Many financial and professional services marketers tell us that they're ready to throw in the towel on social media. They say they can't prove its value in their marketing mix and find it impossible to demonstrate a return on their social media investment.

After further discussion, it turns out the issue usually isn't social media. It's how the firms go about using it.

Many marketers try to “fit” campaigns into Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and other popular social media channels. Or they simply push all their content out through all their social sites. This made sense when social media was a novelty, the ways to use it were limited and data wasn't readily available.

But now that social media is a mature marketing opportunity (studies show that 81 percent of Americans have a social media profile), it’s definitely NOT time to give up on it. Instead, it's time to shift thinking and use different social channels and creative messaging strategies to accomplish your goals.

This is similar to how advertisers have used other media types for decades. One size does NOT fit all. Some examples:

  • When marketers want to reach thought leaders and prove to them their firm is knowledgeable, they often publish white papers or articles on websites people in the industry frequent.
  • If they want to explain why pre-retirees should work with their firm to plan for retirement, they frequently run television commercials on cable news channels serving that age demographic.
  • When they need to drive mass-adoption of a new credit card, they often find that sponsoring a major sporting event with a big national audience is a cost-effective way to do just that.

The same type of thinking should happen when considering how to use social media as part of a marketing effort. Start by defining what you want to accomplish, then select the best platform to deliver your message in a cost-effective way. Selecting the right social media channel for your content and audience will make all the difference.

  • Thought leadership. If you're trying to connect with professionals to demonstrate your firm’s expertise, LinkedIn is a solid option. Professionals actively use it to connect with other professionals to grow their businesses, and many turn to it to find quality content to share with their networks.
  • Mass distribution. If you want to get a simple message out to the broadest possible audience at a low cost, Twitter is worth considering. It provides an easy way to deliver basic information about your product and service solutions to people who are chatting about a related issue.
  • Tight targeting. If you need to distribute your content to a highly targeted audience, you probably want to use Facebook. It's the world’s largest content distribution platform, yet its targeting capabilities make it possible to find and reach specific demographic segments.
  • Unexpected. Sometimes the best way to drive action is by surprising people. Catching someone unexpectedly is a good way to get their attention. Use Instagram, Facebook or YouTube to distribute thumb-stopping memes, profound infographics or quick-hit videos. Many firms — even in the conservative financial and professional services industries — have successfully reached audiences by breaking through the glass window of the smartphone, tablet or computer.

Looking for a fresh view on using social media in your financial and professional services marketing campaigns? Check out Carpenter Group’s perspective on digital marketing. Then contact us to discuss how to use social media effectively.