Memes. Dance videos. Recipes. Loans???
In 2022, almost anything you can think of is on social media, even SMB lending.
The financial services industry has been historically slow to adapt to and leverage social media marketing. You might guess why: talking about the nitty gritty of loan agreements isn’t exactly riveting.
And yet, the best, most engaging brands across all industries have learned how to utilize social media as an extension of their voice—they effectively engage with audience segments while communicating their value proposition.
To help get your brand ahead of the competition, we’ve put together this social media guide for SMB lenders. Expect to learn what social media marketing is, the platforms you should be paying attention to, and nine best practices to help boost your social media marketing ROI.
What Is Social Media Marketing?
Social media marketing is not posting a photo of your #lunch on Facebook.
At its core, it’s using any social media platform to promote your company, product, or service, engage with potential customers, and drive website traffic.
The key element of any social media marketing strategy is engagement. Think of social media as an opportunity to have a conversation with your customers and potential customers. What things do they care about? What problems do they have? How can you build rapport?
There are a number of SMB lenders successfully cutting through the noise and making an impact on social media. One such lender is our customer, Pursuit (a part of Prudent Lenders). Check out some of their posts on LinkedIn to see the basic components of effective social media marketing in action: compelling copy, clear value proposition, dynamic visuals, and tailored messaging.
Benefits of Social Media Marketing for SMB Lenders
Ultimately, new customers are what most lenders want to see out of their social media efforts. And yet, before you can turn a lead into a customer, you have to build familiarity, trust, and establish a rapport.
Social media is the opportunity to do just that—leveraged just right, it brings plenty of benefits to SMB lenders.
1. Increases Brand Awareness
It’s not a matter of if your audience is spending time on social media, it’s a matter of what they’re consuming!
More than half of the world’s population uses social media daily. In a competitive market, you have to be part of the conversation, if you don’t want to be forgotten.
Each step of a potential customer’s buying journey (i.e., reading reviews, doing research on different loan products, etc.) is an opportunity for you to reinforce your brand messaging and drive future conversions.
2. Builds Trust
In a world where we’re hyper aware of cybercrime and financial fraud, financial engagements require a significant amount of trust. You need to prove that your business is reputable and up to the task at hand—no trust means no clients.
Building trust on social media is about cultivating familiarity and proving that you are reliable. Every interaction you have can help your target audience discover what values matter to you: how quickly you respond to questions or concerns, how consistent and active your social media profiles are, and the messages you promote can play an important role.
Consistency and transparency above all will help you earn audience trust.
3. Generates Leads and Boosts Conversions
A lending “conversion” typically only occurs after you have built a rapport with potential borrowers. While this has traditionally happened via email, in-person meetings, and phone calls, social media is now the ideal place to nurture leads: roughly 76% of consumers are ready to have a conversation with a potential provider on social media.
Especially in these times of economic uncertainty, SMBs are searching for financing options to ensure they can weather the looming storm. Although not recommended as a stand-alone strategy, you can (and should) supplement your more traditional lead gen/nurture efforts with social media outreach as you look to find prospects and close more deals.
4. Fosters Meaningful Relationships With Audience
Social media gives brands an opportunity to be, well, human. Develop a personality, stand for something, and communicate your values. Discover what your audience likes, and find a proactive way to be involved in the conversation. This will work wonders in setting your organization apart from your competitors.
5. Drives Competitive Intelligence
Social media marketing can help you gather insights to better optimize your customers’ experiences with your brand. At this very moment untold numbers of social media users are having online conversations about your brand and your competitors.
Paying attention to these conversations is like getting the answers to the test before the questions are asked. Discover how you stack up against your rivals by analyzing brand reputation and discover up-and-coming trends in the industry.
6. Gain Customer Insights
There is so much information to be gleaned from social media about your potential customers.
