While personal finance brands have been slower to embrace social media than brands in other sectors, there’s no shortage of commentators shouting about the big, general reasons for using social media, normally focusing on engagement. That’s not all there is to it though – while there are some obvious reasons to use social media, there are lots of unsung benefits. Here are the ones we think are most interesting:
1) Perceived legitimacy
Numbers aren’t everything, but they do make a brand look good – the more people appear to trust you, the better. There’s a trend at the moment for self-styled ‘social media gurus’ to boldly proclaim that “numbers don’t matter”, and while this is true to an extent (they’re certainly not the ultimate goal), numbers do count. Engagement is crucial, but having a few zeroes at the end of your fan/follower count makes a company appear more legitimate to the public. Imagine searching for a bank and finding a patchy page with a handful of followers, or worse still, a fake page put up by someone looking to damage the bank’s image – not a good first impression. Get a page up there, make it look good and earn some followers!
2) Sounding board for new ideas and product development
While you shouldn’t expect Facebook and Twitter to render detailed research redundant, they can actually be pretty useful if you want to find something out. What do people think of your website? Do they like the spokesperson you’re considering using? There are some big caveats – most importantly, your fans aren’t necessarily your customers or target audience – but it’s a great (free) way of testing the waters.
Anyone not using social media is missing a trick when it comes to SEO. Neil Jackson at iProspect, explains: “Today we are not only seeing social media activity featuring in Google search results (think Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest) but are also directly influencing the results. As Social Media has grown in use, we are moving to a situation where ‘votes’ which come from inbound links may be outweighed by ‘sentiment’, sourced from social media.”
As search engines such as Google place more and more value on social media and less on traditional links, brands that don’t make good use of social media risk being left behind.
4) Control the conversation
“We’re not on social media because we don’t want to create a hub for people to complain about us publicly”. Ever heard that one before? This excuse shows a misunderstanding: whether or not a business has a Facebook page, people will complain about it. HMRC doesn’t have a Facebook page, but that certainly doesn’t stop people complaining about it in print, in person and of course on social media. What it does preclude is HMRC responding to complaints. Paradoxically, if you don’t provide a place where people can air their grievances, you’ll make yourself more vulnerable to complaints. Better that they do it on your terms where you can step in rather than on HMRCisshite.blogspot.co.uk where you can’t have a say or take it off line. A quick resolution is key; the best way to manage this is by having a social media presence.
We’ve launched and managed brand pages for companies large and small, so if you’d like to speak to us about yours, do get in touch. Here’s a couple of examples to get you started – www.facebook.com/swiftcover and www.facebook.com/penderyn