Back in 2008, financial services brands were digital marketing neophytes. Financial marketing executives were all too aware that their teams faced unknown territory; lack of experience with new digital platforms and inability to prove ROI were their top concerns.
Fast forward to 2012. Financial services brands leaned into digital and grew their presences on social networking sites by 31 percent year over year. And nowadays, banking and financial brands use emerging platforms and social media to grow share of voice and drive referral traffic. Wells Fargo, for example, is among the top 20 brands most stalked by peer brands within our competitive intelligence platform.
Digitally innovative financial brands like American Express and Visa are even lauded and looked to by marketers across industries. The impressive launch of AmEx’s Small Business Saturday initiative on Facebook, with page likes now numbering 3.4 million and counting, for example, has become an oft-referenced digital marketing case study.
According to The Financial Brand, financial marketing teams are finally beginning to “catch up to other major industries” by making digital marketing a priority:
“Financial marketers will seek to build brand loyalty by engaging consumers on the most popular social media channels, leveraging each platform strategically to maximize effectiveness.”
So what are a few easy-to-implement tactics to help financial brands score on Facebook? We analyzed the Facebook accounts for financial services brands in the Fortune 500 to find out. Here are four data-backed tips and tricks:
1. Financial services brands see most engagement on Fridays and Saturdays.
When financial services brands post on Fridays, they see greater average engagement per post (measured as likes, shares, and comments) than any other day of the week.
A close second for engagement, Saturdays also prove effective for financial services brands. Sundays, however, are the least-engaging day to post for financial brands overall.
This finding runs counter to industry-wide Facebook research across 1.5 million pieces of Facebook content from 6,000 brand pages. In the aggregate, Facebook posts published on Sundays see the most engagement.
2. Posting between 5-6 p.m. ET is the sweet spot.
Financial services brands do align with broad Facebook best practices when it comes to the best time of day to post. Industry-wide Facebook data indicate that posts published after hours (5 p.m.-1 a.m. ET) see 11 percent more interactions ￼than those published during the workday (8 a.m.-5 p.m.), and 29 percent more than those published before work (1-8 a.m. ET).
For the financial services industry, the primetime for Facebook posting falls in this timeline as well; between 5-6 p.m. ET to be exact.
Late night on the east coast, however, is the worst time to update the Facebook page for financial services brands; posts published between 2-3 a.m. ET in particular see the least engagement on average.
3. Even for financial brands, visual content engages on Facebook.
When it comes to Facebook, audiences need to see to engage, and financial marketing content is no exception. Photo posts see higher engagement levels on average compared with video, link, and status posts.
This finding applies for marketers across industries. Overall, Facebook posts with images see 37 percent more engagement than those with just text.
4. Use relevant hashtags to tag content and spark topical conversation.
Across the board, fewer than one in six posts from Facebook brand pages contain hashtags, but research shows that hashtagging on Facebook is a best practice. Posts from brand pages that include at least one hashtag see 60 percent greater engagement results than those without.
Among the financial services sector, the hashtags correlated with the most engagement on Facebook are below:
Bank of America enjoyed a favorable brand boost with its sponsorship of the Bank of America 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The hashtag #bofa500 the most impactful among brands in the financial services space in the last 90 days, with an engagement ratio (defined as the average interactions per post per 1,000 followers) of 11.21.
Bank of America also saw social media success by asking its audience to share messages of support for service members and veterans using #troopthanks. The hashtag saw an engagement ratio of 11.02, and Bank of America donated up to $1 million to the Wounded Warrior Project as part of the campaign. This is yet another example of the viral capacity of philanthropic ideas on social media.
Want to see benchmarks and best practices for brands in your industry? Check out our industry benchmark reports to see how you stack up against leading peers on five major social networks.
For even more Facebook research, download your free copy of The Marketing Maven’s Guide to Facebook below.