The following strategies can help you leverage technology to bolster meaningful connections and, in turn, build trust with prospective clients:

    1. Start meeting clients and prospects where they are: on social media.

    With traditional in-person outreach techniques off the table for the foreseeable future, you have to change how you meet and engage with clients. This means connecting with clients and prospects on social media.

    Proactive relationship-building is easy on platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn. It’s all about finding and messaging the right people in the right way. Social media helps you create trust and build relationships, but your influence depends more on your personal interactions with clients than on those of your advisory firm. After all, those financial advisers with networks 10-times larger than their employer’s follower list can generate twice the click-through rates (CTRs) as a brand’s when sharing social media content.

    2. Share relevant content that establishes your credibility.

    Use your social media channels to educate prospective clients about financial concerns that relate to them personally. That will not only help you establish trust and connection, but also demonstrate to your network that you’re an expert source of financial information.

    Social media search functions can help you determine what type of information to share with whom. For example, if you’re interested in helping young adults build their investment strategies, you could search for recent college graduates on LinkedIn and think about the questions that someone in this demographic might ask to inform what you disseminate.

    Whatever content you share, just make sure it feels like a genuine attempt to help. A sales pitch that highlights your products and services won’t do anything to establish a trusting relationship. Instead, stay up to date on your connections, follow them on social media, and apply that information to personalize messaging. For example, if you see one of your new connections has just purchased a home, you can send a congratulatory message along with a few pieces of financial advice for first-time homeowners.

    3. Invest in paid social outreach.

    As you become more adept at social media, you can level up your outreach by investing in strategic paid social advertising. Organic posts help build credibility and trust, but sometimes they aren’t enough. To reach the right prospective clients at the right time at scale, targeted paid social ads may be necessary.

    These paid social ads should complement the informative and educational messages you share with your audience. They should help build your reputation as a financial thought leader and raise awareness about your practice to your targeted audience.

    Be deliberate and precise. Money is no substitute for thoughtful targeting and messaging. For return on investment, you must be strategic about how you distribute your paid social. Social media management software can help you find the best placements for each ad and optimize its reach.

    Financial advisers might have once shied away from integrating technology solutions into their practices. But forgoing digital tools altogether is no longer an option. The right technologies and digital outreach strategies can help you reimagine how you reach and engage clients in a virtual world.

    This article was originally published on Enterprising Investor.

    Social media is an excellent listening tool in the insurance industry. When agents pay close attention to their connections, they’ll see when people reach important life milestones like having children or becoming homeowners. Such milestones can present valuable opportunities. After all, major events are a significant driver of purchasing behavior in consumers’ lives. For example, research shows 43% of consumers rethink insurance coverage after having kids, while 35% revisit the idea upon buying a home.

    The opportunity, however, is not a one-time sell. Instead, it’s for agents to connect with consumers and build trust that can pay dividends over time. As insurance companies guide agents in how they use social media to engage with clients and grow their networks, they should consider the following steps to ensure life moments become trust-building touchpoints that help form meaningful connections:

    1. Activate agents on social media if they’re not already there.

    Encourage agents to start building inroads with their networks on social media today, so they don’t appear inauthentic reaching out when big moments happen down the line. If they’ve already been sharing helpful information about insurance on their social media profiles and engaging with their networks, then reaching out to congratulate people on big milestones will seem less like an attempt to make a sale and more like genuine interest and excitement in that person’s life. And when agents share branded content on their individual pages, it can increase the brand’s reach exponentially and put a human face behind the company name.

    2. Position agents as experts in the field with educational content.

    Agents today are busier than ever, so you want to make social media as easy for them to use as possible. Create important, relevant information for them to share with their networks and schedule it into a content calendar, so agents can easily get in front of their audiences consistently.

    The content should align with what agents learn about their connections on social media. For example, if their demographic is young adults, and they see many of their connections this age are buying homes, create educational content around homeowners insurance for them to share. This shows their networks that they’re experts in the field and that they have valuable insights to offer. It also creates opportunities for customers to engage, which can create touchpoints that will lay the foundation for building trust.

    3. Leverage paid advertising strategically.

    Having an organic social media presence is a vital first step to reaching clients, but in order to get agents’ messages in front of precisely the right people at the right time, paid social advertising is the ticket. And with 51% of adults now using social media more than they did pre-pandemic, it’s the best time to dive in and support your agents by boosting their social efforts. With the right software, you can target big life events and create relevant, agent-specific, localized ads at scale to reach and resonate with the right audiences.

    Social media offers valuable visibility into key moments that drive insurance purchases, but if agents and insurance companies don’t leverage that information strategically, they’ll come off as inauthentic and uncaring. Instead, insurance companies can help agents create humanizing social media strategies that build trust over time. Then, when a major life milestone spurs a connection to rethink their insurance needs, they’ll already have a trusted agent in mind.

    The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been profound, reaching far beyond the spread of the virus itself.  COVID-related layoffs disrupted the steady income of millions of Americans and caused unemployment to reach historic rates. Many families are facing tough financial questions they are not sure how to answer.

    Unfortunately, financial literacy rates remain startlingly low. In a  2019 poll of 2,017 American adults, 10 percent said they were not confident in the last significant financial decision they made. When a  2020 survey asked over 1,000 American adults who they turn to for trusted financial advice, almost 25 percent said they had no one to turn to. Providing financial education has always been a core purpose of banks, but the financial fallout of the pandemic has made financial literacy even more important.

    Financial professionals have an obligation to educate their customers, and with in-person meetings largely out of the question, social media is the most effective and safest way to do so. Luckily, social media-driven education already aligns with consumer preferences:  Pew Research Center reports  that more than half of U.S. adults get their news from social media, and a special coronavirus-related report from Edelman discovered that  84 percent of consumers  expect to get reliable updates from the brands they follow on social.

    Many banks are already capitalizing on this by using social media to connect with their customers and communities, but there’s still ample opportunity to provide financial education to current and prospective customers. Here are three tips:

    1. Curate relevant and trustworthy news

    Social media is flooded with misinformation and misleading data, and your audience members know this. To become a trusted source, be highly selective in choosing accurate, useful and relevant news to post on your branded social media pages. You can take several steps to ensure that the information you share comes from trusted sources before distributing it to your followers.

    Established news organizations, such as CNBC and ABC News, seem easy enough to identify, but be wary of illegitimate sites trying to mimic them. The source’s domain and URL will help you identify whether the reference is credible. For instance, sites with URLs that end in “” might be cause for concern. If you’re still unsure, investigate the site further for more information. The “About” page should provide plenty of verifiable information about the organization’s staff and leadership team. If you’re still unsure, choose another source.

    It’s also important to be aware of news bias and how it impacts your ability to build a healthy news diet that protects your brand reputation. Seek out resources (like this one) that help visualize where certain media outlets fall on the political spectrum. Armed with this information, you can help your bank’s brand avoid bias. You can also be sure you’re not resharing information that’s deceiving, one-sided, or untrustworthy.

    2. Emphasize your team’s thought leadership

    Credible news updates draw in social media users searching for financial news, but rather than simply sharing links, weave in original insights to make the information more digestible and jargon-free. Remember: Your employees are financial experts, so empower them to share their knowledge through a  strong social selling strategy.

    In doing so, you’ll not only educate your followers, but also humanize your brand and build trust with your audience. After all, people trust people more than brands, and research bears this out:  Nearly three-fourths  of social media users say they are more heavily persuaded by posts shared from employees rather than brand pages. Engage team members to share their knowledge in original content like blog posts, social media posts and short videos.

    3. Be engaged

    Social media is a two-way communication channel. A survey by The Manifest revealed that  74 percent of consumers follow brands  on social media, and of that group, 96 percent said they directly interact with those brands. To make the most of your social media presence, your team needs to be engaged and respond to questions, comments and concerns in a timely manner. Stay connected with your followers and you’ll build stronger, more meaningful relationships within your community in the long term.

    In the age of COVID-19, financial literacy has become an acute need. By using social media to educate current and prospective customers, banks can improve financial literacy, be a good steward for their customers and serve as a trusted source of information.

    Connecting with customers and prospects on social media is a natural extension of the insurance industry becoming more digital. Consumers expect the businesses they patronize to be on the same social platforms they use — and they expect those brands to be ready to interact with them. Case in point: A 2019 survey of over 500 social media users found that nearly three-quarters follow organizations on social platforms, and the vast majority of them interact with those brands on social.

    Social media is the perfect tool for insurance companies to build brand awareness, meet the demand for greater digital engagement, and recruit prospective customers, especially when younger audiences rely so heavily on word-of-mouth referrals when shopping for insurance. In an era of social distancing — when in-person meetings are largely off the table — social media is also one of the safest ways to engage customers and prospects, but that doesn’t mean there are no risks involved.

    Confused about compliance? Download our resource about compliance questions for financial service marketers.

    Representatives dealing with annuity products, for instance, must follow FINRA communications rules when engaging in social selling; otherwise, they could face massive fines. Other markets, such as property-casualty, aren’t as strictly regulated, but agents may run into state licensing problems when it comes to paid social advertising. Regardless of which insurance market you operate in, most companies can benefit from these tips:

    1. Start with a social selling strategy.

    There are few limits to how you can connect with customers and prospects on social media, but it needs to be about more than posts from a brand page. Direct messaging is always an option for private communication, but to reach more people at scale, agents should also be posting original content, resharing educational articles, responding to comments and questions, and liking others’ posts. With so many options, it’s important for marketers to craft a social selling strategy that guides agents in their social interactions on behalf of the company.

    Download “The Social Selling Playbook” for more information!

    A well-thought-out strategy can ensure agents’ social selling efforts are more effective. For instance, rather than posting on channels at random and hoping for the best, agents can determine which social media platforms suit them best based on audience engagement and follower counts; then they can focus their efforts there. Consider also equipping agents with a library of branded content they can mix in with their personal posts. This strategy will inform your all-important social media policy moving forward.

    2. Turn your strategy into a detailed policy.

    In heavily regulated insurance markets, FINRA requires firms to have a comprehensive social media policy. Less regulated markets, like property-casualty, don’t need a policy to appease a regulatory body, but it’s still a good idea to package your brand messaging in a detailed policy to help ensure consistency when agents post on your behalf.

    Take the plan you mapped out in your strategy and turn it into a documented policy that agents can access easily. Social media and the way people use it continues to evolve, which is why your social media policy should always be a work in progress. Make updates periodically to account for shifts in your approval workflow, changes in messaging, and general social media best practices. As agents become savvier at social selling, your policy will grow more detailed.

    3. Make training an ongoing effort.

    Agents who are new to social media will require initial training — but it shouldn’t be a one-and-done initiative. Hold regular social selling workshops to keep all agents up to date on your social media policy and messaging.

    You can also use workshop time to walk agents through any tools you invest in to fuel social media efforts. Denim Social, for example, offers live product demos you can share with agents to show them how to use the technology and get the most benefit.

    Demonstrate how the software streamlines the approval process for agents’ posts and automatically archives them for future reference. If your agents are using paid social (hint: they should be!), show them how to geofence paid social ads to avoid stepping out of their licensed jurisdiction. The more they know, the more comfortable they’ll be using such tools to facilitate social selling efforts. The great news is, our customer success team is here to help get your team trained and ready.

