Here's the problem with traditional, regional banks not using social media as a marketing channel: they lose touch with their customers—and the competition. Last month (November 2016), one of the giants in banking, CitiBank, started what is already one of the great hashtag campaigns we've yet seen in financial services: #LetsFaceMoney.
As the #LetsFaceMoney landing page makes immediately clear, it's a societal problem that people find talking about money anxiety-producing. The #LetsFaceMoney campaign is set as a movement to challenge this problem and create transparency around personal finance.
Talk about aligning with current buyer thinking! What CitiBank got right about this campaign is that today's buyers are thirsty for content that speaks the truth; they want authenticity, plain talk, and bold transparency. And that's exactly what CitiBank gives them in the #LetsFaceMoney campaign.
This isn't a B2C tactic; It's a Buyer Persona tactic
Some professionals in bank marketing will be sure to dismiss the flashiness of the campaign as an approach only available to B2C-side bank operations. After all, CitiBank's video promoting the campaign does feature Stranger Things'star Millie Bobby Brown daring the public to think critically about how we talk about money. TV star personalities are usually as B2C as you get in advertising.
However, the core of this campaign isn't that CitiBank has put together amazing creative work using a variety of multimedia. The real significance of the marketing is in the strategy: building a campaign that tracks specifically to current buyer thought processes and decision-making.
In short, CitiBanks knows who they're selling to, and it's not the All-American dad of the 1950s; it's an increasingly educated populace that can tell they're getting ripped off by major financial institutions, and want candid talk about how to become more financially savvy.
#LetsFaceMoney is a Top Example of Social Media Campaigning
What B2B financial marketers sometimes forget about social media is that it's not all about establishing and maintaining a presence. In fact, there's too much of that going on! Maintaining isn't enough on social media; you need to campaign.
Inventing a hashtag and backing it up with a temporary, energetic blast of media is that the kind of approach that more and more banks, wealth advisors, insurance companies and others should be adopting. People pay attention when you demand it, and that's exactly what #LetsFaceMoney is doing right now on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and elsewhere.
A solid social media campaign in today's content-saturated atmosphere requires three main components that CitiBank's efforts demonstrate clearly:
Extremely powerful creative — you can't underestimate that core content must be high quality. You don't need a TV star, but you do need an extremely effective idea. Notice the elegance in CitiBank's messaging. It's not #LetsMakeMoneyTransparent; it's #LetsFaceMoney—more subtle, more approachable, and very effective.
Well-planned budget — The viral social media campaigns of the past are much more difficult to pull off these days, as most social algorithms require funding to launch. If you're on Twitter, you're likely to see #LetsFaceMoney first not because it's gone viral but because CitiBank has sponsored posts up and down your Twitter feed.
Timing and execution — Notice the time of year. #LetsFaceMoney is happening now for a reason. The holidays are a time when people worry most about money. Parents worry about getting presents for their kids. Employees worry about whether they're going to get that holiday bonus. Businesses think hard about plans for the new year. This financial campaign is perfectly placed to align with how buyers are thinking today.
Business Banks: Take Note!
B2B financial services should take note of excellent social campaigns like #LetsFaceMoney. This isn't Madison Avenue propelling banking with another great ad campaign; it's sound strategy that any bank can develop, based on knowing who their buyers are.
As you plan your next annual marketing plan, consider how you're approaching social media marketing. It could be your next great area for customer acquisition.