Over the last year there’s been a lot of talk about social media. Between scandals around privacy at Facebook and the rise of TikTok, there’s a lot to take in on this subject. So here’s where we stand…
Social Media Remains a Popular Activity
According to Statista, “in 2019, 79 percent of the population in the United States had a social networking profile, representing a two percent increase from the 77 percent usage reach in the previous year.” But does just having a social profile really mean people are active on those networks?
In fact, people are using these profiles. Broadband Search reports that “In 2018, the average time spent on social networking was projected as 144 minutes per day, an increase of 1 hour a day, or 62.5% over 2012.”
So despite the move by some to want more privacy online, the overall draw to social media remains high.
And with Americans spending an average of 6 hours and 31 minutes on the internet each day, we know they have to be doing SOMETHING there, so banks and credit unions need to take notice.
Branch Transaction Volumes Continue to Trend DOWN
Most of us have heard the statistics about branch traffic moving down. The widely accepted number is that transactions have declined by more than 45% since 1992. But that is what’s already happened. We need to make decisions for the future based on what else is left to come.
According to Jeffry Pilcher of the Financial Brand, “Consumer visits to retail bank branches are set to drop 36% between 2017 and 2022.” He goes on to explain that “mobile transactions [are] rising 121% in the same period, as customers increasingly shift to accessing their banking information via apps and secure, responsive sites on their mobile devices.”
Does this mean branches are irrelevant? Absolutely not! But retail banking branches will need to compliment a robust digital growth strategy in order to remain impactful. And this strategy needs to keep mobile experience in the forefront.
With this shift to more mobile transactions, it’s worth noting that users will use desktop versions of websites less and less. All very important indicators of where banks and credit unions need to be focusing… on a Mobile FIRST strategy.
Mobile First + Social Relationship Building is the Winning Strategy
So as mobile usage increases, and social media adoption also continues to climb, it makes logical sense that financial institutions need to be present when people are on their phones, and this will need to involve being helpful and friendly on platforms where people are browsing (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.), and then having solid content and robust mobile versions of your website and mobile banking apps.
Gone are the days of creating a beautiful website for desktop, and then simply scaling it down for smaller devices. Instead banks and credit unions will need to be more intentional with their digital approach. Your mobile app and website should have more succinct content with very clear calls to action and a menu that is concise and intuitive.
Mobile experiences should connect seamlessly with smart phone capabilities and navigation should not send you from one window or app to another unnecessarily. The user’s mobile experience is just as important as the content they will see, and load times are KEY if you want to keep a user from bouncing to the next option in their search results!
Well-Designed Ads and Helpful Content will Continue to Win Out
Any social media strategy for a financial institution should include several key elements. First, you will need to focus your paid ads on boosting early stage or awareness types of content. As this is the best way to provide value to users while not interrupting their experience with overly sales-oriented offers or posts. Share blogs around how to budget or saving for a major life event rather than promoting special rates or promotions.
In addition to early stage content, keep in mind that social is still all about relationship building and serving your members or customers. So, institutions need to first think of being USEFUL to followers in as many ways as possible. THEN, you can slowly relate these posts or interactions back to your business services, but only when it is appropriate, natural and logical. You have to remain authentic or users will know you’re only in it for selfish reasons.
At the end of the day, the popular social platforms will change, but how to successfully reach customers on them will not. Being genuine and meaningfully engaged will ALWAYS be the keys to positive business growth in the end. But these efforts take time, so not having staff devoted to cultivating relationships online will have a negative impact over the long term.