Wednesday, October 27, 2010

3 Essential Elements for
Successful Social Media Marketing

As a bank marketer, you’ve probably been tempted to simply jump into social media marketing. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube all seem so simple to use. And, all your bank marketing conferences have had speakers touting the benefits of this phenomenon. But wait, before you take the plunge you need to consider if you meet these three essential criteria for successful social media marketing. To date, many banks just haven’t accomplished a memorable strategy for social marketing primarily because they haven’t adhered to these principles.

1. Content must be relevant.
No longer are consumers content with fluff or purely promotion material. They want real information. Information that is educational, straight forward and easy to understand. By delivering content that is vital and relevant to your target market, you begin to take on an important role in your customers’ lives. There’s nothing more disappointing to finish some form of content – whether it be a web or e-newsletter article – and there’s just no substance to it. In fact, content marketing has now garnered its own niche and own budget in corporate marketing departments. Social marketing demands relevant content if you are to make any impact and attract consumers’ attention. Can you come up with fresh, intriguing topics on a consistent basis?

2. A solid structure or strategy must be in place.
Before your bank even thinks about social media, you must decide what you want or expect from your endeavors. What’s the goal? What do you want from your bank’s audience or consumers? Will your social media marketing have a retail focus or a small business emphasis? From there a formal plan is outlined, detailing how the various social media, and even traditional media, will interact with and support each other. Banks must include a strategy to promote their social media efforts. It’s not enough to just have a Facebook page. How are you going to promote and support that page? And, finally, as part of your strategy, you need to have a Social Media Policy in place. That policy will set your course through various possible pitfalls – from how to handle negative comments to employee participation on corporate social media. A risk assessment should also be part of that planning so you can address potential risks beforehand. Anticipate and you’ll have a successful program. Too many banks simply jump into social media with no thought to implementation or goals.

3. A commitment to the program is required.
For any social media program to work, the institution must commit to its implementation. In a word, timeliness. Since this is a conversational medium, you’ve got to keep the conversation or message going. . . through posts, commentary or response to commentary. And, there must be a commitment to promote your social media efforts on your other marketing programs through icons, links, RSS feeds, etc. Whether an internal department is designated or an outside firm is hired, there needs to be a devoted individual at its helm.

Be honest with yourself. Can you truly meet these three critical elements? If yes, then you’re ready to join the conversation. I’ll be looking forward to your posts.