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How to Write a Social Media Policy for Your Financial Institution

August 7th, 2014 by Lisa Kanda

The expansion of social media in the workplace and for personal use has made it vital for financial institutions to include a specific social media policy within its policies and procedures. In the past it was easier to manage social media use by restricting access to sites on company systems, but smart phones and the acceptance of using social media in marketing communications has changed the landscape. Policies are needed to provide guidance to employees concerning appropriate use and for financial institution’s to manage risk assessment. In addition, the release of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) guidelines has brought even more attention to meeting regulatory requirements.

8 Steps to Create Your Social Media Policy

Financial institutions that may be creating a policy for the first time do not have to reinvent the wheel. Many companies have implemented policies that are available online to assist in getting started. A comprehensive policy can be created using the following steps:

1. Form a Committee – Social media is not just a marketing communications tool, and the policy needs to address several areas that should include representation from marketing, compliance, human resources and upper management.

2. Research and Review– There are many social media policies that are available to use as templates and provide suggestions on what you may want to include in your policy. For your reference, here are links to resources to get started.

IBM Social Computing Guidelines

Visible Banking List

Social Media Policy Database

57 Social Media Policy Examples and Resources

Social Media Policy Template

3. Select and Prioritize – The specifics in your policy will align with your institution’s culture and values. There is no one-size-fits-all policy and your policy should fit with your other governing documents and employee handbook.

4. Convene the Committee – Committee members can lend their expertise to these specific areas to consider for inclusion:

  • define the institution brand presence on social media for marketing purposes
  • specify acceptable and unacceptable employee use of social media for business purposes
  • use of disclaimers
  • follow copyright, fair use and financial disclosure laws
  • define who can use social media on behalf of the institution
  • define who can speak on behalf of the institution on social media
  • define appropriate behavior when using social media in the workplace
  • guidance to dealing with negative comments
  • describe the types of content that cannot be published, especially in dealing with customer privacy issues
  • describe approval and monitoring processes
  • specify employee training that may need to be completed
  • identify roles and responsibilities for enforcement of the policy

 5. Write the First Draft – Present to appropriate management for review. Make any edits based on feedback.

 6. Counsel Review – Your legal counsel should provide final review.

 7. Present to Board for Approval.

 8. Communicate – Implement a plan for employee review and acceptance.

A comprehensive social media policy guides employees on acceptable use, defines social media marketing protocols, and is an important document for regulatory compliance. Social media use and activity will only grow and continue to evolve as technology changes. A proactive approach will allow financial institutions to also adapt and manage change while being mindful of the regulatory environment.

Do you have any examples of social media policies to share or comments to add to the steps above?

Bank Marketers: Will New Gallup Poll on Social Media Change Your Strategy?

June 30th, 2014 by Neal Reynolds

A recent Wall Street Journal article  states social media fail to live up to early marketing hype based on a newly released Gallup report. Bank marketers may want to look at this data to see if they need to update their social media strategy.

The article cites the Gallup poll reports a clear majority of Americans say social media have no effect at all on their purchasing decisions. The data is gathered from respondents from Gallup’s State of the American Consumer report.

Gallup_Poll_Chart

The poll was a Gallup Panel Web and mail study of over 18,000 U.S. adults and was conducted between December 12, 2012 and January 22, 2013. Some of the feedback identifies the timeliness of the poll and how quickly social media and consumer trends change in the digital space.

Of note, the Gallup report does state, “companies can use social media to engage and boost their customer base. Consumers appreciate the highly personal and conversational nature of social media sites, and they prefer interacting in an open dialogue as opposed to receiving a hard sell. And companies’ use of social media to provide timely responses to questions and complaints accelerates brand loyalty and, eventually, sales. When it comes to social media efforts, businesses stand to benefit when they utilize a more service-focused approach rather than one dedicated to simply pushing their products.”

A strategic approach will help bank marketers focus on goals and implement tactics that are tied to results. Data shows that companies now stress quality over quantity and social media must be tied to real business objectives.

Social Media Strategy Checklist

An audit of social media platforms used by your financial institution can reveal if your strategy includes engagement on social media and interacting with followers. Are your goals related to any of the following marketing objectives?

• Build awareness
• Increase web site traffic
• Improve search engine rankings
• Better understand your customers
• Improve customer service
• Identify new product ideas
• Strengthen relationships with customers, prospects, and influencers
• Generate leads
• Generate sales

Your social media strategy and results should be connected to the objectives you are measuring. A comprehensive review of your social media marketing plan may be needed to change your focus to get results. Does this information change the way you approach social media for your bank or credit union? Share your thoughts on the Gallup findings and if that will change your approach to using social media.

Three Steps to Discovering What Your Bank Customers Really Want

May 30th, 2014 by Neal Reynolds

Most people see their banks and/or credit unions as something they need but do not easily differentiate why they should use one from the other. So how can a financial institution stand out from the pack? By discovering what products and services their current customers and target markets really want from their financial institution.

Have you ever been asked to complete a survey, give your feedback, or rate the service you received from a company where you’ve done business? If so, you know how important it is to provide valuable input when asked.

Bank marketers have an opportunity to take the lead in the discovery process so products and services are marketed to solve the problems of your customers. To do this, active listening and observation are keys to finding out what keeps your customers up at night, prevents them from getting their job done, or makes life difficult for them.

If you ask your customers what products, services or features they want, they will only give you part of the answer, because in most cases, they don’t know what they want. They only know the problems that they need to solve.