    Social media opens up a world of opportunity for insurance agents to reach and engage customers and prospects, but that doesn’t mean you should set agents free to do as they please. With the right strategy and social media management software, insurance companies can make it a lot easier to avoid mistakes and create a successful social selling strategy. Want to see how Denim Social can help your agents up their social media game? Schedule a demo today!

    If your bank has ever wondered if the reward is worth the risk on social media, this is the podcast for you. Denim Social CEO, Doug Wilber, joined the American Bankers Association Risk & Compliance Conference to discuss the social media opportunity for banks and how compliant social selling can help banks strengthen relationships with their customers, reach their communities and close more deals.

    Click to listen and learn more.

    For insurance marketers, figuring out how to connect to digital natives is a must. Millennials make up the largest group of homebuyers today, and as many members of the generation begin to expand their families, their insurance needs will continue to grow. Insurance marketers need to propel the next phase of business by connecting with younger customers.

    Connecting with this generation, however, requires a new approach. Millennials want the same prompt, courteous service as previous generations — but they want it digitally and with a layer of personalization that demonstrates a clear understanding of their needs. Certainly, insurance marketers have increasingly been embracing data and tech innovation to help identify those needs. However, what will truly help an insurance company stand out as a trustworthy, valuable partner is the effective translation of the agent-customer relationship onto digital channels.

    Millennials still care about relationships, but they want to build them on their own terms — and that means digitally, on social media. These three strategies can help insurance companies build strong, trusting relationships with Millennials on the channels they use the most:

    1. Build trust over promotion.

    There’s still a trust deficit in financial services. When consumers see big insurance carriers posting content on social channels, it’s easy for them to actively ignore the messaging — writing it off as just another online ad. Insurance marketers should strive to restore the human element of relationship-building on social media by giving a name and face to their brand to humanize the message.

    Marketing departments can arm agents with the tools they need to easily and compliantly share personalized messaging and correspond with customers directly on their own social media accounts. This approach, known as social selling, can help agents build trust by showing a unique understanding of their customers’ needs and engaging in helpful ways. It can also expand an insurance company’s reach, considering that a company’s employees have an average of 10 times as many social media connections as a company has followers.

    2. Encourage agents to practice social listening.

    Insurance has long been a people-first business. Traditionally, agents met customers and prospects in person to build personal relationships. With COVID-19 transitioning most businesses to a virtual setting, face-to-face interactions are limited, but younger customers still crave that personal touch. To translate that personal element online, insurance marketers can train agents on social listening and supply them with tools they need to make the process easy and efficient.

    Whereas agents may have once relied on the grapevine to hear about important life events, social media can bring such updates directly to agents’ news feeds. For example, people usually share career changes on LinkedIn and life updates, like purchasing a new home, on Facebook. This is a perfect chance for agents to congratulate people on important updates in order to build relationships. They can also use this information to determine what their audiences actually want and need from them.

    If an agent notices that many Millennials in his or her area are posting on Facebook about searching for homes, for example, it’s safe to assume they would benefit from information about home insurance options. Marketers can enable agents to use social media as a tool for staying up to date and understanding their audiences.

    3. Personalize your advertising.

    Organic social media interactions are incredibly important, but social media is uniquely suited for personalization, and social media advertising enables agents to tailor their messaging by location, interests, and even age — a critical feature with younger generations who prefer more tailored exchanges.

    Marketers can make paid social easier for agents by giving them a tool to help easily create posts and submit them for approval. Denim Social moves posts through approval workflows automatically, so agents never have to worry about missing a step and landing the brand in hot water.

    Members of the digital generation need insurance now. They’ll get it from the agents they can relate to and connect with on their own terms. Insurance companies must give agents the tools they need to meet customers where they are on social media, arm them with relatable and useful content to share, and fuel the strategy with marketing dollars to be the go-to insurance provider for Millennial customers.

    Last year, Accenture surveyed nearly 50,000 banking and insurance customers and discovered that 73% want their bank or insurer to communicate with them in novel ways. Another 59% said they’d like their providers to blend physical branch services with digital services. In other words, they want to interact with agents in ways that suit them best — and, increasingly, that means moving the conversation online.

    The COVID-19 crisis has shined a spotlight on the importance of social media platforms for property-casualty insurance agents because of the unique opportunity they offer to safely reach and engage consumers at scale. Yet doing so presents an equally unique challenge for insurance marketers: how to take advantage of this amazing tool while protecting your brand.

    The opportunities and challenges of social media

    Social media is a critical tool for today’s insurance agents to not only deliver on consumers’ expectations, but also to recruit prospective customers. Research from Applied shows that younger audiences rely heavily on word-of-mouth referrals when choosing an insurance carrier, and social media is, perhaps, the world’s largest WOM machine.

    Practically speaking, social media enables agents to identify connections, build their personal brands, and engage in a two-way dialogue with customers and prospects alike — all in service of building genuine trust. Yes, social media is a wonderful resource, but as a carrier, you still need to protect your brand.

    The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has tried to harmonize the state-by-state regulations and provide best practices for social media, but in practice, these guidelines can be overly broad. For property-casualty insurance marketers looking to activate agents on social media, look to the best practices used in more highly regulated insurance markets. Here are four.

    1. Update your social media policy regularly.

    The highly regulatory environment of other insurance markets, particularly those that deal in life insurance and annuity products, has forced carriers in those markets to pay special attention to their social media policies. For marketing departments overseeing social media strategies in any market, however, policies can help maintain control over messaging when individual agents post on the brand’s behalf.

    By keeping social media policies updated, marketers give everyone a guiding light on brand messaging and compliance. Ideally, policies should be updated to reflect changes in the apps and devices your agents use to engage on social media. They should also reflect updates in your brand’s messaging, its current involvement in the community, changes in the approval or archiving processes, and updated best practices.

    2. Offer social media training (and retraining) for all agents.

    Initial training is essential for agents who are new to social media engagement and compliance, but seasoned agents can benefit from retraining sessions as well. When you update your social media policies, for instance, don’t expect agents to read and understand them completely on their own. Instead, hold retraining sessions to clearly outline and explain what’s changed.

    Along with policy updates, good triggers for retraining include new rules, new marketing campaigns, the addition of systems for approving and archiving content, or any other new tech features or tools. Include best practices, case studies, and specifics about brand messaging in each session to keep everyone aligned.

    3. Streamline social media efforts with the help of technology.

    With thousands of pages across social channels, it would be a herculean effort for a marketing team to approve and archive every mention of the brand on social. Let software do the heavy lifting for you. Social media management software allows you to streamline the review and approval process and assign a team to manage it. The right software can automatically archive posts from every agent, making it easier for marketing departments to keep a complete record.

    4. Adopt policies that make sense for organic vs. paid social.

    Organic and paid social require different approaches. For instance, though organic social media communication can’t be confined by geographic boundaries, agents should geofence their paid social media efforts to limit their reach to the states in which they’re licensed.

    Focus on brand guidelines when it comes to paid social, too. Ensure agents’ paid posts align with broader brand marketing for a well-rounded strategy. For instance, make sure agents have approved assets to share in paid campaigns. Hold retraining sessions to update agents on current marketing efforts and let them know how their individual paid posts can help campaigns reach their full potential.

    Meeting consumer expectations to interact on social media is easier when you can ensure all of your agents have the tools they need to stay above board. Invest in the right social media management software, update your social media policy as often as needed, and give your agents the confidence they need to be the face of your brand.

    In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, when business travel remains a rarity and even the local sales call continues to be iffy with many people working from home or not wanting visitors, LinkedIn has grown into a serious destination for business.

    And while reputations can’t be kept spotless on social media, LinkedIn has avoided the often toxic attention paid to other leading platforms in congressional hearings and in the media. Though it has seen politics seep onto its pages, LinkedIn still remains in the minds of many a more business and career-oriented channel.

    Yet many financial institutions don’t tap this platform for the potential benefit it can bring the bottom line.

    From the Corner Office to the Water Cooler

    Many believe LinkedIn is a good place for a financial brand to be because serious users have self-selected to be there, even though it is not the leading platform. A Hootsuite white paper makes the point that part of what builds traffic on LinkedIn is career-oriented “FOMO” — fear of missing out — on what competition has seen.

    “Financial services is an unusual business in that the customer journey is by no means linear, so you have to stay top of mind to keep relationships warm.”
    — Doug Wilber, Denim Social

    In general, LinkedIn can help with marketing by casting out multiple kinds of hooks simultaneously. “Financial services is an unusual business in that the customer journey is by no means linear, so you have to stay top of mind to keep relationships warm,” explains Doug Wilber, CEO at Denim Social, a provider of social media systems. ranks the top ten social media sites by membership as a percentage of world internet users (excluding China) and the percentage of active users:

    Facebook: 85% membership, 77% active users
    YouTube: 82%, 86%
    Facebook Messenger: 74%, 57%
    Instagram: 69%, 66%
    WhatsApp: 69%, 61%
    Twitter: 59%, 47%
    LinkedIn: 43%, 31%
    Pinterest: 39%, 31%
    Snapchat: 39%, 27%
    Skype: 30%, 25%

    In the third quarter of 2020, LinkedIn reported record engagement levels as its 722 million professional users accessed the platform.

    A key point that sets LinkedIn apart from other platforms is the variety of forms of organic (versus paid) communication users can tap. Like other platforms, members can share content from websites and elsewhere. But they can also post video and audio files to share with fellow users. In addition, LinkedIn permits posting of long-form articles and blogs that reside right on the platform and that can be shared on other platforms such as Twitter..

    Meanwhile, in a bid to tap into some of the same “fun” of Instagram’s Stories, in September LinkedIn got a touch more personal with LinkedIn Stories. These are very short videos intended to share something learned that day, to talk briefly about something new on the job, or even to solicit feedback on a concept. They can be adorned with titles and stickers to add more personality. Users must upload the messages through the LinkedIn app, rather than its desktop version.

    Meanwhile, usage of the many paid means of tapping LinkedIn returned to pre-COVID-19 levels in the third quarter of 2020, up 40% year over year. The platform offers multiple forms of advertising as well as InMail, its built-in email function, that claims a higher open rate than traditional sales-oriented emails.

    Does your bank or credit union — or its staff — belong on LinkedIn today either organically or through paid means? The Financial Brand spoke with three experts in social media for their recommendations.

    Why Financial Institution Officers Should Get Onto LinkedIn

    Chris Nichols, Chief Strategy Officer at CenterState Bank, has been a believer in LinkedIn for years. Initially this was for pushing out his blog for the bank and later, in 2019, he began managing training in LinkedIn techniques for the bank’s commercial relationship managers. Currently, given the inability to call personally on prospects and clients and the lack of conferences and other venues to attend, Nichols says some of the relationship managers are generating most of their leads through LinkedIn networking.

    “If you are in B2B sales you have to be on LinkedIn. It’s raised the profile of our business bankers.”
    — Chris Nichols, CenterState Bank

    Nichols says the key is consistent application of effort at least 20 minutes a week to post content, share links, record likes and to follow additional people and connect with others.

