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Social Media Optimization: The Banker Way

Social Media Optimization: The Banker Way

Eric Cook by Eric Cook

Chief Digital Strategist

Contact author Full biography

Full biography

Eric considers himself a “recovering banker” of 15 years, who for the past eleven years has focused his efforts as a digital strategist, helping his clients (mostly community banks) better understand and leverage the power of the Internet as a strategic business tool. An award-winning web designer with WSI, the world’s largest digital agency network, Eric is a two-time contributing author to the best-selling book Digital Minds – 12 Things Every Business Needs to Know About Digital Marketing. Consistently rated in the top five digital marketing books on Amazon, the book is in its second edition and available in three languages.

A sought-after, nationally-recognized speaker in the financial services industry, Eric is a member of the National Speakers Association and loves sharing his knowledge to help educate and inspire others. He is the co-creator of a weekly webinar show called Free Webinar Wednesdays, founder of the Banker Education Series webinar series, and serves as a faculty member at several banking schools around the country where he teaches bankers about digital strategy, online marketing and social media. He is a WSI Certified LinkedIn Professional and holds undergraduate degrees in business administration and psychology. While working full-time as a community banker, Eric earned his MBA and completed the three-year Graduate School of Banking program in Madison, WI in 2003.

Professionally, Eric helps his clients in all areas of digital marketing, which includes mobile-responsive web development, search engine marketing and optimization, social media strategies, e-mail communication, and “big-picture” digital strategic planning. He’s the co-founder of DigitalRCP.com, a service created to help businesses understand their risk when it comes to operating in today’s digital world. When he’s not helping his clients succeed online, he can typically be found on one of his many bicycles training for his next mountain bike/triathlon race or spending time with his wife and two (very spoiled) golden retrievers.

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Summary:

Social media optimization as a banker isn’t complicated, but it does require knowledge of each of the social media platforms that you’ll be using to connect and engage with your target audience. While there’s certainly no shortage of social platforms out there to pick from, I’m going to focus on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter since they’re more frequently used by banks. I’ll also discuss how banks should use social media and provide some tips on how to optimize their social media outreach. Read on for more information!

Social Media Optimization: What is it?

Social media optimization is like SEO (search engine optimization) in many ways. Priorities for social media optimization include: 

  • Ranking higher in followers’ feeds
  • Showing up in search results on the platform
  • Getting high-quality engagement on posts
  • Driving traffic to your bank website
  • Becoming a thought leader in banking
  • Publishing content that your followers will enjoy

Unlike SEO, however, social media optimization has different best practices depending on the platform. This makes it a bit more complicated than SEO. 

How to Optimize Social Media on Facebook

Let’s start with Facebook since it’s one of the most preferred social media platforms for banks. According to a Pew Research study on social media use, seven in ten Facebook users log in daily. About half of all Facebook users say they use the site several times a day, making it a fantastic resource for bankers.

Optimization Tips

  1. Keep track of your popular posts. Look at your insights to find out what posts have the most engagement and shares. When you know what’s effective, you’ll get more engagement and your page will be noticed. If you find that customers are more interested in your posts about how to save money than they are about credit lines, then cater your writing to that audience. 
  2. Separate organic and paid posts. Optimize your posts differently, depending on what they are. Your Facebook ads should all have a CTA, but your organic posts don’t necessarily need one for each post. The organic posts should be more informative and educational, with the use of any CTA directing people to your bank’s website for more information (like to check out the blog post that inspired your social post). 
  3. Promote your products and services. Facebook ads can certainly highlight your products and services, but you’ll want to organically mention them every once in a while. Just keep in mind, most of your audience is going to be interested in “educational” material, but if you can work in an indirect reference to the services you provide, that’s a great win-win. 
  4. Upload videos onto Facebook. Rather than linking to YouTube, Facebook likes it if you directly upload your videos to the platform. You’ll get more engagement that way (since Facebook knows people won’t be leaving their platform to check out your video). It just takes a bit of extra effort but it’s worth it if you’ll get better results for your bank. 
  5. Be transparent. If people post critiques or unkind comments, don’t ignore them - engage with them. See if you can make a real connection by responding honestly and transparently. In doing so, you’ll get better social credibility and you’ll also improve client relationships, which is especially important for banks. 

