Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, social media has emerged as a critical marketing strategy for private lenders and brokers. Even before the pandemic hit, 70 percent of Americans were on social media, engaging for an average of 2 hours per day, according to the Digital 2020 report from We Are Social and HootSuite. Now with more people at home, inside and online, brands have an even greater opportunity to make an impression.
Many businesses anticipated this shift. Social media budgets have jumped 74 percent since February, according to a May 2020 survey of more than 2,600 marketing professionals across industries. Companies are now spending nearly a quarter (23.2 percent) of their marketing dollars on social media, up from about 13 percent prior to the pandemic.
But for private lenders who typically rely on face-to-face networking, social media advertising can feel completely foreign. The best place to start is by defining a strategy, starting with goals and a budget. Outlining goals, like awareness, engagement, or lead generation, can help determine spend and narrow focus to a specific message. The best social media ads are consistent in message and identity across platforms. Lenders should also be sure to budget for training, content creation, advertising costs, and analysis.
Armed with goals and a budget, lenders can start to assess which platforms are best suited for the way they want to engage with clients and prospects. Here is a guide to advertising on five social media platforms:
LinkedIn is considered the gold standard for business-to-business marketing. The professional networking site has more than 160 million users in the U.S., and with each of these users providing detailed professional work history, it’s easy for lenders and brokers to ensure they are targeting the right audience. The platform offers a variety of ways to advertise, including sponsored content, text ads, display ads and an option to directly message target clients. LinkedIn is the best platform for longform, thought leadership-style content. It is ideal for lenders and brokers seeking to establish themselves as trusted advisors in the field.
Facebook is a powerhouse platform due to its enormous reach — 180 million Americans — and engagement. The typical Facebook user clicks on 18 advertisements a month, according to the Digital 2020 report. The platform is ideal for lead generation. Facebook’s “lead ads” option pre-populates users’ contact information when they click on your ad, making quality lead generation frictionless. Facebook is the perfect platform for promoting other digital marketing efforts like gated content and virtual events.
Instagram has 120 million users in the U.S., and its reach is growing. The photo-sharing platform attracts a younger user base, with 35 percent of users between ages 25-34 and 30 percent of users ages 35 and up. Instagram users often use the platform to discover and research brands, according to Facebook, its parent company. As a visual platform, image-based content like photos, videos, and graphics are essential to advertising on Instagram. It is an ideal network for sharing your company story, building brand awareness, and driving potential customers to your website. The best performing brand content on Instagram functions almost as a short blog, offering personal insights, inspiration, and/or information for users.
Twitter boasts more than 53 million users in the U.S. With its 280-character limit, the platform is built for conversation. It offers businesses a great way to ask and answer questions, engage with potential clients and industry peers, and generally build greater brand awareness. More than half of Twitter users (54 percent) will visit a brand website or Twitter profile after seeing it mentioned in their feed. Short-form text content with attached photos or graphics performs best on the site. It also offers robust advertising options and requires no minimum spend.
TikTok is still a new frontier for B2B advertisers. It has 30 million users in the U.S., most of whom are under age 25, according to AdAge. The short-form video platform was popularized by Gen Z, the generation born between 1995 and 2015. While there’s no set B2B marketing playbook for TikTok, authenticity is key. Weird, funny, inspirational, or personality-driven content gains traction here. Ad captions are limited to 100 characters, so more than any other platform, it’s all about the video. TikTok has recently pledged support for more informational content for users, making it an ideal space for lenders or brokers who want to establish themselves as industry resources. A major perk of TikTok is the app is designed for sharing across other social platforms like Instagram and Twitter, broadening the potential reach of your content.