    “Some relationship managers do this every day and it pays off,” says Nichols. It’s a matter of being where business people are, he explains. More and more of the bank’s commercial customers have some presence on LinkedIn.

    “If you are in B2B sales you have to be there,” Nichols believes. “It’s raised the profile of our business bankers.”

    “LinkedIn is becoming more of a place for trusted advice,” says Meredith Olmstead, CEO and Founder at FI GROW Solutions, which advises credit unions and banks on social media marketing. “Many people default to LinkedIn when they are looking for help because it is still seen as professional and serious.”

    She sees the platform as especially important for commercial lenders and mortgage lenders, people who are sought out for expertise. For this reason ensuring that those officers take the time to keep their profiles complete and current is critical, she says. Anything that builds credibility — relevant training, attendance at a key local event (someday) — should make it into the person’s profile or postings. If an officer is stuck for what to include, they should check out the profiles of business people they admire and use what they find as guidance.

    “Ultimately people bank with people,” says Doug Wilber. He says LinkedIn can put a human face on an institution, especially during the pandemic, and help establish trust.

    Wilber says content that relates to an officer’s job specialty resonates well. A mortgage lender, for example, can post content on subjects such a “Three Things You Need to Know Before You Refinance.”

    Olmstead adds that some banks and credit unions shy away from LinkedIn because they believe that it puts their employees into play in the job market. It is true that there are private settings that make a person’s listing visible to headhunters, but Olmstead thinks the concern is misplaced and costs these institutions the potential benefits of LinkedIn.

    “If you’ve got happy employees,” she insists, “you won’t lose them. They need to be out there to help expand your institution’s market.”

    Do You Think You ‘Oughta Be In Pictures’? (Think Twice)

    With the increased use of video on LinkedIn and social media in general, it can be tempting to try it out.

    “Every single kid I know is obsessed with Tik Tok.”
    — Meredith Olmstead, FI GROW Solutions

    Wilber notes that many bankers aren’t all that comfortable on camera, however, some officers do have a good video presence. Then the institution has to decide what it is trying to accomplish with video. “Ultimately the consumer has to learn something of value,” he says. Straight promotion is a definite “no.”

    “I wouldn’t go jumping right in with video,” if the institution is just getting into LinkedIn in 2021, says Olmstead. She says there are basics to master first. Still, it is important to pay attention to video with Tik Tok taking the youth market — future customers — by storm.

    “Every single kid I know is obsessed with Tik Tok,” says Olmstead.

    How Much LinkedIn Freedom Should Individual Employees Have?

    In recent years the concept of employees as “brand ambassadors” has grown popular. However, some financial institutions prefer to tightly rein what employees do and say on social media.

    Wilber thinks it’s a mistake to place too much reliance on employees’ own creativity in crafting content and messages that will be published or promoted on LinkedIn.

    “Remember,” he says, “they aren’t marketers.”

    Wilber thinks a centralized role for Marketing is crucial for banks and credit unions using LinkedIn. Marketers will curate and create content that will keep what’s posted in employees’ names on brand and aligned with the organization’s other marketing methods.

    Others favor more freedom. For example, at CenterState, “we decided that everyone is an adult here and that they know what they should and shouldn’t be doing on social media,” says Nichols.

    The bank’s marketing department makes a steady stream of content available for officers’ use and they are encouraged to put out content that they find as well, to tailor their efforts to specific connections and markets. The bank’s LinkedIn training includes quality control measures in the form of things like how to take good photos to go with posts and how to tag them to improve their search engine optimization value. They are encouraged to customize messages so they make stronger connections.

    However tightly or loosely a financial institution controls postings by employees, regularity is important. Wilber says his firm endorses what he calls the “411” formula — four thought-leadership posts, one product-related post and one post emphasizing the human side of the officer or the institution. The idea is to be out there enough to be seen but also to mix up the approaches.

    LinkedIn likes variety, the Hootsuite white paper notes, but LinkedIn’s algorithm, like Google’s, favors certain types of content over others, and is continually changing.

    Being organized proves important, too. Olmstead recommends setting goals for growth in connections, for example, and tracking progress on an Excel sheet, not just casually going about the process.

    Making Use of LinkedIn’s Paid Opportunities

    Nichols speaks highly of the LinkedIn platform’s ability to help marketers tightly focus on the most qualified members for targeted messaging.

    “It’s really enabled us to micro target just the right kinds of recipients,” he explains. Tools like LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator help sift out the best leads.

    Nichols says targeting people on the platform that have recently had a promotion or a job change can be particularly fruitful. CenterState looks for new CFOs and new controllers, for example, in order to make connections for commercial loans and business services.

    A good idea hiding in plain sight: “Most banks haven’t picked up on that idea,” he says, but a personnel turnover is a great time to pitch a company on trying a new commercial bank.

    LinkedIn doesn’t give the targeting away. “The more you target the more expensive it gets,” says Nichols and how much the bank is willing to spend on a qualified lead depends somewhat on the likely outcome of the contact. For outreach that could turn into new business accounts, for example, the bank is will to pay anywhere between $60 and $150 per lead, according to Nichols. Where the point of the contact is more upper funnel — to get someone to download a white paper or register for a webinar, for example — the ceiling is much lower, at $20-$40 per lead.

    Targeting is a detailed matter on LinkedIn. The company’s own free guide runs nearly 40 pages with numerous ways of narrowing contact lists — but also for expanding them in fresh directions.

    Nichols also has a last bit of advice on the timing of both paid outreach and organic posts. While LinkedIn neophytes may think that it is a Monday-Friday opportunity, that’s not the case. Nichols finds that weekends can be a pretty good time to reach people because that’s when they are often catching up on emails, business reading and other “office” matters.

    This article was originally published on The Financial Brand and written by Steve Cocheo, Executive Editor.

    Denim Social CEO, Doug Wilber, joined the American Banker’s Association podcast to break down social selling for banks and why empowering your employees on social media is important to your strategy.

    Click to listen and learn more.

    It’s been quite a year for commercial lenders. Nearly overnight, thousands of community banks began processing Paycheck Protection Program loan applications; since then, small businesses have been in great need of trusted, reliable lenders.

    At the same time, however, commercial banks are shifting how they do business. In many places, social distancing guidelines limit face-to-face interactions. The relationship between lenders and small businesses has always required a personal touch, but lenders have to figure out how to get that without connecting in person.

    Social media can be the bridge between banks and the business owners and communities who need them during COVID-19. With these five strategies, lenders can reach small businesses wherever they are, engage with them on a personal level, and build trusting relationships that will last.

    1. Give your brand name a human face.

    Commercial bank marketers can post all they want on brand social media pages, but it won’t be enough to build trusting relationships with small business owners. Banks need to activate individual loan officers as social sellers. This means that loan officers can post and engage on their own social networking pages on behalf of the brand. Not only does this expand a bank’s reach (employees have up to 10 times as many connections on social media as brands have followers), but it also helps build trust. People trust other people over brands.

    2. Use social media to educate.

    This is likely one of the most tumultuous times in business owners’ professional lives, but you can establish your loan officers as trusted experts to help them through it. With all of the information and updates around PPP loans flying around right now, news headlines can be confusing and overwhelming for business owners. They’re likely struggling to understand current lending options. Arm your loan officers with trustworthy, educational, and timely content to share on social media so they can position themselves as valuable resources.

    3. Respond as though you’re face to face.

    When talking to clients in person, loan officers wouldn’t keep them waiting for days to answer questions or respond to comments. They shouldn’t keep them waiting on social media, either. Many small business owners are under a lot of stress during these times. Loan officers can help by responding to posts, comments, or direct messages in a helpful and timely manner. Remember that social media is as much a customer service platform as it is a marketing tool.

    4. Make strategic use of targeted paid campaigns.

    Loan officers can certainly establish their expertise and build trusting relationships by posting useful content organically and engaging regularly on social media, but you can take the approach to a new level with targeted paid campaigns as well. Paid social is the most affordable form of advertising. For less than $3, you can get your brand in front of more than 1,000 specifically targeted individuals. And the right software can help you launch and manage microtargeted paid campaigns at scale to maximize your spend.

    5. Don’t forget about compliance.

    Things move fast on social media, but letting compliance slip could land your brand in regulatory hot water. Create a comprehensive social media policy in line with regulations from entities like FINRA and the FFIEC.

    Then, train loan officers on this policy before they begin posting on behalf of the brand and create approval workflows to ensure everything they post is compliant. Social media software like Denim Social’s platform can help you digitize and enforce such workflows to make sure you check every box on every post. The software can also automatically archive all posts and engagements in case you ever need to prove compliance to a regulatory body.

    Commercial lenders might not be able to connect with small business owners as they once could — but that doesn’t mean the relationships have to be any less personal. As small businesses need lenders now more than ever, banks can use social media to cut through the social distancing barriers to reach business owners in need and earn their trust as go-to lenders.

    Long before COVID-19 and all its associated impact, banks were already witnessing the great migration to self-service models. Between 2017 and 2022, research from CACI predicted that visits to physical branches would drop by 36% and mobile transactions would surge by 121%. When the pandemic temporarily shut down in-person banking services, this trend only accelerated — and we shouldn’t expect it to reverse once the pandemic subsides.

    At the same time, marketing budgets are tightening under the financial weight of COVID-19. In fact, Gartner found that 76% of marketing leaders expect budget decreases due to the pandemic. As a result, banks need to rethink their marketing strategies and budgets. It would be a mistake to dig your heels into the conventional tactics you’ve used for years.

    Community events are largely on hold, meaning you’re losing that in-person connection opportunity. And with more people staying home, advertising techniques like billboards just won’t deliver the ROI you need. Social media is the best way to reach your audience at scale. Use these steps to leverage social media to meet people where they are, optimize your reach and spend, and shield your bank from hefty penalties.

    1. Embrace the shift to social media.

    The use of social media is up across the board: A poll conducted between late March and early May found that approximately half of all U.S. adults were using social media more frequently when compared to pre-pandemic rates. People want the brands they follow to be using social media now, too. According to the “2020 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: Trust and the Coronavirus,” 84% of respondents want brands to use social media channels to help build a feeling of community and give social support during this time.

    Now’s the perfect opportunity to invest more in social media. It’s the best way to safely and efficiently get your brand to the forefront to build and nurture relationships. The potential reach is enormous, and when you develop a strong social selling strategy with your employees in the driver’s seat, you’ll see up to eight times the engagement on branded posts.

    Numerous studies confirm that people trust people much more than brands. Employee-shared social posts spread faster and further than the same posts shared on brands’ pages. Embrace your customers’ desire to interact on social media by empowering your financial advisors, loan officers, and other employees to interact with them on the bank’s behalf.

    2. Invest in paid social advertising.

    Organic social media is incredibly valuable, but you can fire up your efforts by using paid social tactics. With unparalleled targeting capabilities and maximum ROI, paid amplification could help your brand and your employees efficiently reach and engage prospects. What’s more, paid social advertising allows you to stretch your marketing budget further by segmenting and targeting specific types of consumers with relevant messaging.