Every platform gives an informative picture of what your audience likes and dislikes, what they react best to, what they’re looking for. In addition to optimizing your content strategy, you’ll have another set of data that can be used for strategic decision making.
Top Social Media Platforms for SMB Lenders
We’ve come a long way since the days of MySpace, thankfully.
With so many options in 2022, you can’t afford to waste time and money on a social media platform that isn’t right for your brand.
But which platform is best for your SMB lending business? To answer this question you’ve got to know where your audience is spending time online. Who is your audience? How old are they? What kind of content do they want (Videos? Reels? Posts? Memes?), and what do they expect from their experience on a specific platform?
Here are some of the top social media platforms for SMB lenders to consider.
Facebook is by far the largest social platform, boasting regular use by nearly 68 % of American adults.
Beyond using a Facebook Business Page, SMB lenders can leverage private groups to drive conversation and engagement, as well as a variety of content formats including video, images, stories, and more. Facebook is best for reaching users who are just slightly over the age of 30.
TikTok soared to popularity in 2020, when it became the most downloaded app in the world. Featuring only short-form video content, more than half of TikTok’s users are under age 35.
Don’t think TikTok users are interested in finance? Think again: one study shows that Gen-Zers are increasingly using channels like TikTok and YouTube to learn about personal finance strategies. It’s more than a place for funny videos; it’s an online learning platform.
Instagram is all about celebrating creativity. “Do it for the ‘gram” (as they say) and post images that show off what your company is doing, from client work to the after office happy hour. This platform is perfect for creating a brand story and telling it in a visual way.
Easy back-and-forth makes Twitter a perfect platform for Q&A and customer service.
It doesn’t take a lot of set-up or create content, which makes Twitter an easy platform for brands who are social media beginners. Get comfortable using hashtags and mentioning other users to be a part of real-time conversations.
The social media platform for grown-ups, LinkedIn boasts a bit more of a sophisticated and educated audience. Business contacts, networking, and thought leadership are the name of the game on LinkedIn. You can dive a little deeper into industry-specific content on this platform, especially as you look to highlight your organization’s subject matter expertise.
YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, right after Google.
A video-only platform, YouTube can drive brand recognition (and revenue) through engaging, educational or entertaining video content. It’s an excellent platform if you can create quality video content, geared towards an audience under the age of 50.
Shoppers on Pinterest spend twice as much as people on other platforms.
Paint colors, design trends, and…SMB lending. Pinterest is a visual search engine, and by developing financial content in the context of lifestyle trends (think how to buy/own a commercial property SMBs) your content can soar and provide a ton of value to your audience.
Authentic discussions only—this is the short summary of Reddit, and also why it’s a trickier platform for many brands to properly utilize.
Discussions are user-generated around specific topics, asking for first-hand experiences from others.
Redditors are notorious for being ruthless when brands aren’t offering valuable content on the platform. If you can find a way to publish content that’s authentic and valuable, you might have an opportunity to engage with a hyper targeted segment of your audience.
9 Social Media Marketing Best Practices
Being witty and creative is helpful, but it’s not enough to drive results.
Here are some top social media marketing best practices for SMB lenders to effectively market their brand and financial products on social media.
1. Know Your Audience
Spend time getting to know your audience and where they are online. Making assumptions will lead to wasted time and money! Different platforms serve unique purposes for different audiences and your strategy needs to adjust accordingly.
CSTMR Pro Tip: Be sure to document your target audience interactions and update your buyer personas as you gain insights from your conversations on social media.
2. Research Your Competitors
Be a spy on the regular. Watch your competitors to find out what they’re doing and how they do it…learn from it, and then do it better. You’ve got to stand out!
CSTMR Pro Tip: If you are dying to know how your competitor’s ads are performing, use this free tool for some robust competitive intelligence.
3. Set Clear and Measurable KPIs
You can get caught up in reach, follower counts, impressions, and video views, but try to focus on engagement. If users don’t engage with your brand, nothing else counts. To calculate your engagement rate, you need to record and analyze key data about user interactions. Then, you can set your goals accordingly.
