The One Thing Most Nigerian Banks Are Getting Wrong Online

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What’s the one thing?

Thought leadership.

This is the logic: If people trust your bank enough to place their hard-earned (or stolen) money in its care, they probably won’t be averse to you teaching them how to manage their finances.

It follows then that a bank should be an authority on finance and money management, dispensing valuable advice (in its area of expertise) to engage its online audience and win new customers over.

But most Nigerian banks are only interested in hawking their products indiscriminately, sharing news items they have no business sharing and pretending to be busy with customer service. Shame.

Does your (Nigerian) bank run a blog that breaks down budgeting, loans and other important finance information into bits that almost anyone can digest easily?

Probably not.

Take your eyes off the likes and shares, what is the actual value of the updates on your bank’s Facebook page?

Um…

On Twitter, what is the ratio of useful financial information your bank provides to its automated customer service responses?

About 1:9, maybe.

Is your bank struggling to appeal to its audience’s varying interests?

Yes, and it’s not working.

Of course, it’s not working. You’re not BuzzFeed.

You’re not even expected to be BuzzFeed. That’s not what banks are for.

So instead of trying to be everything to everyone and failing badly, specialise.

Start building a reputation for providing practical and insightful information that everyday people can use to manage their money better.

How?

1. First, a blog.

A simple, endlessly scrolling page on your bank’s website (i.e. www.yourbank.com/blog) is good enough. The fancy design and standalone domain can come later.

2. Create useful content.

Hire an in-house content writer who specialises (that word again) in financial writing. You could also pay external contributors to send you articles regularly and hire an editor to, well, edit their writing.

+ Develop a content strategy: a detailed plan that covers why you want to create content, the nature of the content, what it’s supposed to achieve, how it’s going to be created, how it will be distributed and how you’ll measure its success.

+ Posts on the blog have to be consistent. Develop a schedule and follow it.

+ Focus on creating articles that will remain relevant for a long time.

+ From experience, Nigerians love lists. Make them often.

3. Spread the word.

Distribute articles from your blog on social media regularly. Create a weekly newsletter and place an unobtrusive subscribe button on the blog. If your content is valuable, people will want that newsletter in their inboxes.

+ Got advertising money? Promote your most-read articles on Facebook.

+ It’s okay to share articles multiple times on social media during the week. Use different quotes from articles to keep things fresh.

+ Check out Buffer. It’s a great tool for scheduling social media updates.

+ Pro tip: You can crowdsource content for articles by starting conversations on social media (Twitter in particular). Just ask a question on any subject of interest.

4. Measure success and optimise.

Set goals (numbers, numbers) and define what success means to you where your blog is concerned.

For a start, you need to be able to answer these questions:

How many people visit your blog every day?

How long does the average visitor spend on the blog?

What are the most-read articles on your blog every week?

Has your bank’s Twitter following increased significantly since the blog was started?

When do you get the most clicks on article links posted on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn?

What are the sentiments expressed in comments people leave on the blog?

Should there even be a comments section?

Have there been fewer complaints since the blog was started?

Are people asking about your bank’s products on the blog?

With what you learn, you’ll be able to improve the blog’s layout, the quality and nature of your content and how it is distributed.

+ You need Google Analytics. It’s an eye-opener.

+ Use bit.ly to shorten and track every link you post on social media.

I’m always happy to help. Send me an email: ore@orefakorede.com or call me: 08096303479.

All the best.

Three Words Nigerian Companies Need To Stop Using On Social Media

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Nigerian companies are getting customer service wrong on social media, and it’s painful to watch. I could write entire articles about slow responses and the useless information companies provide in off-point answers to simple questions, but my major gripe is with the unnatural, non-conversational and alienating language carried over from corporate communications (read: emails) without any thought.

Note: If you’re the type to say “I’ll revert to your SMS later” in everyday conversation, stop reading this right away. You’re too far gone for help.

Two of the best things about social media are its simplicity and informality. It is absurd and even silly then for organisations to offload cumbersome language and incomprehensible essays on the timelines of people who are just looking for quick, straightforward help. I know where to go if I need to read an academic journal, thank you very much.

Three words in particular stand out as particularly offensive, and Nigerian companies need to delete them from their customer service vocabulary immediately.