    On average, it costs about $2.50 to reach 1,000 people through paid social media advertising. It can cost up to 10 times as much to reach as many people through television ads and other traditional methods. With people spending more time on social media, every dollar spent on paid social advertising will be well worth it.

    3. Leverage software to maintain compliance.

    The more involved banks get with their social media marketing efforts, the more complex it will become to manage their strategy effectively. Wasteful spending on inefficient paid advertising is one risk, but a more significant one is violating compliance rules and having to pay exorbitant fines.

    A robust social media policy is an important element in staying compliant, but you can use social media software to ensure nothing slips through the cracks. For example, our software helps smooth out approval workflows and captures and archives all branded social media activity in accordance with crucial electronic communication regulations.

    The onset of the coronavirus necessitated a total transformation in bank marketing — one that’s driven by social media. Savvy bank marketers will jump on board now and get more value for every marketing dollar they spend by investing in a broader, digital-first strategy of social media advertising.

    Think back to January 2020. Would you have believed me if I’d told you that, come March, you’d be working remotely and taking meetings through Zoom? What if I said a global pandemic would cause community lockdowns and completely alter how you manage and market your advisory practice? Just nine months ago, you might have scoffed at such suggestions; then, COVID-19 entered the chat.

    In the wake of the pandemic, you’ve faced unprecedented challenges in the way you handle your workflow, operate your practice, and, most importantly, interact with clients. After all, financial advisory is a people-first business. FAs work hard to build authentic relationships — it’s how they gain and retain clients — and there’s something intimate and trust-building about connecting face to face. But with in-person meetings largely out of the question, now is the time to level up your social media game.

    Social media provides the perfect platform for building rapport, navigating mutual connections, getting referrals, and educating clients — both current and prospective. This probably isn’t your first time on social media, but there may still be untapped opportunities to build authentic connections. Follow these dos and don’ts to create useful content and drive engagement.

    Don’t: Take half measures.

    You have to take social media seriously by stepping up your engagement on relevant platforms — “relevant” being the operative word. It’s tempting to jump on every trendy network in order to maximize your reach, but not every single one will work well for your practice, and that’s OK. Where do you have the most followers? Use Google Analytics to identify which social networks are driving the most traffic back to your site. Start focusing your efforts on those sites specifically. You don’t need to be active on every channel — just the ones that matter.

    Once you’ve figured out the channels most important to your practice, start engaging. Social media is a two-way communication tool, which means not only posting content, but also commenting on others’ posts, liking updates, and responding quickly to direct messages. It’s important to note that all of these activities are subject to compliance and should be automatically archived.

    Do: Keep an ear to the ground.

    Savvy FAs know that their clients are more receptive to counseling during major life changes. Social media is an amazing way to stay connected to people: You can see who’s getting married, buying a house, or switching careers. Step up your social listening game and look for appropriate opportunities to connect with prospects. Even something as simple as a job change alert on LinkedIn could be a way to open a conversation.

    Don’t: Waste time posting content your audience doesn’t care about.

    As an experienced FA, you already have a defined client audience: Perhaps you specialize in niche areas, like college-savings plans, or maybe you serve a particular generation, like Millennials. Reflect that audience in your social media content. Remember: Social isn’t where you create an audience — it’s where you deepen your relationship and build trust by demonstrating expertise with that audience.

    Your content needs to reflect the audience that’s most important to you and be catered to the parameters of the channel. Let’s say you primarily serve individuals who are 65 or older, for instance. In that case, Facebook may be a better fit than, say, Instagram because its audience skews a little older. Facebook also doesn’t have a character limit on its posts, so this may be a great place to post longer-form educational content about retirement planning or other relevant topics.

    Do: Level up with paid social.

    Social media takes natural communication and engagement to new, more personal levels, but no matter how great your content is, you likely need paid advertising to get noticed. Don’t worry. This isn’t a reflection of how well-liked you are — the platforms have evolved to drive more paid advertising. Unlike traditional media, social provides a more advanced avenue for paid advertisements. For example, promoting LinkedIn posts to shared connections, targeting Facebook ads to specific ZIP codes, or retargeting people who’ve visited your website.

    As an added bonus, social media advertising is significantly more cost-effective than other mediums. When comparing the cost per thousand impressions, social media sits at $2.50 per thousand impressions, while more traditional methods like TV advertising sit at $28 per thousand impressions.

    The options for FAs on social media are endless. The most successful engagement and advertising strategies can be scaled up with even a minimal budget. As an FA, you can use these opportunities to be more proactive in building your business with better social media networking.

    Since the mid-1980s, companies across the country have used the first full workweek in October to celebrate National Customer Service Week. The week, which the U.S. Congress proclaimed a national event in 1992, has a twofold mission to not only encourage organizations to recognize their customer service representatives’ hard work, but also highlight the critical role that customer service plays in successfully running a business.

    Owing to the challenges introduced by COVID-19, this year’s event—set for Oct. 5-9—will certainly have a different tone, but it would be unwise to abandon the celebration altogether. After all, the quality of service can make or break customer retention in the best of times, but data from McKinsey & Co. shows that the pandemic has driven a bigger change in consumer behavior. Since the pandemic began, 77% of consumers have abandoned brand loyalties in favor of testing out new products and brands.

    In this stressful atmosphere, customer service teams are more influential than ever. Judicious shoppers will expect stellar experiences, so company leaders must ensure their customer experience teams are taking care of customers to keep them coming back. If you think it might be time to pandemic-proof your own CX model, read on. I connected with five entrepreneurs to learn about the innovative customer service ideas they’ve employed since the onset of the pandemic.

    1. Todd Gurley, president at Redbird Advisors

    Todd Gurley and his team have always taken a personal approach to customer service, but they’ve had to modify their methods in the past few months. Instead of meeting clients over lunch, for instance, they might engage in a Zoom call. Regardless, they’ve remained devoted to developing relationships through consistent communication and touchpoints.

    Gurley welcomes the chance to be brought into his customers’ worlds and encourages other businesses to approach service from a customer-centric standpoint. And when asked what keeps his customers coming back, he narrows it down to relationships and results. “Do what you say you’re going to do and do it on time,” said Gurley. “Deliver—it’s that simple. We know people are looking for silver bullets in times like these, but we’ve found that being thoughtful, steady, and reliable works no matter how good or bad the times may be.”

    2. Safwan Shah, CEO at PayActiv

    Safwan Shah’s customer service philosophy is all about making people feel good. That’s why, as soon as the pandemic hit, Shah authorized his CX representatives to give away $50 to $100 to customers in need—no questions asked—and removed fees for a select period, saving users $2 million. Since then, PayActiv has released a no-fee option for some users and reduced the cost for others.

    These decisions cost millions in revenue in the short term but have paid off unmeasurably in loyalty. “Our customers know they can rely on us to act,” said Shah. “We responded to the crisis swiftly, and they saw us walk the walk when we eliminated our fees. They see us as a trusted partner with a heart that respects the humanity of its workers.”

    3. Jesse Lear, founder at Epicurean Properties

    When the pandemic hit, Jesse Lear was surprised to see other companies’ CX dropping to abysmal levels—but he saw it as a rare opportunity to set his company apart. “We immediately placed an even higher priority on customer service,” said Lear. “We started answering calls even faster, surprising our customers with little gifts, and going above and beyond to make even the tiniest issues right.”

    By refusing to settle for less, Lear has held onto customers. “We were able to thrive during a time when the rest of our industry was suffering, and I believe that was largely due to our obsession with delivering five-star customer service, even when it wasn’t easy,” said Lear. To other companies weighing how far to take their CX changes, Lear recommends moving full steam ahead. As he puts it, “Adequate isn’t adequate.” To wow people, brands have to go the extra mile, even if that means doing something costly upfront to win great reviews and a constant stream of referrals.

    4. Doug Wilber, CEO at Denim Social

    As the leader of a software company, Doug Wilber is, by most measures, part of the tech industry, but he doesn’t see it that way. “I like to remind my team that although we’re a social media management software company, we’re not in the tech business—we’re in the people business,” said Wilber.

    The pandemic has made this mission even more important, as many clients have had to accelerate their adoption of social media. “For our customers, relationship-building has historically been done in person,” said Wilber. “Almost overnight, that wasn’t safe or possible. We’d been helping teams implement social media strategies for years, but the pandemic intensified our customers’ needs and timelines.”

    Accordingly, Denim Social account managers doubled down on their efforts to add value. They not only implement the software, but also support customers as they launch, refine, and expand their social media strategies. “We’ll only be successful if our customers are getting value from our technology,” said Wilber.

    5. Cheri McDonald, founder at Break Free with Dr. Cheri

    As a therapist, life coach, and influencer, Cheri McDonald will be the first to tell you that her business couldn’t exist without customers. Consequently, she’s made CX her No. 1 priority. “There is the philosophy that we are as good as the six people closest to us,” said McDonald. “It is my policy to be one of the six people available to my clients.”

    What does she suggest for keeping customers returning rain or shine? For one thing, you must offer innovative ways to be available to your customers. “Especially during times of isolation, people are craving stimulation and refreshing information, ideas, and creativity,” said McDonald. “By going digital with my services, I’ve gained even greater insight into my clients, as they invite me into their homes. This insight has proven to enrich the service by being able to offer even more personalized tools that fit into the animation of their world.”

    Beyond showing up, McDonald recommends practicing intentional listening, seeking to empathize with customer dilemmas, and authentically expressing what you do (and do not) know. Only then will your relationships evolve into masterminded partnerships that never need to end.

    Customer service isn’t just a nice-to-have arm of your business. It’s an essential piece of your operational puzzle. This October, honor your CX superheroes as you brainstorm ways to take your customer experience to the next level. Trust me: It will pay off tenfold.

    This article was written by Rhett Power and originally published on Forbes.

    While the COVID-19 pandemic has taught management many lessons, chief among them is the importance of efficient communication.

    To this end, Fairwinds Credit Union in Orland, Fla., has used its existing internal social platform in new ways to better connect with its 580 employees. It created a dedicated COVID-19 information hub within its intranet and used that to communicate all critical business operation changes, instructions and resources. It was a way for those transitioning to work from home to receive this important information and remain connected.

    The intranet is accessible to employees working both in the office and at home, and workers already know to go there for information so it was the most effective channel for communication, said Lindsey LeWinter, vice president of human resources administration.

    “Fairwinds has utilized a company intranet for all internal communications for many, many years so it was a natural decision for us to leverage it for this pandemic communication,” LeWinter added.

    There has been a considerable uptick in companies, including credit unions, determining best virtual messaging practices for employees, said Doug Wilber, CEO of the St. Louis-based Denim Social, a social media company.

    That has covered both internal communication with employees who are potentially working from home now and external platforms meant to reach members.

    “We’d seen a steady increase in social media marketing from credit unions over the past several years, but the pandemic has accelerated digital adoption,” Wilber said. “With social distancing, institutions must find new ways to serve, connect and build relationships with people.”

    In response to COVID-19, Veridian Credit Union in Waterloo, Iowa, engaged in a number of communication initiatives, said Andrea Hudnut, public relations strategist for the $4.7 billion- asset institution. Email has been the primary form of communication but it also utilized an intranet to provide updates, resources and links to other sources, such as recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, she added.

