My company has had corporate Facebook, YouTube and Twitter accounts for a few years and, like many in the financial services industry, we weren’t quite sure what to do with them. Regulations limit what we can say about our products and services, making it a challenge to use these channels in a way that connects meaningfully with consumers.
In 2012, we decided to extend our brand’s advertising slogan “Long-term goals need a long-term partner” and regularly post tips about setting and achieving long-term goals on Facebook and Twitter. Because of mandatory compliance review on all posts, however, we were not able to engage in real-time “conversations” with our followers. We felt stuck, like we were going at social media sideways. So we decided that if we are going to have a social media presence, we needed to find a way to make it engaging and fun, as well as compliant.
Mapping the course
We decided to launch a pilot social media video campaign. We developed a marketing plan that set clear objectives and got buy-in from our legal and compliance departments. With a clear understanding of the parameters of the project, we set measurable, reasonable goals.
Our main audience was consumers and our secondary audiences were distribution intermediaries and business partners. Our first challenge was producing meaningful content that was not related to specific products or services. We chose to continue leveraging our advertising slogan and focus on high-level messages about long-term goals, a theme that fits our brand.
The second issue was our small budget and limited resources. We asked members of our busy staff to squeeze this additional project into their schedules. But people were excited about it and made it work.
Execute. Edit. Excite others.
We kept it simple by walking to a park near our downtown St. Paul, Minn. headquarters with a freelance video crew and an actor who conducted spontaneous on-camera interviews with people about their long-term goals. The interviewees were simply people out on their lunch breaks or going for walks, and they were quite willing to let us interview them about their long-tem financial goals. We edited the interviews and grouped them into four videos and posted one video a week during November on YouTube. We promoted the videos on Facebook, Twitter, our corporate website and our employee and advisor intranets. In mid-November we added some inexpensive Facebook advertising.
Small but mighty results
We are a privately owned company and our brand is not a household name. Our campaign issued no overt call to action and there were no coupons, contests or special deals. For those reasons, our goals were modest: Raise Facebook likes 25 percent and Twitter followers 15 percent. Additional goals were to build brand recognition and promote the company’s resolve to help people reach their long-term financial goals.
It worked. Facebook likes rose 27 percent during the month to 571. Twitter followers went up 19 percent to 191. The videos on YouTube were viewed more than 4,000 times.
A worthwhile endeavor
We learned valuable lessons from this campaign. After a couple of weeks, we started advertising on Facebook. And, even though we kept the cap on our daily expenditure relatively low, the advertising made a significant difference. Also, we learned that our field force appreciated having the videos available to use with clients. If nothing else, it was an answer to their ever-present question of “What are we doing on social media?”
One thing that has surprised us is the level of interest our social media experiment generated within our own industry. Many of our colleagues feel as we did — that you need to go big with social media or not go at all, and that social media programs require a lot of people and a lot of money. In reality, we won’t generate the same interest as a nationally known retailer whose products are tangible, but our experiment shows that a financial services company can make modest, yet measurable advancements in social media presence with a small budget, careful planning and some sweat equity.