1. Kindly

A pretentious, stuffy and ironical way of saying “please,” kindly makes your company seem like the corporate representation of a poseur with a stick up his butt-hole. If you’re going to say “please,” just say it. Inflexible formality is discomforting.

2. Escalate

Escalate is such a dangerous word to use in customer service conversations because of its ambiguity. Its most popular meaning, by far, is ‘worsen’. Tell me how a word that means ‘worsen’ will help calm an agitated customer. Don’t be foolish.

3. Revert

Contrary to popular Nigerian opinion, ‘revert’ doesn’t mean ‘reply’, it means to ‘go back to a previous state’. So every time you tell a customer you’ll revert (on an issue), what you’re really saying is that you’re not going to change anything. How very helpful of you.

The Social Media Hiring Guide For Nigerian Companies

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There are three kinds of Nigerian companies on social media: the ones who are confidently lost (adrift like a ship without a rudder) and don’t care, the ones who think they know what they’re doing (but look like crap) and the ones who are willing to learn.

This guide is for the ones in the last group, because they’re the most easy to save from shame.

  1. Hire a content writer who can actually write.

Because every brand has a story that needs to be told with good grammar.

Look out for:

– University-level writing

In this age of ‘half-baked graduates’, this may not mean much, but you’ll know it when you see it (if you’re not totally hopeless yourselves). It’s okay to ask for an essay as proof, preferably written on the spot.

+ If you’re totally hopeless at the English language, get someone who isn’t to read the essay. Someone like me.

– Copywriting chops

If you’re going to entrust someone with the huge responsibility of telling your brand story right, that person must know how to spin it interestingly. That’s what good copywriters do.

+ Ask for a portfolio of copywriting work.

– Speed

Turnover time is nearly as important as the quality of the writing being done. You don’t need someone who will take an entire week to deliver a 400-word article.

+ You also don’t need someone who writes quickly but doesn’t pay attention to detail. Hiring an editor is an extra cost that can be avoided.

2. Hire a dedicated community manager

Because your business depends on people and someone has to take care of them.

Look out for:

– A good conversationalist

The ideal person for this role must enjoy chatting, answering questions and asking them. People who write the way they speak are the best fit.

– An obvious social media addiction

It’s not enough to know that social networks exist and own accounts on one or two of them. The person you’re looking for should have an evident fear of missing out that makes them check their social media timelines and post updates regularly.

+ Be biased towards a person who is engaging and influential in their social media circles (no matter how small).

– A natural ability and zeal for customer service

Basically: emotional intelligence + patience + empathy + attention to detail + excellent communication skills

+ Anyone who hates to explain things shouldn’t bother applying.

3. Hire a graphic designer who listens

Because a large part of brand storytelling is visual.

Look out for:

– Proven design skills

Ask for a portfolio, “I can do it” is not convincing enough. And that portfolio had better not be scanty.

+ A portfolio that has too many identical designs is not a good sign. You’re going to need variety.

+ Corel Draw has its uses, but demonstrable Photoshop skills are a must-have in 2015 and beyond.

– Speed

Again, turnover time is nearly as important as the quality of work. You need a designer who can do a good job and still meet reasonable deadlines. Test this with a one-off paid commission before committing to a full-time hire.

+ Graphic design, like a lot of things in life, should not be done on short notice. Plan well ahead so the designer has sufficient time to do an excellent job.

– A good listener

Like most creatives, graphic designers have a reputation for being self-assured and fiercely independent (read: hard-headed) where their work is concerned. You need one who is open enough to listen to your brand story, because listening is key to understanding and a graphic designer who doesn’t understand your brand story cannot translate it into meaningful visuals.

Endnotes:

– Scale this list based on your organisation’s needs i.e it’s okay to make multiple hires for each role. A team of the right people built around each role should be your goal anyway.

– You may be pressed for time, but your hiring should never be driven by desperation. Resist the often disastrous temptation to hire an ill-suited temp as a stop-gap measure. Take your time to find the ideal person for each role instead.

– If you’re keen on hiring the right people and you’d like help with that, let me know. My contact details are at the bottom of this article.

– This is not a one-off. Over the next few weeks, I’ll publish more articles covering social media and content strategy, the best social media tools for your organisation and how to measure social media success.

All the best.

Ore Fakorede

Content Strategist & Copywriter

Twitter: @OreFakorede

Email: ore@orefakorede.com

Phone: 08096303479