    Besides its intranet, the $3.2 billion-asset Fairwinds Credit Union has an employee-only Facebook group, LeWinter said. The credit union has utilized that page to host Facebook Live sessions, post photos and videos and encourage employees to interact with each other “on lighter topics, such as crewmember of the month and new hire announcements, wellness initiatives, fun surveys and the always popular sharing of pet photos,” LeWinter added.

    By utilizing the intranet and closed Facebook page, LeWinter said that administrators were able to determine the number of views on each page to gauge activity. The credit union also offered an “ask a question” option. That sends a notification email to executives and senior managers who can provide answers to employees’ queries.

    In addition, a Crewmember Connection site was developed on the credit union’s intranet where employees could post on various topics that all of their colleagues could view. It also completed a survey of its workers in late April to gauge the effectiveness of management’s communication. Based on that feedback, it made changes, such as converting learning and development courses to digital programs. That has allowed for more attendance and reduced travel, LeWinter said.

    More than 90% of Fairwinds employees worked from home until mid-May and by mid-August 44% of workers had returned to offices. As Fairwinds Credit Union navigates the new normal, LeWinter said the organization will do so benefiting from lessons learned. This includes all workers’ computers and laptops being video enabled since video has improved virtual meetings.

    “Out of necessity, many crewmembers have learned a different way to do their jobs, which has led to increased effectiveness that will continue into the future,” LeWinter said.

    This post was originally published on American Banker.

    People don’t usually talk with their insurance companies until something goes wrong. With few touchpoints in less-than-ideal circumstances, it can be difficult for insurance companies to build and maintain trust with their customers.

    When customers have exceptionally positive experiences with agents, however, it has a significant impact. Positive narratives about insurance companies going the extra mile do exist. If the insurance industry wants to build more trust with the public, it needs to better leverage these and other positive examples.

    The best way for insurance companies to tell these stories and build more trust is through social media. Here’s how:

    1. Take person-to-person interactions to social media channels.

    Insurance sales have traditionally happened in person. A January 2020 survey of life insurance agents found that 90% of sales conversations and 70% of ongoing customer conversations happened face to face. However, COVID-19 has changed things: A follow-up survey in May reported less than 5% of agents were talking to customers in person.

    In a world where face-to-face interaction is fundamentally changed, social media is the next best channel for connecting directly with customers in meaningful ways, whether you’re responding to comments, liking posts, or interacting via direct messaging.

    2. Activate individual agents and financial advisors in a social selling strategy.

    Social selling is when individual employees share branded content on their own social media pages with their own networks. Employee pages have exponentially further reach on social than brand pages, and people trust people more than brands.

    Marketing departments can encourage individual agents and advisors to share branded content with their social media networks. When you put individuals behind messaging, you’re both humanizing the employees to build more trust and increasing the brand’s reach to build more business.

    3. Have agents and advisors share valuable content with their networks.

    Sales pitches and product info aren’t likely to get your customers’ attention on social media, even when individual agents share it. And it certainly won’t help your agents and advisors build trusting relationships. Instead, they should share content that is specifically relevant and useful to their networks and in line with their areas of expertise.

    First, brands and employees should practice social listening to see what the people in their networks are buzzing about. Then, they can share valuable content around those subjects. For example, if an agent recognizes that homebuying is a hot topic of conversation in their networks, they can share educational information about homeowners insurance.

    4. Launch micro-targeted social media advertising at scale.

    While agents and financial advisors can extend your brand’s reach on social media, there’s still no guarantee the content they share will end up in front of the right audience members. Paid social media advertising, however, can help amplify their messages to reach the right people. Denim Social uses advanced analytics to micro-target and automatically optimize ads across multiple locations, so you can launch successful campaigns at scale with ease.

    What’s more, insurance agents are licensed on a state-by-state basis, so they’ll need to make sure their paid campaigns aren’t going to people outside the locations they can serve. Micro-targeting paid campaigns can ensure you’re optimizing your marketing spend to reach only the right people.

    5. Continue to scale engagement safely with compliance workflows.

    Any electronic communication — including all social media posts and engagement — will need to be compliant with regulatory standards to avoid landing your company and brand name in hot water. But making sure all social media activity is in line with regulatory and brand guidelines doesn’t have to be as daunting as it sounds.

    Set an approval workflow for each post and response, then use a social media management tool like Denim to automate the workflow. Denim also offers compliance software to automatically archive all of your employees’ brand messages, posts, and engagements in case you ever need to prove compliance.

    The way agents and advisors reach customers might be changing drastically, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Social media can help humanize the insurance industry and build trust. Take control of public perceptions by letting your employees engage with customers on social media and powering their conversations with analytics and compliance software in the background.

    Historically low mortgage rates have recently  opened the doors for many people to enter the housing market, but new house hunters are setting out on their homebuying journeys in uncharted waters during the pandemic.  Economic uncertainty  lingers, and many potential buyers are feeling more nervous than usual about taking the leap to homeownership.

    For bank loan officers who can help put buyers at ease and make the process as smooth and clear as possible, there are plenty of opportunities to land more deals. And the best place for loan officers to educate and offer a helping hand to prospective clients is social media. Here’s how you can capitalize on historically low rates while building trusting relationships with your prospects digitally:

    Use Social Media to make the connections you can't in person.

    Even as states lift stay-at-home restrictions, many financial institutions still limit in-person interactions and require social distancing. This represents a strategy shift for loan officers who are used to making connections and building relationships face to face.

    The good news is that your clients and prospects are already online—in fact, one 2019 survey shows that 89 percent of respondents of all ages rely on mobile banking—so they’re familiar with digital interaction. Meeting them where they are on social media only makes things more convenient for them.

    Confront the elephant in the room.

    Carrying on with business as usual without addressing what’s changed about the world is a surefire way to seem out of touch. COVID-19 has affected nearly every area of people’s lives, and ignoring it will do nothing for you or them. Social media can be an excellent platform to acknowledge your clients’ challenges and offer a helping hand.

    Share information that empathizes with prospects and clients. Anticipate and answer their questions by sharing helpful, credible articles. If you show that you understand how the virus is impacting people financially, you’re honest about the current mortgage environment, and you’re there to help, prospects will think of you as a trustworthy source when they are in need.

    Use your platform to educate, not market.

    A special coronavirus-related report  from Edelman  points out that 85 percent of consumers want brands to play a role in education during this difficult time. People are confused, but loan officers have the knowledge and resources to help clear up confusion around the mortgage landscape and housing market for people looking to buy.

    You should share credible and informative news and content on your page, but don’t stop there. Break down complex points into easy-to-understand posts and offer valuable perspectives to help your audience digest the information. Not only will your audience members see you as an expert, but they will also trust you to be a helpful resource.

    Feed the public need for positivity.

    When much of your message is about navigating the woes surrounding a pandemic, it’s easy to create doom and gloom without realizing it.
    Temper this by sharing good news, too. For example: Share photos of a happy family celebrating the purchase of a new home or stories of buyers who had great experiences.
    While these feel-good, relatable moments can help lift the spirits of your connections, they also show the humanity behind your expertise and serve as another point for building trust.

    Don't forget compliance.

    While your team may be eager to jump into social media in this hot market, it doesn’t mean you should take on risk. Remember, just one rogue post could land your institution in regulatory hot water. You’ll need to start with a social media policy and outline social media access and control. Social media compliance for mortgage lenders can seem daunting, but software tools can help your team approve, monitor and archive activity.

    The mortgage environment is more favorable than ever for buyers, but it’s also a lot more confusing and challenging to navigate. When loan officers use social media to educate, clear up confusion and offer guidance, they can be a source for good in difficult times while also building trust and closing more deals.

    This article was originally published on ABA Bank Marketing.

    As financial advisors well know, social media governance does not stop at banks and insurance companies.

    Financial advisors, including registered investment advisors and broker-dealers, are also held to stringent guidelinesfrom regulatory bodies.
    Advisors have to be careful when using social platforms to grow their networks, source new customers, and build their reputations — or they could face steep fines or other penalties. Unfortunately, this means many have sworn off social media as part of their practice entirely.

    But compliant social media strategies are possible, and they’re worth the effort: In a 2018 survey, 86% of advisors who use social media reported that it helped them gain clients, and 54% said it helped them have better professional relationships with clients.

    With these strategies, you can lower your risk of noncompliance and make the most of your social selling strategy:

    1.Start off right.

    Whether you’re just starting out on social media or you’re looking to revamp your strategy, it’s important to set up your profile in accordance with SEC guidelines. For example, understand what kinds of client commentary you can and cannot include in your “About” page or share on your account.

    What’s more, many institutions have strict policies around email addresses tied to social media accounts, so make sure you know what your bank or firm requires. Using a work email instead of a personal one for your professional social account will keep the lines between personal and professional communication very clear cut, which is essential in any advisor’s strategy.

    2. Stay up to date on policies and training.

    Financial institutions are required to carry out social media risk assessments and update social media policies periodically. Your bank or firm should offer training to help you understand and carry out these policies. If you haven’t heard an update in a while, it’s worth it to ask whether any policies have changed. Staying informed about guidelines from both regulatory bodies and your institution can help you share and engage on social media without worry.

    3. Remember to archive.

    If FINRA ever calls upon you to prove compliance, the institution will need to provide a full archive of all social media and online communications. That means you need to save every business-related post, comment, and response. That might sound like a lot to handle, but the right social media management software can make it easy. Auto-archiving features can capture and save all posts and engagement, compiling them into an easily searchable database.

    4. Streamline the approval process.

    FINRA dictates that financial advisory firms set up review and approval processes for social media posts. To make sure the approval workflow doesn’t create unnecessary bottlenecks, look to your marketing department and compliance officers to establish roles and responsibilities.

    For example, is your marketing department originating posts, sending them to advisors for approval, and then getting the compliance stamp of approval? Or are advisors creating their own content? Whatever the process, keeping it clear will ensure nothing falls through the cracks. Keeping all versions in one centralized location with social media management software can streamline the process even further — potentially freeing up 20%-30% of your time during the workday.

    Social media does require some investment in the form of time and education to keep things compliant, but the return is worth it. If you stay up to date on policies and regulations, keep track of all electronic communication, and follow a consistent approval process, then you can lower your regulatory risks and move forward confidently on social media to build your network and grow your business.

    If you’re wondering where content fits into your digital marketing strategy, listen to this enlightening podcast discussion. Denim Social CEO, Doug Wilber, joined the Financial Experience podcast to discuss how financial institutions can leverage the horsepower of employees and why content matters more than ever on social media. In a heavily saturated world of digital tools, Denim Social is staying focused on what matters to financial institutions.

    Click to listen and learn more.

    Some financial advisors might feel like digital connections are more distant than in-person ones, but the reality of today is that a social media strategy should be an integral part of any advisor’s practice.

    Today, just about everyone is on social media, and it can be a beneficial tool for connecting with clients, developing relationships, and building your practice.
    The point isn’t to take the personal element out of the practice; it’s about meeting new clients where they already are and in a way that’s familiar to and convenient for them. Believe it or not, social media can help you build a solid foundation of trust that can support many conversations to come.

