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 If your social media strategy accelerated during the COVID-19 shift, why revert to outdated tactics?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