All social media platforms are not created equal. To increase engagement rates and the odds of connecting with your ideal audience, tailor your social media content uniquely for each platform. It’s helpful to take a step back and look at the demographics, audience reach and purpose of each platform, and then identify how they relate to your firm’s overarching goals. Throughout this blog post, we offer suggestions and considerations for financial services firms that are seeking to appropriately differentiate and tailor content for each of their social media platforms.
There are 562 million LinkedIn users, 40 percent of whom are active every day. It is the No. 1 platform for sharing Business-to-Business (B2B) content, with 80 percent of B2B leads stemming from LinkedIn– towering above Facebook’s 7 percent. Encouraging peer-to-peer interactions, LinkedIn helps foster communities of like-minded individuals, resulting in a prime environment to facilitate industry discussions and make key strategic connections.
- In addition to job postings and personnel updates, thought leadership and firm-specific content perform the best on this platform, which lends itself to more in-depth analyses and discussions.
- Within your posts, ask questions to foster engagement with your followers and your followers’ connections.
- Harness your employee network on LinkedIn by encouraging employees to post and share firm updates. After all, an endorsement from a friend or acquaintance is the most powerful form of advertising, which is essentially what your employees are doing when they share your firm content.
- To capitalize on LinkedIn’s B2B lead generation potential, experiment with promoting your posts. As the largest database of business professionals, LinkedIn allows B2B businesses to target audiences by a host of specific criteria including job title, education level and company.
- Use LinkedIn’s “Page Analytics” to track visitors, page views, and post metrics for your page.
Frequency and Timing
- LinkedIn is a slower-moving platform, so posting 2-4 times a week ensures visibility without the risk of spamming connections’ feeds.
- The middle of the week wins out; Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are the ideal days to debut content on LinkedIn.
With more than two billion active monthly users, Facebook offers the widest audience and usage numbers- around two-thirds (68 percent) of U.S. adults use Facebook.
However, organic reach on Facebook has been in decline for years. News feeds cluttered with advertising content mean a more competitive marketing environment as businesses throw elbows for visibility. Aggravating the situation, Facebook recently altered its news feed algorithm in a bid to combat this mess of advertising. Head of News Feed Adam Mosseri announced in Jan. 2018 that the algorithm would be adjusted “to make News Feed more about connecting with people and less about consuming media in isolation.”
Another consideration is the demographics of Facebook users. Seventy-four percent of women use the platform, compared to 60 percent of men. And although 81 percent of those aged 18-29 use Facebook, that number is declining as older users flock to the site; 44 percent of millennial users have deleted the Facebook app from their phone in the past year, almost four times the rate of users aged 65+ who have done so.
- Financial services firms should use Facebook to share more basic, educational content, foster community among employees or connect with people on a more personal level.
- Developing a friendly and informative tone establishes your firm as an approachable and useful resource to current and prospective clients.
- Use images; Facebook posts with pictures see 3 times more engagement than those without.
- Take advantage of the built-in “Page Insights” feature to assess the metrics of your strategy and reevaluate. Note the posts that receive higher engagement and analyze why they were successful.
Frequency and Timing
- For optimal reach and engagement rates, aim to post anywhere between 3-10 times a week.
- Posts on Saturdays and Sundays saw 32 percent more engagement, with Thursdays and Fridays also boasting higher engagement rates (18 percent).
Twitter is a fast-paced content-sharing platform that fosters quick engagement with industry peers, media contacts, and current and prospective clients. With timelines flush with breaking news and instant updates, Twitter presents an easy way to participate in industry conversations in real-time, allowing you the opportunity to position your firm as an active expert. However, this entails timely responses and continuous posting of fresh content.
- Tweets must be 280 characters or less, and any links you include will eat up 23 of those. To thrive within these constraints, create concise content that hits at the main themes right away. Don’t balk at the occasional “text-talk” or word abbreviations to hit this target (think “w/” instead of “with” or “&” instead of “and”) but stay professional – avoid type such as “u” or “lol.”
- Use Retweets, Quote Tweets and Likes to strategically interact with those around you.
