How Financial Services Brands can Succeed with Branded Social

Published on Jul 7th, 2016

by Jack Weinstein

When thinking about brands whose social media strategies you could emulate, finance brands may not naturally come to mind. But you’d be wrong to disregard them.

Finance brands actually grew almost twice as fast in terms of social engagement in Q1 2016 compared with the average U.S. brand (17% compared with 10%). And they were one of the few industries to experience strong growth on Facebook. While most U.S. brands have migrated to Instagram as their preferred platform, finance have largely stuck to Facebook. But we’ll get more into the possibilities for Instagram later.

We presented these trends and others recently during Investing in Social, a webinar that examined how finance brands are using social media to drive engagement and turn audiences into customers. You can download the presentation and recording , but we wanted to break out three key takeaways that you can apply to your brand.

Build Campaigns with Partners Who Have Larger Audiences

Finance brands drove significant results leveraging the much larger audiences of publishers, TV shows, professional sports leagues and influencers to expand their reach and generate engagement. Co-branding and influencer marketing are among the hottest trends in social right now, and for good reason. Those campaigns get results.

Cigna and actress Minnie Driver teamed up to promote healthy lifestyles on Facebook and Instagram. And their campaign is a perfect example of how a brand benefited from a much larger audience. The same video generated more engagement and views when Driver posted it, exposing Cigna to new group of potential followers.

Bank of America teamed up with Major League Baseball several years ago. In recent years, the two partnered on the #MLBmemorybank campaign . MLB’s campaign posts are usually memorable plays that also include the Bank of America logo, unifying and strengthening a highly targeted audience.

Bank of America’s #MLBmemorybank posts invoke baseball-related memories and don’t require use of the MLB logo for its audience to recognize the partnership.

This was Bank of America’s most-engaged post of the year and it’s not even close. It generated 570% more actions (likes, comments and shares) than its next-most-engaged post.

Add Video to Your Social Strategy

Finance brands are still creating their social video strategies, but did see positive growth in Q1 2016 with 7% year-to-year growth.

However, some brands have embraced video wholeheartedly. Consider Nasdaq: the stock exchanged generated 42% of its overall engagement year to date from video content, up from just 7% during the same time last year—a difference of 500%.

Nasdaq’s Top 20 videos of 2016 generated an average of 328,000 views, up 190% compared with the same time last year. Of those, 19 were Facebook Live videos. The only recorded video was 360-degree video with the cast from X-Men: Apocalypse .

And those videos generated 15x more comments than videos during the same time last year, indicating that Nasdaq’s engagement was more meaningful than its audience taking passive action and just clicking “like.” Nasdaq’s most-engaged video, a test-drive of a Tesla Model X, generated nearly a third of its actions from comments.

In previous analyses, we found that Facebook Live content generated up to a 12x increase in comments compared with recorded video.

Instagram Presents the Most Opportunity for Growth

While Instagram still represents a small portion of the content mix for finance brands, it also represents the largest growth opportunity. Only 26% of finance brands use the platform, compared with about 50% of U.S. brands overall. That’s crazy considering that Instagram overtook Facebook as the platform with the most engagement in Q1.

A number of finance brands have successfully adopted Instagram, including American Express. AmEx uses images of its iconic card to generate engagement, a strategy AmEx borrowed from its customers . Instagram has also commissioned original art of its cards, indicating that it has fully embraced the aesthetic-first nature of Instagram.

Finance brands also experienced significant year-to-year growth on Twitter, but much of that growth was the result of a single brand’s wildly successful campaign. Esurance generated 57% of all finance Twitter engagement in Q1, driven by its Super Bowl sweepstakes campaign, which accounted for 74% of its total actions on the platform. The campaign demonstrates the potential of Twitter as an engagement platform for finance brands.

Want more insights from Investing in Social? Download the presentation and recording.

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