    Financial advisors should embrace social media to expand their networks, reach more potential clients, and build trust. So, if a financial advisor is new to social media, where should they start? Here’s how to do it:

    1. Use your network to reach more people.

    Starting with LinkedIn and expanding later to Facebook if it fits your brand, find new connections. Start with mutual connections of people you know, and reach out to build your network. It’s also wise to filter by industry if you have specific ones you target for ideal clients. Consider investing in a LinkedIn Sales Navigator subscription to help you segment even further.

    You’re likely to have more personal connections than your firm’s brand page. In fact, social media posts actually reach more than 560% further when shared on personal pages compared to brand pages. The trick is to leverage both your firm’s brand and credibility, as well as your own personal brand and relationship-building skills. People want to know exactly with whom they’ll be working.

    2. Define your expertise with content.

    Prospects want to know what you’re good at and how it can help them. Social media can help you define your expertise, and it’s an opportunity to build your profile as a thought leader in the space. For example, do you specialize in financial planning for young high earners? Or perhaps you have expertise regarding the retirement plans of a specific local corporation? These are all great differentiators for you.

    Create and publish content on your social channels to address these specific audiences, and do so frequently. You can use a social media scheduling tool to make posting easier by planning out what you’ll share each day in advance. When your prospects see regular, relevant information from you, they’ll be confident you’re the right choice for their specific financial needs.

    3. Engage to build trust.

    As you share information that directly relates to the needs of your prospects, you’ll create authentic connections, and they will begin trusting in your expertise. However, if they’re going to put their financial wellness in your hands, they’ll need to trust you on a personal level, too.

    Communicating openly, regularly, and proactively on your own social media profiles can help you build deeper trust by showing your prospects that you’re relatable and human. Remember that social media is not a one-way communication channel. It’s about a conversation, so encourage prospects to reach out to you directly and personally.

    Show them you care by responding promptly to their comments and messages. Like their posts and engage with their content. Engagement can help prospects get to know you as a person, not just as a photo or a name on LinkedIn. People trust people over brands, after all.

    4. Make sure to stay compliant.

    As a financial advisor, you’re likely aware that you are subject to FINRA or SEC oversight and, therefore, must stay compliant with social media guidelines. Your broader financial institution may have additional guidelines you’ll need to follow as well.

    Be sure to check with your compliance and marketing departments to learn exactly what you can and can’t do on social media and familiarize yourself with the proper policies and procedures to follow. Your institution might already have a tool in place to automate approval workflows, but if not, look into one to help streamline the process. Remember that a social media strategy can’t be strong if it’s not compliant.
    Financial advising is a people-first business — it always will be.

    With the right execution, social media can be an effective people-first strategy, too. Using the steps above, build a solid basis of trust and credibility with more clients to set the stage for many connection points to come.

    Social selling offers banks an effective way to  drive customer engagement and trust, humanize their brands,  build credibility,  reach a wider audience and  close more deals.

    The idea may be simple—employees post branded content on their personal social media accounts—but the execution takes some work, as it requires a bank’s marketing and compliance teams to work together strategically.

    This isn’t always an easy feat, as the goals of marketing (creativity and quick action) can be at odds with the goals of compliance (ensuring content passes rigorous legal scrutiny). There’s tension here: Marketers will see the potential reach and engagement in encouraging employees to post branded content, while compliance teams will see every participating employee as a risk. Even one rogue employee post could land the bank in trouble, after all.

    In short, marketers can feel like compliance is holding them back, even though compliance is simply doing its job in protecting the bank from unnecessary exposure. It’s up to bank leaders to ease the tension between teams and help them work together to balance the risks and rewards of a social selling campaign to ensure the strategy reaches its full potential.

    Balancing risk and reward for social selling success

    Social media has become an  increasingly essential  part of a bank’s marketing strategy. Banks may have been hesitant a decade ago, but they’ve since learned to embrace the medium as an effective way to reach customers. At the same time, investment in  holistic compliance programs  is up, as banks have learned the value of bringing compliance into every facet of the business to improve processes and transparency.

    And though social media can seem like a less formal mode of communication, it still needs to be up to par with local and federal regulations, especially for a highly regulated industry like banking. For example, in the U.S. alone, there are  upwards of 10,000 laws  governing electronic communication (which includes social media).

    The consequences for compliance failure can be severe. To execute any sort of social campaign correctly, both compliance and marketing absolutely must be involved in the process, with bank leaders heading up the initiative. Here’s how to get started.

    1. Actively work to understand the goals and concerns of each department.

    Leaders need to support social selling campaigns, and the only way they can do that is to work closely with marketing teams to understand their objectives, vision, and strategy.
    Leaders also need to protect a bank from regulatory penalties by opening up dialogues with compliance and striving to understand those concerns. By working toward a complete picture of the opportunities and potential pitfalls involved in social selling, leaders can help both teams succeed.

    2. Help teams understand each other’s roles and responsibilities.

    Marketing may want to run with a big new idea, but the team needs to understand why that’s not always feasible in the banking world. Marketers need to be trained in compliance requirements so they know the rules and what’s at stake.

    Similarly, compliance team members may feel that social media is low on their list of concerns, but they need to appreciate the value marketing brings to the bank, how marketing timelines work and why they need to review social media content quickly. Leaders can prioritize these conversations to establish open communication between the two teams.

    3. Bring the departments together to forge a strong partnership and find shared solutions.

    Bank leaders should arrange working sessions between marketing and compliance to finesse the social selling strategy and make sure it works for both departments. When does compliance language need to be followed exactly? When is there wiggle room? What process will the departments use to approve content (a requirement by regulatory bodies)? What does the timeline for social selling campaigns need to look like to prevent unnecessary delays and ensure both parties have enough time to weigh in?

    By encouraging marketing and compliance to collaborate on these and other key questions, leaders can accomplish two things: clear, on-brand communications that do not open the bank up to unnecessary risks and minimized tension between the two departments.

    4. Invest in tools that meet each department’s needs.

    Leaders can support both teams and encourage collaboration by investing in the right technology. Collaboration tools to enable easier sharing and automated approval workflows, for example, can go a long way toward easing tension and ensuring continued communication between marketing and compliance. Digital tools can help teams collaborate more efficiently, but it’s up to leadership to support that innovation and embrace new technology.

    Social selling can be a big marketing win for banks—but only if the content employees are posting doesn’t land the bank in regulatory hot water. To ensure social selling success, bank leaders must bring together marketing and compliance teams, educate them on their unique goals, and encourage collaboration to draft and approve impactful, compliant social media language.

    This article was originally published on ABA Bank Marketing.

    When used correctly, social can be the smartest, most useful tool in any advisor’s networking tool kit.

    If you’re not on social media yet, it’s time to catch up. And even if you’re already connecting with prospective clients online, these four tactics can help you expand your network.

    1. Define your ideal audience.

    Successful advisors know their unique competitive advantage and use it to define their practice and specialties. Now, think about the particular type of client who can benefit most from what you have to offer.
    Once you’ve defined the persona you’re best suited to serve, use search functions on social media to narrow down your prospecting.

    For example, if you’re interested in helping young adults figure out their finances, you might use LinkedIn to identify recent college graduates or people who’ve been in the workforce for only a few years. Your outreach strategy should be created with that audience in mind.

    2. Search for shared social connections.

    Unlike traditional networking, social media makes it possible to skip past cold outreach and jump straight to warmer leads. Social media can help you easily identify people with whom you have at least a second-degree connection. By reaching out to your friends’ friends to connect, you start off the relationship from a shared connection point, which can make it easier to establish trust.

    3. Personalize your messaging.

    Sharing the standard language over and over again about your products or services on social media isn’t likely to catch anyone’s attention, and it certainly isn’t fuel for relationship-building. If you want to foster connections with your network, you need to personalize your messaging to speak right to your audience.

    Do your research by staying up to date on your connections’ social profiles, and use the information you find to personalize your messages. For example, if you see people in your network post about looking for a new home, you will know they might benefit from more financial guidance on mortgages and homebuying. Reach out with helpful info and encouragement.

    4. Engage without an agenda.

    When you’re aiming to expand your network and engage with more prospects, be genuine in your interactions. When you first connect with someone, the goal shouldn’t be to pitch products or services. The goal should simply be to build a real relationship. To do that, you must first engage without any agenda. Like and share your connections’ posts, congratulate them on milestones, and add value to the conversation whenever possible.

    Eventually, your connections will need the services of a financial advisor. If you’ve interacted with them on social and displayed legitimate interest, you’ve already established a layer of trust. You’ve become a familiar face, so they’re likely to turn to you for help. Until then, the only goal should be to build strong, trusting connections with your network.
    Social media is a great networking tool, but it’s only a tool. Its real value depends on how you use it. When you engage with genuine interest, bring a human perspective to your messaging, leverage shared connections, and understand your target audience, you’ll grow your social reach and continue to build a stronger network.

    The coronavirus pandemic made it clearer than ever how important it is for banks to connect with their customers and communities.

    With disrupted business operations and social distancing, social media has become a more important outlet for forging relationships and maintaining outstanding customer service.
    To get the most out of social media, however, banks need to go beyond posting on their own pages. Instead, they should turn to their employees to be the voices of the brand.

    When employees distribute approved content through their personal accounts –a strategy known as “social selling” – they can humanize the brand, increase social reach and deepen customer engagement.
    Why is social selling so effective? For starters, the average employee is going to have 10 times more connections than a bank’s page, according to one LinkedIn report. In terms of pure numbers, this means significantly more eyes on branded content.

    Secondly, humans are more likely to trust messages that come from other humans versus brands, giving social selling content immediate credibility. Customer trust has always been vital for banks, and that’s truer than ever during this crisis.

    Finally, social selling tends to generate a higher ROI than traditional marketing campaigns. The same LinkedIn report cited above found that salespeople who used their own social media pages for selling were nearly 60 percent more likely to generate leads.

    Laying the foundation for success

    With social media use surging overall — one study found usage rates are up 61 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic — now is an opportune time to begin a social-selling campaign to educate and engage customers. Here’s how banks can start building a strong framework for executing a successful strategy:

    1. Create a culture that embraces innovation. Innovation doesn’t just happen overnight. You need to put strategies and processes in place to encourage a culture-wide shift. The key is to encourage employees to come forward with new ideas and recognize them when they do. By giving employees a voice and a platform for expressing their ideas, you can help them feel more engaged. As a result, they’ll be more receptive to new ideas from leadership — like social selling.

      When the pandemic is finally over, remember that you don’t have to automatically go back to the old ways of doing things. If your social media strategy accelerated during the COVID-19 shift, why revert to outdated tactics? Analyze what’s been working and seize the opportunity to champion a more innovative, effective social strategy moving forward.
    2. Build infrastructure for an easy and compliant process. There’s a lot more to a successful social-selling campaign than asking your employees to post content on their own social media accounts. Structural support is essential, especially when it comes to ensuring all content stays in compliance with important electronic communication regulations.
      Bank leaders can create clear structure within the social-selling process by investing in technology to streamline approval workflows, creating comprehensive social-media policies, providing benchmark goals and holding training sessions for active associates.