CSTMR Pro Tip: Decide from the start what your goals will be, and get everyone on your team on board.
4. Keep a Two-Way Communication Strategy
Social media is a two-way experience: you want to serve your customers the same way you would if you were in a physical location with them. What does that mean? Well, don’t talk at them. Instead, interact with them. Be sure to respond quickly to any comments or messages—22% of customers want a response within 1-2 hours.
CSTMR Pro Tip: Make it fun! You can show a little personality on social media, and find ways to relate to your customers.
5. Develop a Style Guide
Are you all lowercase? Formal? Is your voice hip and young or sophisticated and reserved? Developing a style guide ensures your social media accounts don’t have a case of schizophrenia. Consistency pays off, as consumers need to know what to expect from you. One study cites that consistent presentation can lead to a 33% increase in revenue.
CSTMR Pro Tip: Use social tools (see further below) to develop templates so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time.
6. Repurpose Content
Don’t make it any harder than it has to be! You can, and should, repurpose your content. As you build your audience on social media, you’ll need to reinforce your brand messaging and encourage engagement for new audiences.
CSTMR Pro Tip: Make note of the posts (and platforms) that get the most engagement and plan to reutilize them year after year.
7. Optimize Creatives for Each Platform
Pay attention to the requirements of each platform. For instance, you’ve got limited characters to work with for a Tweet, but lots of room on Instagram or LinkedIn. No copy and pasting allowed! Instead, make sure you’re putting your best creative foot forward, formatted for the intended platform.
CSTMR Pro Tip: Make a basic cheat sheet (or grab one like this!) that gives you the image sizes and character counts for different channels.
8. Test, Test, Test
Headlines. Images. Copy. CTAs. Test it all with A/B testing. Trust us, what you think might resonate and what actually resonates with your audience don’t always align!
CSTMR Pro Tip: Test one creative/message at a time, so you know for sure what your followers want.
9. Embrace Social Listening
Not quite like spying, this is more like being a part of a larger conversation. You’ve got to know what people are talking about. Scan social media channels for brand or competitor mentions, relevant hashtags and keywords to find an opportunity to weigh in.
CSTMR Pro Tip: Don’t be afraid of negativity. Listen to understand, and address any issues up front.
Bonus Section: Social Media Marketing Tools
By now, it’s pretty clear that social media marketing is an absolute must for SMB lenders.
And yet, if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, there are tools that can help you more efficiently manage your social media marketing efforts. Look to arm yourself with one of the tools below. These affordable options can help automate, schedule, and offer valuable insights for your brand.
Hootsuite is one of the most well-known tools to make managing social media effortless. Create posts specific to each platform, schedule them to go live when your audience is active, and automate as much as possible. You can also track key phrases, hashtags, and brand mentions.
Another time-saving tool worthy of a mention is Later.com. You can manage Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, creating a media library to pull from. There’s even a free option!
A management platform that can help you schedule posts, manage accounts, and develop advanced insights, SproutSocial is an all-in-one platform for all things social media. It even has built-in CRM features!
Perhaps the most powerful and robust software option available for managing and measuring all marketing initiatives (not just social), HubSpot is the preferred choice for serious SMB lenders. Take it from us: as Platinum Partners, we know just how valuable a tool it is.
Build a Killer Social Presence With CSTMR
Your customers (and your competitors) are on social media, and they want to interact with brands they trust. If you’re not maximizing your social channels to gain all the benefits we mentioned above, what are you waiting for?
As an SMB lender, you can change the game for small business owners. Your funding means new jobs, growth, innovation, and ultimately, stronger communities. But first, they need to see, hear, and feel you. Let CSTMR help your brand stand out on social media, with a voice and personality of its own.
Reach out to us for a consultation on all things around fintech marketing. We are eager to tell your story.