Bonus Perks

Here are a couple of tools you can use to optimize your page for Facebook: 

  • Iconosquare provides an instant audit of your Facebook Business Page with a score from 1-100. It’s a great tool for banks that are looking to improve their Facebook pages and providing your email address will allow you to get a detailed report of findings! 
  • Comment Picker helps you choose Facebook contest winners at random. If you’re hosting a contest, this is a great tool. Need contest ideas? Why not host a contest for reshares or ask customers to refer friends? Everyone who opens a new account can get a small reward but the ones who made the referral can be entered in for a bigger prize. 

iconsquare example

Above: The results of a recent audit of WSI’s own Facebook page from Iconosquare. We got a “Good!” but that doesn’t mean even we aren’t open to suggestions for making our page even better for our visitors! 

How to Optimize Social Media on Instagram

Since Instagram and Facebook go so well together (they are owned by the same company, after all), it’s easy to update without added time resources. Set your Instagram posts to automatically publish to Facebook, and boost posts on both sites to maximize your exposure. 

Optimization Tips

  1. Optimize your profile. First, make sure that your username is your business name (or as close to your business name as possible). Next, optimize your bio with hashtags and important keywords. You’ll definitely want to add “bank” or “banking,” but you’ll also want to use the locality of your bank and the different services you offer. 
  2. Use plenty of hashtags. You can use up to 30 hashtags on Instagram, although they prefer that you stay between 8-14. Try to use at least 8 in every post to ensure you get the most engagement you can for your bank. (If you’d rather not clutter your post with hashtags, comment below with them - it’ll still show up!)
  3. Use every format you can. Instagram has Posts, Videos, Stories, Highlights, Reels, and Instagram Live. While it may seem a bit overwhelming, consider at least trying all of the different options to maximize your exposure and see which one(s) resonates with your audience more. Some formats are better suited to special events/announcements at your bank (Live, Highlights, Stories, Videos) and others are better suited to more routine matters (Posts, Videos, Highlights, Reels). 
  4. Show off your products and services. Instagram has the largest influence on purchasing than any of the other social media platforms. Showcase your products and services here, and reap big-time benefits. Think about featuring your customers (with their permission first, of course) doing something related to how you helped them - like in their new home or standing in front of their shiny new car you helped finance!
  5. Add alt text for your images. Add important keywords that describe the image in the alt text of your post. This will make your bank posts more visible to those with disabilities. To update your post with alt text, go to your advanced settings. 

Bonus Perks

Here are some tools to better optimize your Instagram page: 

  • Later to schedule posts for another time. This tool is great if you have a lot of backlogged content or want to post when it’s most appropriate. Posts about preparing for income taxes, for example. 
  • Phlanx to calculate your engagement (Free trial for one month). This tool is a good way to see your engagement at a glance. They’ll tell you how many likes and comments you have, as well as the engagement rate. They even give you a guideline for average engagement so you’ll know if you need to up your social media game. 

phlanx example

Above: Screenshot from Phlanx on the social engagement rate of my personal Instagram account, @ericcook. You can see how I stack up against the engagement rates of the celebrities listed to the right (and you can too)! And no, I didn’t really search for them… LOL

How to Optimize Social Media on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is ideal as a B2B social platform, and a good resource to find potential employees. Keep that in mind and you’ll find that LinkedIn is a great platform for banks!

Optimization Tips

  1. Use a banner image. For pages, make sure you optimize your image with company branding. You can also promote your main products, services, and upcoming events using a banner image. You can add text to the image to let other LinkedIn users know what services you offer. If it’s an individual profile, be sure to include a banner that speaks to your personality and makes viewers want to connect with you.
  2. Publish content that’s already optimized. LinkedIn is about sharing links to other content. Because of this, you’re free to share links to your banking website. Just don’t forget to share other articles too, to change things up. (For example, you can post a helpful article on how to get organized for tax time.) And, when you share links be sure to always include introductory text that helps visitors get a sense of why you’re sharing the content. 
  3. Customize your URL. If you can, get your URL as close to your business name or the main keyword you want to optimize for. Custom URLs may not be available if someone else beats you to it, but you should definitely check! Oh, you should also do this for personal profiles too! 
  4. Make your personal headline pop. Don’t just list a job title. The headline can be up to 220 characters long (including spaces) and should be more of a personal branding statement that people can read and get to know you better.. 
  5. Be clever about where you place CTAs. You’ll want a CTA in your profile bio, but be careful not to add too many to your posts, since users may want to scroll past. Find the right balance of being helpful and adding CTAs to your posts.   

