With Facebook and Twitter dominating the social media scene, LinkedIn has been, for the most part, waiting to join the conversation.
Or has it?
According to research by The Financial Brand, many financial institutions have more followers on LinkedIn than they do on Twitter. In general it found that when it comes to financial institutions generating the most social connections, the pecking order is Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube.
A search by The Financial Brand on LinkedIn revealed 5,228 banks with company pages worldwide, of which 2,284 were based in the U.S., and 2,015 credit unions worldwide, 1,308 U.S.-based.
"I think really it’s a lot of the same narrative in the past about social media that financial institutions hear about the pressure of you’ve got to be involved in social media," said Jeffry Pilcher, publisher of The Financial Brand. "So they go out, create these pages, put an icon on their home page to show they are using social media."
That’s a problem.
"My conclusion is it’s better to be strong in one social media channel," said Pilcher. "Learn to crawl before you walk or run. Don’t say your using LinkedIn or any social media channel if all you’ve done is created the page years ago and never touched it. The perception will be that you’re just a poser who wants to be accepted and that is a brand misfire. In trying to communicate one thing, you’ve actually left the exact opposite impression."
Of the 100 banks and 100 credit unions with company pages Pilcher reviewed, only six banks and no credit unions made complete use of all of the basic features available on LinkedIn from incorporating Hero photos, personalizing their summaries and populating the products tab, to adding video, using the career tab and using the featured updates option to highlight best options.
"Don’t bother promoting social media accounts you aren’t fully engaged in," said Pilcher. "If the last time you updated that channel was six months ago you do not need a link to it from your home page."
Pilcher does not suggest every financial institution must be on LinkedIn now that it’s growing. He joked that it is still for many fourth in line to the throne, which for most financial institutions is Facebook.
"The question is not, ‘should I have a Linked profile,’ but ‘what do we want to do on LinkedIn? Who is our audience? In general, it’s been either a recruiting tool, networking tool for job seekers or making other connections," said Pilcher. "It’s populated by more business-oriented people, so if you are not targeting small business or using it as a recruiting tool, then you need to ask, ‘what’s your purpose in being on LinkedIn? What do you want to accomplish?’ If you are on there then familiarize yourself with the features, make use of them and be sure the content posted is appropriate for the LinkedIn audience."
He added that social media administrators at credit unions should be reviewing their channels for the latest updates at least once a month and work with their IT departments to incorporate reference codes in each channel link to track results and engagement.
"Don’t just look at your own page: Have some financial institutions or companies that you think are doing a good job of staying on top of LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, etc., bookmark them in your browser and audit them," said Pilcher.