- Quote Tweets allow you to contribute your own thoughtful spin to add value for your targeted audience
- Liking a post construes support but doesn’t always carry the post into the feeds of your followers as Retweeting does.
- Exercise caution with liking, though, as the algorithm selectively chooses some “likes” to publish to your followers.
- Twitter is a great community for introducing personality into your social media strategy. Experiment with features like polls, emojis and gifs; this is the platform best suited for quick wit and community engagement.
- To stand out in this rapid-fire environment, use high resolution, compelling images or videos that are relevant to the content matter. Consider branding photos with your company’s logo.
- Engage hashtags, albeit sparingly and strategically, to highlight important themes and join discussions on national trends and topics.
- Twitter’s Analytics measures impressions, profile visits, and Tweet activity. Analyzing engagement rates for different Tweets can provide insight into what works for your audience.
Frequency and Timing
- Successful Twitter accounts tweet at least 5-10 times a week.
- Posts from B2B businesses perform 16 percent better during business hours, with Wednesday being the best day to post.
Instagram and other visual platforms
Recently reaching one billion active monthly accounts, Instagram has grown rapidly. Best suited for visual content, curating a successful Instagram strategy can be difficult for financial services firms. On Instagram, where users under the age of 35 make up over 70% of active accounts, consider creative ways to engage with the growing community even if your services don’t lend themselves to the camera in the traditional sense. Think outside the box: show off your brand by highlighting your community involvement, volunteer efforts, behind-the-scenes work, or other unique qualities that could translate to the medium. Feature the personality that makes your firm special; for example, an international portfolio manager might showcase his or her team’s worldwide travels, or a bank may document the four-legged friends that visit their public garden.
In the same visual vein, YouTube works well for firms that have quality video content to share. YouTube continues to lead as the dominant video platform, with roughly five billion videos viewed per day and reaching some 73 percent of adults. Consider engaging the use of video for “How-To” or “Behind the Scenes/How It’s Made” purposes. Keep videos concise to best engage the short attention spans of viewers. Use your other social media accounts to promote your videos and direct traffic back to your YouTube channel.
While Vimeo has a smaller, more niche audience than YouTube and ranks lower in Google’s search algorithm, it has more extensive privacy options, which is appealing to some financial services firms. The choice of video platform ultimately comes down to your business goals and target audience.
If your firm is subject to FINRA supervision, social media content must comply with FINRA’s rules on communications with the public. This includes content from both your corporate account and certain employee accounts that are used for business purposes.
While it’s relatively easy to make sure your firm and employees’ content follows basic “fair and balanced communications” rules, some firms trip up when it comes to sharing third-party content or linking to third-party websites. Third-party content must also be fair and not misleading.
Firms and registered representatives (i.e. “associated persons”) must retain records of social media communications related to their “business as such” for three years. FINRA’s advertising rules and guidance do not apply to an employee’s personal use of social media, but firms are on the hook to educate employees about the difference between personal and business use of social media. Recordkeeping requirements also apply to third-party content posted to your social media platforms.
Firms must determine if their existing archival processes and platforms are sufficient for handling social media content, or if dedicated social media archival platforms are needed.
Financial services firms can use any number of social media management platforms, such as Hootsuite and Hearsay Social, with which compliance personnel can review and approve social media content and monitor social media activity. Firms must supervise both static content and interactive communications such as real-time comments. According to FINRA, “Interactive material does not require principal approval prior to use if it is supervised in a manner similar to the way firms supervise correspondence and institutional communications.” Read more on FINRA’s website.
Carefully consider the demographics, usage habits and logistics of a social media channel before you enter it to ensure your firm has the capacity to develop quality content tailored for each channel. Don’t create a social media account simply to have one. If you cannot keep up with an account or properly monitor it, it is best not to have one.
If used properly, social media can be one of the strongest marketing tools a firm can leverage. But in the same way that financial services firms customize content for various audiences—institutional or retail investors for example—so too must firms customize their social media content. Thinking deliberately about your audience and tailoring your message accordingly is key.