For example, a medical practice receives 300 checks a week that need to be deposited. The office manager only knows they need a faster way to process and deposit the checks. While their solution may be to hire a part time employee to assist in this task, you can provide a solution with remote deposit capture. If they knew how to solve the problem, they wouldn’t have it any longer. Ask what they need, but you determine what the solution is.

Bank marketers can proactively seek their customers’ needs and discover what they want by implementing a three step feedback process.

1. Empower employees to listen, ask questions and observe.

Anyone who interacts with customers can provide feedback by paying attention to how the customer acts, can ask questions if they observe the customer may need assistance, or observe that a system or process is not customer friendly. Employees are a valuable resource to identifying problems customers may have and a process should be in place so they can freely share this information back to management and marketing for review and action.

2. Implement a feedback system through surveys on your web site and email.

Surveys give you the opportunity to measure awareness of your products and services; can aid in discovering the effectiveness of your branding and positioning; and can help you understand the attitudes, motivations, and preferences of your customers. They give feedback to specific interactions customers have with your institution and offer a fast way to discover if they have a positive or negative customer experience so you can make actionable changes. Surveys also help uncover the problems your customers experience so you can seek appropriate solutions to implement.

3. Monitor, engage and track social media feedback and conversations.

Many people have found social media a place to voice their opinions, especially when they are unhappy with the service they receive. Financial institutions can proactively monitor social media channels to find competitive information as well as problems that receive the most complaints from customers. This information can be integrated in research for product and service offerings. Banks who are active on social media with their own pages can also ask the public for feedback, post links to surveys on social media, and engage with their fans when they post on their social media sites.

Bank marketers can differentiate their institutions by speaking the language of the customer and solving their problems. Only then will your target market know that your institution is the choice for them – because you know what they need and offer their solution.

How does your bank or credit union discover what your customer wants?

Top 10 Marketing Questions for Bank Marketers in a Social World

May 2nd, 2014 by Lisa Kanda

Remember the day when having a web site was the number one task on your list? Fast forward 10 years, and now the bare minimum requirement that banks need in order to be found and connect with their prospects is a website. Social media, search optimization, analytics, customer feedback are now just as important to implementing a strategic marketing initiative for your institution. Is your web and social presence measuring up? With technology changing at the speed of light, it takes constant monitoring and oversight to keep the pace. How can you enhance your institutions web and social presence?

  1. Is your web site mobile and social ready?
    The use of smart phones and tablets continues to grow rapidly. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of cell phone owners now use their phone to go online, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. Is your web site mobile responsive so that viewers on their mobile devices can find the information they need and have a positive experience viewing your web site? In addition, do you have social media icons prominently displayed on your home page so visitors can easily connect with you through social channels?
  2. Are you easy to find?
    While many may view search engine optimization as very complex and daunting, there are some basic things you need to do to help your institution get found in search or on mobile devices. “Brick and mortar” institutions that have a street address need to optimize for local search. This means claiming your page on Google Plus Local (because it’s Google), adding Google maps to your web site, and submitting your web site to location based web sites such as Foursquare.
  3. Are you playing by Google’s rules?
    The latest Google algorithm update, Hummingbird, put more emphasis on content creation and social media. Do you add new content to your web site at least once a week? While some institutions add new content through press releases and articles within the web site, adding a blog to your web presence will enhance your search rankings and also provide content to share on social media platforms.
  4. Are you using social media strategically?
    Not all social media platforms are equal and, as noted above, it’s important to be active on social media to help with Google search. But, the platforms you use and the content you share needs to be relevant to the markets that use them. Facebook is known for B2C interaction while LinkedIn is predominantly used for B2B connections. Google+ has a larger male presence while Pinterest has a larger female presence.
  5. Do I hear crickets when I visit your blog or social media sites?
    There is nothing worse than going to a blog or Facebook business page to find the last post was more than one month ago. Post to blogs and social media frequently and consistently for your customer and prospects to take you seriously. In addition, content added consistently is also important for Google search.
  6. Do you have a plan?
    Creating content, scheduling social media posts, and tying all the marketing and promotional activities of the institution together will take planning and execution. A proven method is to divide the tactics into smaller chunks. A blog and social media editorial calendar is useful to plan daily and weekly tasks to create consistent and timely content and updates. These should integrate with the marketing plan action items as they relate to your promotions, events and other activities.
  7. Are you talking to humans?
    “Bank speak” can sometimes creep into marketing materials, web site content and social media posts. Be aware that social media is “social”, so content needs to be engaging and invite interaction. Be careful not to speak “at” your audience and practice speaking “to” them. Imagine you are talking to a person on the other side of your communication.
  8. Are people talking about you?
    Including testimonials on your web site is a must. In today’s social world, people look for referrals and recommendations from their friends, family and peers. For this reason, it is important to also get reviews on social media platforms and on Google+.
  9. Are you using tracking systems?
    Google Analytics offers a wealth of information about how people are using and finding your web site. Social media platforms also have their own analytics tools to help measure reach, engagement and activity. Are you reviewing this data at least monthly?
  10. Are you listening to feedback?
    Feedback can come in many forms, but have you incorporated a system to use this information for enhancing your message? Tracking systems provide data to adjust various factors in your web and social presence. Social conversations also can give insight to trends and issues your target market may be experiencing.

With technology changing at the speed of light, it takes constant monitoring and oversight to keep the pace. How can you enhance your institutions web and social presence?