We saw the public reaction. We saw the industry reaction. We saw the memes that nurtured many reactions (well played Twitter universe). And we too, at Social Assurance certainly, felt firsthand the impact of Facebook and Instagram going down, preventing our clients, consumers, and businesses from distributing their content and preventing advertisers and marketers from managing campaigns, optimizing their advertising, and accessing their analytics.
To some, it was a much-needed time off the platform; for others, it was a marketing apocalypse, giving some the unfathomable insight to a marketing world without social media.
Although disappointed that our clients were impacted, it further reinforced a few things I have been preaching for years (that some I know are sick of hearing) and something I continue to coach my team, my clients, and other fellow marketers on today.
- Content is a thing. Social is a platform.
- Invest in YOUR marketing assets (not just Zuckerberg’s)
Let’s start with your content.
Content’s job is to serve a purpose. To create an action. Whether that action is to serve and help someone learn about a particular topic, to entertain and engage them, to inform an audience about an event or social issue, or for them to take a specific action, like visiting your website. The content you create is intended to do something.
Translation- content should take priority over social channels.
I do not want to diminish the power that social media places in our marketing strategy, nor undervalue the real challenges we face as a society with social media. Still, any social media strategy has got to start with a good content strategy.
Let me further emphasize that.
Before you even think about social media, what channels to be on, what your cover photo looks like, or determining how often to post, you need to think about your content strategy first. Marketers need to develop a content strategy that aligns with their organizational goals and target audiences, products, services, and market opportunities.
Far too often, marketers start with the channel and then wonder why their audiences aren’t growing, or engagement metrics are underperforming when maybe 9/10 of the content being distributed isn’t serving a purpose, or worse yet, the audience they want to connect with doesn’t even consume content on that particular channel. They’re just on TikTok because everyone else is doing it. And when financial service providers marketing teams continue to be underfunded, underresourced, and unfortunately undervalued, operating in this capacity is not beneficial to your bottom line or sanity.
Of banks and credit unions surveyed in our 2021 Marketing and Compliance Survey, 12% increased their content marketing budgets this past year, and according to another study from HubSpot, 24% of marketers plan on increasing their content marketing investments. Something to pay attention to as you work on your budget for the new year.
So if you were one of those marketers up in arms about Facebook and Instagram going down, I ask you this, what were you really concerned about? That someone would miss out on your post about National Ice-Cream Day, OR that your content wouldn’t be able to serve its purpose of connecting, engaging, or converting with your target audience?
And if you got terrified about a world without social media and questioned your very existence as a marketer, read on because that’s a whole other issue that needs to be addressed!
We see a tremendous amount of marketing emphasis on social media. With over 2.7B monthly users on Facebook and 1B on Instagram, these platforms can hardly be ignored as communication channels. But when was the last time you checked to see how many users visited your website? Or the last time you published new content to your website at the pace and scale as you do social media?
The reality is that financial service provider websites are being neglected, and according to Jeffrey Pilcher from the Financial Brand, “Consumer banking websites have the lowest conversion rates of all industries and the lowest perceived happiness of all financial verticals.” That is an alarming insight, particularly since the start of 2020, bank and credit union websites have seen a 43% increase in organic traffic.
This brings me to my next point…. Well, three.
- Your bank or credit union OWNS your website (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, guess what? Your bank doesn’t own them).
- Your website is now your most trafficked branch.
- Your website gets more visits than ANY of your social media pages.
As you go into strategic planning and budgeting for 2022, if you aren’t addressing your website strategy and content strategy, you will fall behind the competition, affecting your ability to grow, retain and drive revenue. Something your CEO and CFO understand. In fact, according to research conducted by Social Media Today, companies that have a blog on their website had 55% more website visitors, 67% more monthly leads, and 97% more inbound leads than websites without a blog. In addition, marketers who prioritized blogging gained 13x more ROI than companies who did not. Again, something your CEO and CFO understand.
Your website now is your fastest-growing channel, with the most audience touchpoints, and it has the ability to become your most robust and successful marketing channel. You own it (Not Zuckerberg). Invest in it.
Here are a few ways to invest in your website:
- Conduct a Google Analytics (GA) Review: Learn how your website is performing, where your traffic is coming from, how your online audience engages with your site and content, and understand more about your audience. Once you know how your site performs today, establish website goals in GA and consistently analyze and optimize your site based on the insights garnered.
- Develop Content for your Website: Establish a resources section on your website, where you can consistently publish blogs relevant to your audience and business areas of focus. Creating a consistent blog schedule will help with Search Engine Optimization (SEO is that super confusing marketing strategy that plays to the Google gods so your business can show up on Google searches) and gives you content to distribute onto your social channels, serving a purpose of driving traffic to your website.
- Publish Downloadable Resources: Develop a mortgage application checklist or an online banking guide that customers and prospects can download on your website. These resources, along with tools like financial calculators, give your customers the resources to bank with you successfully and with ease and serve as a lead generation source for prospects. (Your lenders will love you!)
- Invest in SEO: It is complex, it is complicated, and it requires a lot of work- BUT it is essential to every modern marketing strategy. SEO is also a marathon and not a sprint. It will be an ongoing part of your marketing strategy, so identifying the required skillsets to have on staff, or the tools you need to implement (MOZ, SemRush), or the right vendor partners will be essential to succeed in this area.
To recap. Don’t put all your marketing eggs in the social media basket. Take the time to develop a content strategy that aligns with your organizational goals, and create content that serves a purpose and that can fuel your social channels.
Secondly, take that content strategy and invest in your biggest marketing asset- your website. And continue to invest in your website- dedicate budget to your website every year. Don’t set it and forget it. Website management is an iterative process driven by data, so take time to analyze, evaluate and optimize your website, content, and user experience. It will pay dividends.
And hey, if this is all too overwhelming for you. We get it. We can help take the learning curve out of this and help lighten your load. Just let us know where you have gaps, and the Social Assurance team can help.
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