5 Stops on the Social Media Train
In the time I’ve been in the credit union industry, I’ve presented, and held webinars and live streaming events more than 60 times to talk about social media. I say that because, I enjoy the heck out of social media strategy-building, engagement, trends and figuring out how we can do it all better for ourselves and for your members.
Recently, I was lucky enough to get out of my cold basement office in Wisconsin (leaving my space heater behind) and get down to Miami for the #BankSocial conference to moderate a panel discussion about social media strategies for the financial industry.
During the conversation, I was reminded of the dual-life that social media many times leads for credit unions: It’s so simple and yet so complicated.
Yes, social media’s appeal is the ease-of-use. After that, it becomes this dark hole of analytics, regulations, SEO, “What the hell does Google want from me?,” best practices and unique qualities of each platform and why you should use them or not.
Let’s try and simplify this a bit and talk through some of the things to create a successful mindset for your social media.
First Stop, FFIEC
The Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council. While a mouthful, and the kind of reading that makes you sleepy, it’s the best place to start. While the FFIEC’s social media guidance is, to be fair, dry reading, it’s the best first step you can make. To understand what the group has ruled as advertising and social media, just read it. And if you’ve read it, read it again. You’ll have the best foundation and be in a better frame of mind concerning what’s possible and what’s not for your grand social media ideas for your credit union.
Second Stop, Social Media Goals
Think about this – really hard. What are your goals and objectives for your social media efforts? If it’s for more likes and followers, get off the train now. These goals, if you want to really be successful, should match at least some of your marketing goals and objectives (i.e. increase e-newsletter subscribers, drive traffic to your website, increase membership). The reason this part is so critical is then you’ll have a better shot at tracking ROI. The other trick here that a lot of people seem to forget: If you match your social media goals to your business/marketing goals and objectives, the executive team will have an easier time saying yes to you.
Third Stop, Audit Town
And this is the stop where a lot of people get off the train and/or simply go off the rails. This is where you must put in the time and work to take a close look at how your current social media platforms are doing. Who’s connecting with you? How are you stacking up with your competitors? I’m going to give a shout out to the fine people at Hootsuite, because they’ve created a great and free “Social Media Audit Template.” I’ve used it and I know a lot of others who have as well.
Once this full audit is done, you’ll have this beautiful and clear picture of what you have in front of you. Oh and this must be updated regularly. So, there’s that.
Fourth Stop, Set Up
Finally, it’s time to play. Now that you’ve read the rulebook, you have your objectives and goals, and the audit is wrapped up, the set up and work begins on the social media channels you’ve decided to use. I know, you’re probably thinking, “But I set up my social media accounts already!” Great! Reserving your credit union’s spot on all social media platforms is a smart thing to do. Now is when you go in and optimize the heck out of each platform. Because each social media channel has different standards, different features, different profile image sizes and different “About” sections that all need to be properly filled out to have your brand looking great (again, keeping in mind what the FFIEC said). My biggest suggestion at this stop is don’t leave anything blank in any section of the social media channels you’re using. You want full-on SEO for everything!
Last Stop, Content Plan
It all leads to this – creating a social media content plan. When it comes to content creation, it’s like following the rules of journalism: Who, what, when, where, why and how?
- Who’s your audience?
- What do you want to post?
- When is your audience most active?
- Where is your audience most active (what platforms)?
- How does your audience like their social media content delivered (text, photos, videos, gifs)?
Personally, I enjoy this mapping process and that therefore explains my possibly unhealthy relationship with whiteboards. But, I’ll tell you this: Going through each of those questions for your audience segments is such a great visualization process for your credit union.
It’s really this simple if you’re just looking to refresh or even get started for the first time on your social media ventures. Sure, there’s SEO, AI, algorithms, CTRs and all sorts of analytic things to think about. But that’s way over in the weeds. Keep it simple in your head and keep it simple for making your pitch to your executive team. They’ll appreciate it and you’ll have a much lower social media stress level. I swear. So, all aboard. Or not. Your choice.
Michael Ogden is Executive Editor for CU Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.