There is no lack of buzz about Instagram as a marketing channel, but what are the successful Instagram strategies for banks and credit unions? We wanted to find out straight from the community financial institutions that are effectively utilizing this channel, so we set up a panel discussion. This post is a recap of the lessons and tactics we learned.
Quick note, if you are entirely new to Instagram as a marketing channel, we recommend you start with this article on Instagram for Banks.
Instagram Gives Banks and Credit Unions a Strategic Edge
Instagram is traditionally thought of as a place to look at beautiful art, design, delicious food, and puppies. However, banks and credit union’s have a unique opportunity to stand out.
The key: Humanize your bank or credit union by showcasing yourself within the community.
Banks and credit unions can put their face to their name by:
- Sharing pictures of staff behind the scenes
- Highlighting consumers
- Showcasing themselves within the community
This breaks the perception that financial institutions are boring and emphasizes a major strategic difference between community financial institutions and megabanks. You are authentically local. Megabanks have big marketing budgets that enable them to tell stories, but they don’t have the finger on the pulse of their community like local banks and CU’s do. This means that it's also a strategy that the megabanks won't be able to effectively replicate.
Successful Instagram Strategy for Banks and Credit Unions in 2017
To understand in greater depth what is working today, we sat down with the social media managers from 3 community financial institutions that are successful on Instagram. We've included the video if you'd like to listen to the full conversation, but we've also broken out the highlights with links to all the tools discussed.
Instagram Strategies for Community Engagement
Instagram users under 25 years old spend more than 32 minutes a day on Instagram. Users over 25 years old spend more than 24 minutes a day on the platform. As a financial institution vying to get the attention of the highly-sought after “millennial”, this number should excite you.
But to actually hold their attention requires playing the long-game. Megan Kongaika, AVP of Montana-based Altana FCU warns “The minute you try to sell them, you lose them. It (Instagram) should be relationship development.” Fortunately, banks and credit unions are sitting on a goldmine of content opportunities and Instagram is the perfect platform to show them off.
Use Instagram to:
- Highlight local businesses
- Showcase community events
- Share news from the community
- Converse with your community
Aim to post at least once a day, but no more than 3 or 4 times (depending on the quality of content). This might sound like a lot, especially if you are just beginning. Here are some content ideas to help you get started. Remember, consistency is key.
- Take a fun Boomerang around the office
- Snap a pic from outside your branch
- Ask to share a community member's post
- Regram content from local businesses or news stations
- Pose a financial question to your community
- Celebrate an employee's promotion or work anniversary
- Show off a team members hobby or secret talent
- Highlight what your products enable: new cars, home renovations, etc.
- Motivational quotes related to finances
- Headshots of financial gurus and quotable tidbits
- Nonprofit or community work your institution is doing in the community
- Do a throwback post and show off images from the early days of your institution
- Have a laugh by sharing funny financial memes
- Partner with local influencers or celebs and feature them
- Steal one of Kasasa’s Instagram posts
Keep the Look Consistent
Toni Mathews, Executive Strategist, and community manager at Trailhead CU curates the credit union's profile by sticking to one filter. She uses the app VSCO for filters, and always frames her pictures with the Afterlight.
Of course, the internet has plenty of free tools to help you create beautiful images. If you want more information on creating graphics, check out this post.
Follow Members in Your Community
To succeed on Instagram banks and CU’s should actively follow:
- Local restaurants/businesses
- Regular customers/members
- Local organizations – Ex. The high school football team
- Local newscasters
- Influencers within your community (bloggers, foodies, and more)
These people should be pretty easy to find. Start by going to their website -- most people will actively promote their Instagram profiles on their website or in their email signature. Another way to find their account is to search your city on Instagram. Once you have followed them, spend five minutes to like their posts – it’s as easy as a double-tap.
Get Employees Involved
It’s not realistic to think you can capture every event or hilarious office moment by yourself. Aim to get a few social ambassadors within your financial institution to help with your content efforts.
Emily Mays, Marketing Director at Community Spirit Bank preaches consistency when it comes to building your ambassador team. Check in frequently, and remind employee’s on the day-of events to send pictures as they take them.
Tag Your Location
Posts with a location tag receive up to 79% more engagement than those that do not.
If you’re at an event, tag the venue. If you’re at home or at the office consider tagging a popular destination in town. This will give you the most views on your post since users are searching for that location.
Use Multiple Hashtags
Instagram is the one social platform where you should be generous with hashtags. The platform allows 30 per post.
Create a note on your phone and add about 25 hashtags to it. This way you can easily cut and paste when you post.
Of your 30 hashtags, be sure to include:
- At least one branded hashtag for your institution (Ex. #FreedomInstitution)
- Local hashtags – look to local influencers for ideas (Ex. #Austin #ATX #ATXeats #ShopLocalATX)
- Money related hashtags (Ex. #personalfinance #moneysaver #budgeting)
If you search for hashtags on Instagram, the top bar lists popular related tags. You should also look at what other successful institutions, influencers, or local businesses are using. For a more advanced tactic, look to see what hashtags journalists seem to engage with regularly. This will give you an idea of the content they are most interested in and you can work to tie that back to your institutions -- it's a great way to get more press attention.
Utilize Instagram Stories
Instagram stories allow you to post 15-second clips that live on your profile for a day. Megan Kongaika of Altana FCU has experimented with “day-in-the-life” series. She recommends having less tech-savvy employees contributing to the day-in-the-life by sending pictures directly to the social managers to ensure quality and compliance.
Speaking of compliance, the risks associated with experimenting with Instagram stories is low. They live for 24 hours before being deleted. Remember to keep an archive of the content your should you ever undergo a social media audit.
It's Your Turn
Are you ready to make the leap into Instagram? We'd love to know! Follow us on Instagram and we'll follow back, plus we might feature your work in a future post.