      Along with ensuring compliance, the goal should be to make the process as smooth as possible so it’s not a burden for employees. Thoroughly educate them on the what, why and how so they understand precisely what they need to do, why it’s beneficial to the bank and the processes they need to follow for a successful and compliant campaign.
    3. Lead by example. If you’re asking employees to post branded content on their personal social media accounts, you need to do the same. Leading by example by maintaining a strong social media presence is the most effective way to demonstrate to associates that your social selling campaign is a priority.

      Studies have found that people generally appreciate when company leaders are active in sharing company news and relevant educational materials online – this demonstrates transparency and promotes leaders as experts in their fields. For instance, a survey of American readers of financial outlets found that 78 percent believe it’s important for CEOs to use social media to communicate about their organizations.

      With a smart social-selling campaign, a bank can build strong relationships with customers, share valuable educational resources and become a trusted voice in the industry. Taking the steps above to lay the right foundation can help your bank’s social-selling campaign be successful now and in the future.

    This article was originally published on BAI

    Consumers gravitate toward community banks in part because they enjoy supporting locally owned businesses.

    That relationship should be reciprocal — as customers support your bank, give back to them by supporting their community.To show your commitment to giving back, you need to tell audiences your community involvement story — and the most natural vehicle for doing so is social media. There, you can showcase your bank’s involvement while also engaging community members in real time.

    To start, recognize that your best social media tools are your employees.

    When employees share branded content on their own social pages, they can have much further reach than your bank’s official accounts alone. Plus, there’s added authenticity when marketing messages come from people instead of brands.

    One of the easiest ways employees can show off your bank’s involvement is by sharing content from events they already are attending under your brand’s name. For example, if your team sets up a booth at the county fair, have an employee take a photo and write up a quick quote about what a good time they’re having. Community members who see this content online will appreciate the involvement and share your team’s excitement.

    Sharing customer success stories is another great way employees can strike a relatable chord.

    If one of your loan officers helped a young couple close on their first mortgage, for instance, the officer could share a photo and the story behind it. Many people will relate, which helps your brand draw connections and shows how your employees contribute to the greater good in your community.

    A photographer doesn’t have to take these photos, either — a simple iPhone picture can actually feel more authentic. The key is to be real with customers on social and share content you know will resonate.
    When sharing community-oriented content, remember the importance of tagging, sharing and engaging in conversations. When an employee posts about your booth at the county fair, for example, they could tag the company that ran the booth next to yours and tell the audience they had a great time with other local businesses. The business might share that post and expand your reach to an even larger audience.

    The same goes for the young couple who just secured their first mortgage — the loan officer can tag them in the post so they can share that moment with their networks as well. And if anyone comments on these posts with questions, employees can jump in to answer. Audiences will see not only your team’s involvement, but also your continued engagement.
    These tactics might seem simple, but they can go a long way in demonstrating your commitment to the wider community. They’re often the most commented, liked, and shared content across bank social channels.

    Of course, anyone in the financial industry knows social media comes with hurdles. Due to FINRA, banks face an added layer of scrutiny for electronic communications. Violating regulations could mean steep fines, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars. Additionally, considering that many community banks have small teams and few marketing resources, compliance concerns are valid.

    However, there is a way for even small community banks to have a bustling social presence without violating FINRA regulations.

    Have your marketing team put together batches of content that compliance teams can pre-approve for employees to share. A library of pre-approved content allows for regular and consistent posting without the fear of violating regulations. From there, build an easy-to-follow compliance and approval workflow for any comments, messages, or other engagements your employees might have with customers on social.

    By elevating your bank’s community involvement on social media in a compliant way, you can strengthen relationships with existing customers and secure new ones. Be authentic, show off your community relationships, and engage with your audience members. They’ll thank you for it!

    This article was originally published on BankBeat.

    In the banking world, where handling money safely and securely is a foundational element of the entire industry, having the public’s trust is a nonnegotiable element of success.

    The financial industry had to scramble to rebuild this trust after it took a hit during the Great Recession, but efforts paid off slowly but surely. In the past eight years, trust in the financial industry has grown by 12 points.

    There is still work to do, however. Banks can continue waiting for the public to grow more trusting of the financial industry over time, or they can take the lead in accelerating growth by using every tool at their disposal to bring trust to its highest levels yet. We’ve already seen this kind of sprint pay off in the financial technology industry, but traditional brick-and-mortar banks can take note and play their own part in fueling the acceleration of public trust.

    As traditional banks started their slow ascent toward trust, fintech companies leaped ahead, building customer relationships that were digital-first and rooted in a stellar experience. By creating well-designed, easy to use apps, these companies not only impressed current users, but also inspired them to spread the word through online reviews and social media. This increased their reach and boosted the public’s trust in them. Fintechs soared in popularity while banks struggled to regain ground — but now, traditional brick-and-mortar financial institutions have the opportunity to leverage similar strategies using social media to build back trust.

    Because social media is rooted in authentic conversation, it provides a natural opportunity for banks to shape their stories and engage consumers. What’s more, banks have the upper hand because they have physical locations and teams of employees that can interact with customers and guide them through their financial journeys. Pair this with a solid social strategy to build authenticity, and consumers will see your institution more like a trusted partner and less like an impersonal financial brand.

    4 ways to build trust in your bank through social media

    Social media isn’t just for young people and early adopters anymore — it reaches everyone. For example, 86% percent of Baby Boomers use social media on a daily basis, which is only 3% less than Generation Z. Each social platform has varying demographics that might respond to specific messaging in a different way, which gives banks the opportunity to develop dynamic storytelling opportunities and create two-way conversations at scale. Social media presents a new way for banks to approach the public that moves beyond the old-fashioned notion of sales pitches and traditional advertising. By creating an ever-present, responsive, and helpful dialogue with the public, banks can improve their brand’s visibility and reputation while restoring trust in the industry as a whole at a rate that would have previously seemed impossible.

    The question for banks, then, shouldn’t be whether or not to take advantage of this medium, but where to begin. These four social media tips can help your financial institution accelerate trust while creating lifelong customers:

    Think “people,” not “brand.”

    Although having a brand presence on popular social media channels is helpful for boosting visibility, creating trust requires more than that. You need to create a human connection by using people. Encourage your employees to be active on social media on behalf of your brand to not only improve trust, but also increase your reach significantly

    According to one study, messages from brands went 561% further when employees shared them than when branded accounts posted the same thing. People also shared the messages employees posted 24 times more often. Audiences relate more to a human being behind a social account than that of an entire financial brand.

    Hold your social media experience to the same level as your branch experience.

    You know the importance of top-notch customer service at your branch. When your bank teller says hello to customers at the door and offers them a hot cup of coffee, they present your bank as a trusted, helpful partner. You should think about your social media presence in the same way. The experience of visiting your brand on social media should be as helpful as visiting your branch in real life.

    If someone visits your social media page, for instance, they should be able to reach out to a banker with any questions via direct message. Consumers, especially younger ones, want to be able to communicate with you on social media, so create a welcoming online presence they can interact with at ease. Also, be sure that any information they might need about your bank, such as contact information or location, is easily accessible when they visit your social profiles. That way, they’ll feel at home whether they’re chatting with a teller at your retail location or reaching out online.

    Recognize the importance of reviews.

    In an online world, reviews matter. A recent survey found that 76% of customers trust online reviews as much as recommendations from family and friends. Meanwhile, 82% of people reported that they are likely to avoid local companies that had negative reviews. In other words, positive reviews can be a game-changer when it comes to increasing trust, but negative ones can drag you down.

    You can use social media to amplify and solicit positive reviews, which strengthens your online reputation. If you had a positive interaction with a customer online, follow up with them and ask them to leave a review on places such as Yelp, Facebook, or Google. Then, share those positive reviews and other testimonials on social media. Did a customer just have an amazing mortgage closing experience? Share it. Did a branch employee go the extra mile for a local customer? Post about it. These user stories are often the first thing people read about your company — it’s important to make sure what they see is encouraging.

    Likewise, if someone posts something negative online, whether on review sites or through social media, follow up quickly to see how you can address their concerns. Sometimes, all it takes to transform a negative review into a positive one is reaching out.

    Don’t abandon in-person relationships.

    Although many customers prefer to do their basic banking online, that doesn’t mean your branches should close up shop any time soon. Most people still prefer a human touch when it comes to more complex transactions (such as financial planning or mortgage origination). In fact, 85% of people in the United States still prefer working with human financial advisors rather than digital ones.

    Use social media to reinforce these kinds of human relationships. Mortgage loan officers, for instance, can share content on their social media pages that helps young people understand how to start the homebuying process. They can encourage engagement on these posts and interact with audiences by answering questions and positioning themselves as the ideal partner for securing a mortgage.

    The general public is gaining more trust in financial institutions, but improvement is slow. Banks have a unique opportunity to accelerate that trust-building by improving the overall image of the industry while putting themselves ahead of the competition. By using social media to create human connections and respond to concerns in real time, banks can improve their reputations and push themselves to even greater heights — all while building a loyal customer base in the process.

    This article was originally published in International Banker.

    Phone and email are key components of customer service but have limitations. For banks and credit unions that know how to use it, social media can be an effective and efficient service tool that builds trust. Four best practices will enhance its impact.

    With the near-term prospects questionable for consumers to simply be able to walk into a bank or credit union branch and have face-to-face conversations with tellers or loan officers like they used to, institutions must find new ways to serve, connect, and build relationships with people.

    Phones are one option for providing customer service remotely, of course, but they’re staff-intensive, and many banks aren’t logistically set up for their teams to take customer service calls from home. Emails might be easier, but they can take up a lot of time, and customers expect more immediate responses to their questions and concerns. Social media is another option for quick and efficient communication that many institutions may not be using to full effect.

    An active social media presence allows banks and credit unions to serve customers’ short-term needs in a way that strengthens long-term relationships, especially during a crisis. In a report from Edelman on the impact of the coronavirus on brand trust,

    65% of respondents said that how brands respond during the crisis will have a huge influence on their likelihood to buy from those brands moving forward.

    Now is the time to put a stake in the ground as a customer service-centric institution and show consumers that you’re there for them on social media.
    Years from now, they’ll remember how you went above and beyond for them when they needed it most.

    4 Ways to Strengthen Customer Service on Social Media

    The full economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis is unknown — to say the least. Right now, financial institutions need to turn their focus toward keeping customers and avoiding losses. If you can educate your customers, advocate for them, and serve their immediate needs, you have an opportunity to maintain and build upon your institution’s business.

    Active, responsive customer service on social media is one of the few ways to have direct, one-to-one interactions with customers to provide assistance when they need it. Used properly social media can help you connect with customers, enhance your digital customer service, and be the trusted financial partner consumers need now more than ever. Four guidelines will enable this outcome:

    1. Connect with customers using direct messaging.

    If your bank or credit union isn’t already using direct messaging on social media to communicate with customers, it’s imperative you start now. Before the pandemic, social media and online messaging were already the preferred communication platforms for a quarter of Millennials, according to Bankrate. As social distancing leads more people to interact digitally, even more are turning to direct messaging through Facebook and other social media channels.