Bonus Perks

Here are some tools to help you get the most out of your LinkedIn profile:

  • PromoRepublic is our social posting partner (we brand it internally as WSI Social) and it helps us schedule posts, drive engagement, and gain insights on post-performance across a variety of social platforms.. It’s far less expensive than many of the other platforms out there and if you want to use it “through us” we can guarantee amazing support - since we’ll be the ones providing it! This is a great resource for bankers looking to generate the best content.  
  • Buffer is another great posting platform that allows you to schedule and post updates to a variety of social channels. It also has a slick image service called Pablo to help create images with inspirational quotes and conversation starters for your social efforts.

LinkedIn profile example

Above: An example from my own profile with a personalized photo (that’s me in the middle after one of my many banking school classes), as well as a customized Headline (notice the absence of a “job title”) making the most out of the available 220 characters. 

How to Optimize Social Media on Twitter

Twitter doesn’t have as many users like the above social media platforms, but it can still be a helpful tool if you use it properly. It’s a great place for real-time conversations, and especially for following conversations on breaking news items or connecting while at conferences or events.

Optimization Tips

  1. Like Instagram, use plenty of hashtags. You will need hashtags to be successful on Twitter, but you have more of a limit on them than you would on Instagram. Choose your hashtags wisely, but be sure to use them. Use the guidelines in the “Optimization Tips” section for Instagram for ideas on what hashtags to use.
  2. Reply back to all of your customers, even if they aren’t happy. Brands that use Twitter for customer service see a 19% increase in customer satisfaction. Twitter is a great way for banks to keep in touch with their customers (but keep in mind, the expectation is to respond quickly - so be prepared). 
  3. Host digital events. See if you can boost engagement for online events. It’s one of Twitter’s 10 optimization tips for 2022. Be sure to chat on Twitter as well!
  4. Consider cross-posting from Instagram. Sure, Instagram gives you the ability to share to Twitter from inside the app - but that only posts a link to Twitter (but it’s so much better if you have the actual photo to show)! Good news… you can use the service IFTTT to automatically share images from Instagram to your Twitter (and yes, this means the images show - not just a link).
  5. Use a trackable link. Include a trackable link using something like Bit.ly or event Google’s Campaign URL Builder to create a CTA or link to a featured product that you’d like your customers to be directed to (and then get all sorts of cool metrics on the back-end). 

Bonus Perks

Finally, here are a couple of tools you can use for Twitter:

  • TweetDeck does real-time tracking, monitoring, and engaging via an online dashboard that you create - and customize - depending on what conversations matter most to you. This is a boon to busy bankers since all the info you need is at a glance. 
  • Twinsta helps you share your tweets on Instagram (the opposite of the IFTTT tip above). Anything to make your social media easier! (If you use Twinsta, you can share the same information across three different social media platforms, as long as you allow Instagram to post to Facebook for you. Reserve this for very special announcements if you can, but it’s a great feature to have in place.)

TweetDeck example

Above: Snapshot of my TweetDeck dashboard. It gives me quick access to key conversations that I’m following with a column-based layout to organize and sort my Twitter feed with ease! 

Your Bank’s Social Media Secret Weapon, Powered by WSI

I hope you’ve enjoyed these tips on how to increase your bank’s impact and engagement with clients online. If it seems overwhelming at first, don’t worry. Banks on social media commonly find it tough to balance social media engagement with everything else they need to do in the course of a day (and don’t get us started when it comes to compliance, regulations, and all the other things you need to worry about). If you need help with social media for your bank, contact WSI today. We’ve been working alongside banks helping them with all their digital challenges since 2007.  You’ll be working with digital professionals who also know a thing or two about building bank websites, digital advertising, search engine optimization, and we’d love to help you out. Get in touch and let’s see how we can help!

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