Create value-not product pitches-at every stage of your buyer's journey. Simple ways banks can drive leads with social media.
At Hootsuite, I've seen social selling programs from many different organizations and perspectives. What I've observed is that social selling has transformed and matured over the past few years. Five or six years ago, social selling was about locating buyer-ready language. If a prospect tweeted-"I'm thinking about switching banks, any recommendations?"- a host of friendly advisors would be happy to respond.
But the problem with this approach is that buyers have changed. When starting their research process, consumers now have more choices and less contact with organizations. If a bank waits until a consumer thinks about switching banks or is looking to compare insurance rates, it could be too late.
What we are also seeing is that buyers are increasingly using social sources to shape their early buying criteria. Some of this research is direct, like asking friends on Facebook for investment advisor recommendations. Other types of consumer research are more difficult to track. For instance, when consumers compare your social presence to a competitor, their trust is influenced by the differing quality of social engagement.
The challenging (but also rewarding) part is that social doesn't sit neatly in one place of the sales funnel. It cuts across awareness, consideration, and action. The key is to be present for every step of the customer's journey. In order to be successful on social, you not only need content that drives sales, but you also need to be that trusted advisor and like-minded peer during periods between purchases. It's a longer game-but in the end you'll gain the trust and loyalty of your clients.
Of course for large organizations, it's not as simple as telling your advisors to go out and be likable experts. Oversight and governance, especially in regulated industries such as financial services and banking, are integral to executing an effective social program. I'll share some of the essential strategies that are producing results.
The training habits of successful companies
A study by Capgemini Consulting with the MIT Center for Digital Business found that 77 percent of companies consider lack of digital skills the biggest hurdle to their social transformation. As they put it, "companies get stuck trying to develop or acquire the right talent to achieve their digital goals."
Gartner also studied the social media efforts of 1,000 organizations, and found that "the vast majority of organizations treat collaboration as a platform decision, rather than a solution to specific business problems or a route to a desired outcome." This "provide and pray" approach to social tools has about a 90 percent failure rate.
In my experience, the three areas that I've seen produce the most impact come down to these things: education, enablement and innovation.
Giving your teams the digital skills they need to do their jobs better and faster is the most important step.
Look at your employees. You'll typically find three types of social media users. First, your Social Experts - this group may already use LinkedIn to build their personal brand and are looking to align their activity with your official social media strategy. On the other side of the fence, you'll meet people who are typically late to social media and set in their ways. Then there is the Movable Middle, they are your biggest advocates. They want change, but they need structure, daily practice, social tools and engaging content.
Design education that empowers each group. Your Social Experts need strategy frameworks and guidelines, while your beginners need some basic training and that Movable Middle, well they just need a confidence boost. So, give each group simple tasks and achievable metrics tailored to their skill level. Goals and guidelines like, "you're going to identify 20 leads from social every week. You are going to have 15 social interactions with current clients every month. Here is how to do this," helps employees understand and achieve their goals on social. By targeting these three groups, you'll be able to move them along the curve, and soon, you'll have thousands of Social Experts out there selling and connecting with potential customers.
Enablement involves giving people a program that makes it easy for people to practice what you teach.
Solutions such as Hootsuite's Content Library can help put these principles into action. For example, a global bank can provide access to professionally designed and approved assets that have been created in-house or by their agencies. That way, hundreds of thousands of advisors and employees can easily share authorized social content in their local markets.
Innovation is about looking into your own business to find new ways to apply social media.
My favorite example comes from our partnership with CENTURY 21® Real Estate. Their global social media team came up with the idea of "21 Minutes of Social," a program that brings together product training, education, and enablement. The program offers specific steps: spend this many minutes listening to your local market, use these tools to find interesting content, connect with three prospects on LinkedIn etc. It's clever and fits perfectly with their brand.
Get started by sharing your best work
It's your job to find ways to incorporate social media into things your organization is already doing well. Social media shouldn't be a burden on your advisors. There are many ways to do this. If you tell a story that clients love on the phone, tell that same story on your YouTube channel. Or get your advisors to record a YouTube video with the three most common questions they receive from clients. Post those videos on your brand's channel. When a prospect asks a question on Twitter or LinkedIn, your advisors can send them a link to the video. The brand is there, and your advisors have the opportunity to build their credibility with local buyers. All of this will become a digital footprint, a trail of conversations that prospects will discover when researching your products and services.
Your next steps
While this isn't a complete roadmap, it does outline the broad steps that I've seen work for companies around the world.