    Your customers will have pressing questions and needs during this crisis and its aftermath. Don’t leave them on hold or make them wait days or weeks for an email reply. Meet them where they already are through direct messaging.

    2. Respond as quickly as possible.

    The speed at which you engage with consumers on social media also matters. Good customer service means quick responses. In 2018, 76% of people expected brands to respond to comments on social media, according to a survey by Clutch — and 83% expected responses in 24 hours or less. Those expectations are even higher today. As consumers turn to your Facebook or Twitter feeds — with questions, compliments, and complaints — you need to let them know you’re listening. Respond quickly with helpful information that will make them feel valued and heard.

    3. Communicate proactively around the news.

    The ongoing flood of negative economic news relating to the pandemic isn’t doing a lot to ease consumers’ worries — and confusion might actually add to the panic. But you can proactively communicate around the news, breaking down important financial information in ways anyone can understand.

    The COVID-19 stimulus package, for instance, continues to spawn many questions. Many consumers have been wondering when they’ll be getting a check, how much it will be, whether they need to continue paying their mortgage or student loans, and more. Further stimulus measures will only bring more questions. Anticipate that your customers will be asking these and other questions, and step up to be the expert resource for helping them understand these often-complex packages.

    Providing customers with the financial information and explanations they need ties directly into every institution’s values of service — but it also gives your brand a chance to stand out as a helpful partner.

    4. Don’t forget the basics.

    As you’re working to respond quickly and educate customers about financial issues, make sure you don’t let the simple things slip past you. You must still provide basic information about your institution’s operations, especially as this information is likely to change.
    If you’ve been providing only drive-thru services or operating on reduced hours at your branch, for instance, and that’s now changing, tell people by announcing it on social media and updating your hours of operation. Trips out of the home are more precious than ever right now, and your customers will appreciate you respecting their time and effort.
    Social distancing may be the new norm, but customer service shouldn’t take a back seat to it. It’s more important than ever for you to be there for your customers in this uncertain time, and with such limited options, social media is a versatile tool for serving them.

    This article was originally posted on the Financial Brand

    As a trusted financial institution, it’s your bank’s responsibility to proactively communicate and share information with your customers to help educate them about and protect them from financial fraud.

    Read to learn what your bank should be sharing with customers in social media:

    As if these uncertain times aren’t hard enough, scammers are increasingly trying to take advantage of people when they’re most vulnerable. The Federal Trade Commission received 18,235 reports of financial scams related to the COVID-19 pandemic between January 1 and April 15; in that time, people lost $13.44 million to fraud.

    As a trusted financial institution, it’s your bank’s responsibility to proactively communicate and share information with your customers to help educate them about and protect them from financial fraud. Customers expect this from brands now more than ever: According to the “2020 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report,” 84% of people surveyed said they were looking to brands to share reliable information during this time.

    Being a useful source of information not only allows your brand to protect your customers, but it can also help your bank build further trust and form customer relationships that will last. In fact, the same Edelman report also found that 65% of respondents said the way a brand responds to this crisis would greatly influence how likely they are to do business with that brand in the future.

    As social distancing continues, however, helping customers and building relationships probably looks a lot different for most banks. With in-person meetings and branch visits off the table, social media is the best channel for your bank to reach and engage customers on important topics related to financial fraud. Here are the three most important points that banks need to communicate with their customers about the risk of fraud now:

    1. Tell customers how your bank will be communicating with them.

    Communications are rapidly shifting to digital channels as people must connect virtually, which means consumers might be more likely to respond to a bogus email, message, or text. Scammers are sending out phishing scams specifically targeting those in need during COVID-19. For example, one common scam is a text message from the FCC Financial Care Center (a program that doesn’t exist) offering money to those in financial need due to the pandemic and asking recipients for personal information.

    Scammers also impersonate real organizations such as charity groups or the IRS. To make sure your customers don’t fall for scammers trying to impersonate your bank and collect personal information, proactively tell your customers which channels you will be using to contact them. If they get a message from someone claiming to be you on any other channel, they’ll know to be suspicious.

    2. Share the warning signs of common financial scams.

    Scammers are innovating continuously and coming up with new ways to commit fraud, but there are some common warning signs you can share with customers. According to the FTC, for instance, customers should know that the government will never contact them without warning requesting personal information or payment. Customers should also know not to trust any communication asking for payment through Western Union, MoneyGram, or gift cards.

    3. Educate customers about the COVID-19 stimulus package.

    As COVID-19 stimulus checks start to roll out, confusion about where to get them and what to do with them has created even more potential avenues for fraud. It’s not business as usual like customers would expect with a tax return — and where there’s confusion, there’s risk.

    Share information on social media about what your customers should expect with their stimulus checks. Stay clear of speculative, potentially dubious news stories, and provide customers with trusted, government-backed sources of information.

    The boom in financial fraud and scammer activity gives your bank an important role amid the COVID-19 crisis. In order to build trust, protect customers from financial fraud, and be a genuinely helpful partner, communicate with your customers on social media to give them the information they need to stay safe.

    In this period of economic uncertainty, banks should help minimize panic among customers by handling the crisis with tact and living out commitments to financial education.

    How you respond to customers’ growing concerns will matter both in the short and long term, as being a helpful partner now will build strong relationships that will last.

    According to a coronavirus-related brand trust report from Edelman, 62% of surveyed consumers said they believe brands play a crucial role in combating the challenges brought on by the pandemic. An additional 81% indicated they must be able to trust the brands they patronize to do the right thing, and 84% said they rely on brands for news and updates about the virus’s impact, much of which has become increasingly alarming.

    People are worried and anxious about what the economic future holds. But they’re looking at the brands they trust to provide calm, collected, and informative responses.

    3 Ways to Be a Beacon of Calm on Social Media

    The world is panicking, but the last thing customers need to see is the institution they trust to keep their money safe also panicking. Banks owe it to their customers to remain calm and offer support through these uncertain times.

    As people fear another depression is on the horizon, the FDIC is reminding customers not to keep their money under the mattress. But if banks can be a beacon of calm now, they can keep their customers from panicking and — in the worst case — withdrawing.
    In this time of social distancing, social media is the best channel to both reach and engage customers directly. The pandemic has created an environment of alarm, but banks can project calm in their social media communication with the following strategies:

    1. Be proactive.

    There’s a lot of financial news flying around right now, and uncertainty around the coronavirus stimulus package is adding to the confusion and increasing speculation. Don’t rely on the government to communicate important information and updates that your customers need to know — your bank can be proactive and share that information on social media. If you make sure your customers’ needs (and not the needs of your brand) are driving content, you can reduce speculation.

    For example, the fast rollout of loans from the SBA recently created a flurry of confusion around scarcity. Banks were left scrambling to process mountains of applications, and much of this confusion remains. You can proactively communicate the facts about these loans to your bank’s customers, keeping them informed about what you’re doing to process and fulfill them.

    2. Be responsive.

    Even in pre-pandemic circumstances, 83% of consumers expected companies on social media to respond to their comments within 24 hours (or less). That’s the beauty of social media as a customer service channel: It allows for immediate two-way communication.

    Those expectations are even higher today. Given that the majority of consumers expect that quick of a turnaround when they’re not in crisis, imagine how badly they need your attention during one of the most uncertain times in recent history. You may not be able to solve every customer problem within 24 hours, but showing up, responding quickly, and answering questions in full will go a long way in making your customers feel taken care of.

    3. Be empathetic.

    When communicating with customers on social media and elsewhere, banks need to remember that this is a time unlike any other. Customers have lost jobs, businesses have shuttered, and no one knows what the economic future holds. Listen to your customers, reassure them, and remind them of your humanity. In the most trying times, empathy creates calm.

    In the same Edelman report, 84% of consumers said brands should use social media to offer social support. To do this, banks can humanize their brands by carefully allowing individual employees to post helpful, informational content and create one-on-one interactions with customers. Your employees’ reassurance on social media can spread a lot furtherthan anything you present on your bank’s company page.

    Any messaging coming from your bank and its employees should be consistent, however, so be sure to provide employees with clear guidelines for posting on behalf of your bank. These guidelines should outline the tone and voice in which you want your brand to be communicating during this crisis. You should also establish an approval process to ensure the right people — such as leadership or compliance teams — see each post before it goes live.

    With the ever increasing spread of alarming news related to COVID-19 and its economic impact, people are relying more on the brands they trust for updates and guidance. In an age of social distancing, banks must turn to social media to provide accurate, trustworthy information to help keep customers calm through one of the most unpredictable periods of their lives.

    As the impact of the coronavirus drastically changes the way people live and work, companies are understandably trying to fit their voices into the mix of content on social media.

    It makes sense: This is a make-or-break moment for brands in all categories.

    Share valuable, helpful information, and you have a tremendous opportunity to build trust and credibility with your audience. But consumer sensitivities are heightened — one bad social post could do long-term damage to your brand. Share tone-deaf or inaccurate information, and you could dismantle your credibility.
    Bank marketers need to be thoughtful and careful as they reevaluate their social media strategies and decide what to post during this time. Use the following questions as a guide to creating and posting content that will help you and your customers:

    1. Whose needs does this post serve?

    If your messaging serves the needs of your bank over the needs of your readers, don’t post it. Now is not the time for sales content, and a poorly timed sales message could have lasting negative consequences. Case in point: 71% of consumers said they would lose trust in a brand that seemed to put profit before people.

    Instead of posting sales-specific content, share valuable information for readers. Eighty-four percent of consumers want to see brand advertising that’s focused on helping people cope with changes during this pandemic. Share helpful resources, and you will be seen as a trusted partner now and into the future.

    2. Does this image accurately reflect society right now?

    Social media content isn’t only about copy — you have to consider imagery as well. If your posts include situationally unaware photos, consumers will notice as soon as they visit your page. Right away, they’ll be able to tell whether you took the time to consider the broader context of your content.

    For example, when states are mandating social distancing, stock photos featuring groups of people close together or physically touching will seem disconnected from the current reality. Be especially conscious of photos you share of older people, too. A picture of a grandparent hugging a grandchild might only make people more upset.

    3. Am I trying to be funny?

    Under usual circumstances, social media is an excellent place for humor — it can humanize your brand and boost engagement. But now is simply not the time to make jokes.
    Humor around a terrible virus would be in poor taste, and any attempt to make jokes around social distancing wouldn’t be worth the risk.
    For many, the reality of this crisis is literally life or death. Don’t try to make light of it. Instead, focus on helping and providing value.

    4. Where did this information come from?

    Especially as people practice social distancing in their homes, they’re entirely reliant on online media sources for news and guidance. But the spread of misinformation online has been a big problem throughout this crisis — the extent of it has even overwhelmed fact-checking organizations like Snopes.

    Spreading misinformation can hurt both your audience and your brand. One piece of poorly sourced news could cost you customers’ trust forever. If you’re sharing a headline, make sure it’s from a credible, nonpartisan news source.

    Social media is a valuable avenue for building your brand image and connecting with customers — and the stakes have gone way up. It’s important to make your voice heard as you try to help, but you must proceed carefully and kindly. Show people that you care about their best interests over your own profits, share relevant and socially aware information, and bring value to your customers when they need it most.