In 2017 I attended The Financial Brand Forum in Las Vegas, Nevada, and the Forum hosted over 1500 professionals in the financial sector for a 3-day conference, of which, I attended several breakout sessions on various topics...one session in particular is top of mind for this blog.
On day 2 of the Forum, I attended a breakout session about a large national Bank ($125 Billion in assets) and how they grew their revenue using social media. I was curious to hear their Director of Social Media speak on the subject to see what her findings were, and their overall strategy for success. One thing that was shocking to me about her presentation, was when she said her Bank wasn't on Instagram. When an audience member asked why, the Director of Social Media responded with "our Bank likes to take their time when deciding which social media platforms we should be on, and I'm not so sure where Instagram is going to go." I can understand her response, but I respectfully disagree with her...and here's why:
Don't wait. Run!
As we know, most credit union and community bank customer populations are aging. With over 700 million monthly active Instagrammers, the platform's primary age group is 18-29 years old (aka millennials), which is the perfect market for Community-based Financial Institutions to target to grow their customer base.
We know first hand that with the right marketing strategy, FIs can be very successful on Instagram. In fact, according to Hubspot, "In a world where visual content remains a crucial part of any business' marketing strategy, Instagram marketing presents a unique opportunity to visually represent your brand, celebrate its personality, and keep it top-of-mind for all those users who scroll through their Instagram feeds every single day."
Create a Strategy Aligned with Goals
When your institution is new to a social media platform, it is important to be realistic with your growth goals. Depending on how active your members/customers are on social media, it may take a few months or up to a year to significantly grow your audience on Instagram. Be patient.
The overarching goal with any social media platform, is to drive relevant traffic back to your FI's website, specifically targeting revenue generating webpages for a particular campaign. Growing followers on Instagram is just one piece of the pie.
We have a relatively new client who was just starting off on Instagram, and wanted us to help create a strategy to grow their audience there. The revenue goals behind growing their followers on Instagram were: 1) Grow their total assets by $1 million/month, 2) Increase average total services per household by .5, and 3) Increase total households served by 4,000 for the year.
We then created a strategy for their Instagram account to help accomplish these goals. Here are a few of our key strategy ideas for clients.
Don't overlook the importance of hashtags. These not only help you future develop your brand on Instagram, but help to expand your audience too. We received great advice from some of the best in the business, Jenn Herman and Sue B. Zimmerman, for creating a hashtag strategy. Sue and Jenn recommend a recipe for hashtag success which consists of at least 10-15 hashtags per post.
These hashtags should be a mix of popular (i.e. multiple millions of posts), semi-popular (hundreds of thousands of posts), and brand specific hashtags (hashtags that are specific to only your FI). This should not only boost your followers and engagement, but will help over time to get your Credit Union or Bank ranked in the top posts on Instagram for a particular hashtag.
Do your current customers know you're on Instagram? Build some excitement within your branches by offering special events around your Instagram presence.
We have a client that was new to Instagram and decided to create a "Follow Friday" campaign to get their members more involved and excited about their presence on social media. Their branches offer give-aways on Fridays including doughnuts, cupcakes, branded merchandise (i.e. key chains, water bottles), and dog cookies to their members to encourage them to follow their CU on social media.
The same Credit Union also set up a photo booth at one of their branches with props for members to take photos with a post them on social media. Brilliant idea!
Use an Analytical Tool to Fine Tune Your Strategy
Once we have a strategy in place for our clients, we then monitor its overall effectiveness and fine tune it over time. We have tried a few tools for Instagram analytics, but have found that Iconsquare meets our needs the best. Iconosquare allows you to measure performance, user-engagement, track competitors and hashtags, and optimize your strategy.
One very helpful element of Iconosquare, is that it can tell you when it's the best time to post depending on your followers being online. We know how dramatic results can be when content is posted at the right time. This is done graphically in Iconosquare (see below):
The tool also offers reports to be scheduled in advance and then emailed directly to you, or you can download results directly to a .csv file. These reports also help us in creating our own ROI reports for our clients, and ultimately in fine tuning their strategy.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help with your Credit Union or Bank's Instagram Strategy please email us today!
This blog was originally written for CUInsight and published here.