Banks that are new to social media or are determining how best to jump into social media eventually ask the following question: “Should we start with one social network or several?” The answer? It depends.
All things being equal, being active on multiple social networks is better than one. Unfortunately, all things are not equal and resources, both human and financial, play a role in the ultimate look and feel of any social media strategy – including the number of social networks on which a bank participates.
According to the ReadyBuzz blog, “the biggest mistake most businesses make is to only use one social media platform. In most cases, they either choose Twitter or Facebook. The truth is, one just isn’t enough.” Many social media users maintain two or more social media accounts. In many cases these accounts are established when the user first visits the social network as part of a curiosity or through the referral by an acquaintance. However, regardless of many users’ maintenance of multiple social media accounts, users are not equally active on each social network. As such, users may only access one account on a regular basis and largely ignore the others. This means that a bank that focuses its social media efforts on a single social network risks missing out on a large portion of social media users that use other platforms.
Zmags blogger Christina Pappas recommends how to best utilize multiple social networks. According to Pappas, “there are many social media channels and most of us use each channel with a slightly different spin. The type of content we would Tweet is different than the content we may post to a Facebook Business Page. Both of those formats may require a different twist than we’d offer on LinkedIn.” Pappas makes the case for a strategy that differentiates the manner in which information is shared on each social network.
However, Inc. blogger J.J. McCorvey warns against biting off more than can be chewed. According to McCorvey, “If you have enough staffing power to handle multiple social networking sites, that’s great. If not, it’s important to focus on one or two, or you could spread yourself too thin and fall victim to the ‘gaping void’ perception, where you end up going days without activity. Your followers will notice.”
Social Media Today blogger Mark Evans echoes McCorvey’s advice. In one of his posts Evans recounts his advice to a small business. According to Evans, “my reluctance to suggest a multi-pronged approach was mostly due to the lack of available resources. The last thing I wanted to see was the company blast out with several Twitter accounts, only to see its efforts fail due to poor content or a lack of activity and engagement.
An example of the success that can be achieved through the use of multiple social networks is Starbucks. Blonde 2.0 blogger Ayelet Noff credits Starbucks’ multipronged social media strategy as one of the reasons why Starbucks has been successful at creating millions of fans for the brand and keep them involved in the brand’s doings. According to Noff, “The brand has created a digital dialogue with its customers, enabling people to give their feedback and receive a response back from Starbucks addressing their concerns/comments. Starbucks is showing its customers and potential customers – ‘hey, we care about what YOU have to say.’ I am certain that if each one of these elements was done alone then the strategy would not have been as successful and complete as it is when done like this in integration with the rest of the elements on board.”
Amanda Brooke, Drop Ship News blogger, speaks to the advantages of multiple social networks by stating that “by working on your brand on the most popular social media sites such as Twitter, MySpace, Facebook and YouTube, you can reach a much, much broader audience than traditional marketing methods.” Social Media Today blogger Daulton West, Jr. goes on to say that “’listening’ to their customers, and creating conversations that span several social media sites, allows for communication that strengthens relationships for existing and potential customers.”
In the final analysis, while it appears desirable to maintain several social network accounts simultaneously, it is critical that the bank maintain a budget that provides for adequate staffing to ensure that the bank’s social media efforts add value.