Don’t make the mistake Jeffry Pilcher's social media reality check for bashing.
"Most social media projects start with the tool, then look for a strategy," said Pilcher of The Financial Brand. "That’s like going into the garage grabbing any tool and then running around the house looking how to use it. You need to know what problem you’re trying to solve, and without clear measurable business goals, you’re wasting your time."
He added that is one of the reasons why most social media experiments are duds. "Banking is boring and the most precious commodity on earth is time," said Pilcher. "If you truly care about your members, find ways they can spend less time with your brand. Freeing up members’ time benefits them and may be a more productive area than social media."
For Pilcher the questions he’s raised about social media revolve around the fact that only 30% of credit unions have a social media strategy while 70% simply jumped in and crossed their fingers. In addition only 4% of consumers have ever used social media to connect with their financial institution, less than 1% of members "like" their credit union on Facebook and less than .5% of members follow their credit union on Twitter. The pervading myth that everyone should be doing it doesn’t hold true for small credit unions as only some of the tools are free. He quoted Aite Group’s Ron Shevlin "that most social media projects don’t have a shot in hell without a $100,000 budget."
"The costs are as much as any other marketing effort undertaken maybe more," said Pilcher. "I want to be clear I’m not saying social media is a pointless waste of time, just that you should apply the same strategic discipline to social media as you do in other areas. Build a social media strategy before jumping in."
He said social media has it merits–the best being for peer-to-peer networking, supporting community initiatives and public relations–particularly if integrated as part of a crisis communication plan. The key to building a strategy starts with not pitching it to management as "social media."
"Stop calling it that. No one really knows what you’re talking about. It means different things to different people," said Pilcher. "So if you want to be taken seriously ask yourself what problem am I trying to solve and create a product tie-in or create a product for your target audience. If you don’t integrate it then you’ll be struggling to find ROI."
He added that the efforts have to be supported with marketing muscle. "If you don’t tell them no one will come and inadequate marketing resources is why most bomb."
Social media can also be used effectively to capture contact information and to keep the member relationship going. Pilcher advised attendees to "ask for MCIF information at every stage of social media to find out who your members are and what makes them tick."
There are advantages to credit unions maximizing today’s key trading currencies of data and information. During her session entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Bank’s Customer: Today, Tomorrow and Beyond," Stessa Cohen, research director banking/investment services at Gartner revealed that an inability to look beyond the immediate customer relationship will be the single most damaging omission that financial services companies make over the next five years.
"We need to listen in on those social network conversations, see the data and information and understand why consumers are spending time there," said Cohen. "Networks are expanding and changing, embrace them all–not just your own, find a way to leverage them and figure out how you’ll support those customers."
She added that credit unions already have a lot of data on their members that can be used to develop value added services. For example, the most common mobile banking activity of young adults age 18-24 is not transactional but looking for branches and ATMs. Location based apps will grow, so in building a mobile financial services strategy look at areas where banking and payments overlap across all areas of the credit union and use a matrix to identify those products and services that can’t be done now but maybe can be created on mobile devices.
"Your customers have lives outside of banking. Look beyond the immediate financial services relationship, understand the influences that shape those lives and find new opportunities for product/services and ways to communicate with them," said Cohen. "Think how to move your credit union forward beyond the next five years."
Ultimately, the most surefire formula to get consumers talking on or off-line, Pilcher said is to have a remarkable brand and deliver truly exceptional experiences.
"That is what I hope you make your number one priority," said Pilcher.
Pilcher’s Social Media Reality Check
Pilcher’s Social Media Reality Check
no strategy no fans
no goals no followers
no focus no comments
no budget = no community
no time no sales
no marketing no new members
no product tie-in no success
no metrics no c-suite buy-in