Facebook may be a way for banks tor reach the vast consumer market, but to reach business leaders, banks are employing a more targeted approach. One platform that has the ear of the C-suite is LinkedIn. BNP Paribas is making a major push on using it to connect with business clients.
It’s part of a broader strategy the bank rolled out over two years ago to reach customers on social media, including Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter. Since September of last year, it has amped up its LinkedIn efforts to reach business clients through sponsored ads linking to content on its websites. BNP’s outreach has been successful enough to be part of a marketing campaign for LinkedIn on how the platform can be used to reach decision makers.
“LinkedIn is the most powerful platform to push our content to different stakeholders and prospects,” said digital partnerships manager Romain Chapron. “Facebook is very useful for business-to-consumer retail, but when we want to tack to business-to-business clients, LinkedIn is definitely more efficient — our C-level audience is spending a lot of time on LinkedIn.”
Although BNP Paribas has corporate LinkedIn pages for a mass audience, the focal point of its business outreach is through is corporate and institutional banking page. The group is the organizational unit within the bank that handles capital markets, securities services, financing, treasury and financial advisory products.
Chapron said that the group’s LinkedIn outreach includes sponsored posts that appear within newsfeeds that link back to articles on BNP’s online content. The posts also appear on BNP’s corporate and institutional banking LinkedIn homepage. They span a range of topics, with recent headlines addressing the digital transformation of finance (“How are startups transforming banking?”) energy (“India switches on to solar’s potential”) and millennial outreach (“Next generation digital experience: a new breed of client.”). They include video stories, infographics and features. Using profile data of individuals who engaged with BNP’s content, it’s able to target content to specific demographics — be it potential business clients or people who may want to work for the bank.
According to BNP, from September 2016 to March 2017, the LinkedIn corporate and institutional banking marketing push drove over 60,000 visits to the BNP Paribas’ own content hub, and LinkedIn follower numbers more than doubled from 11,404 to 23,475. The campaign also reached over 5.4 million LinkedIn members in the target audience.
To analysts, LinkedIn is a natural fit for financial services companies, given the opportunities for the bank to engage with senior officials within potential client businesses.
“As a financial institution, you need to go where the decision makers are — and they aren’t necessarily on Facebook or Instagram, they’re on LinkedIn,” said Mark Arnold, a branding consultant who works with financial services companies.
Arnold added that the idea of using content to help the bank appear as the resource that can solve problems for business clients is an engagement technique that’s preferable to a raw product push.
Rory O’Flaherty, vp of performance media at ad agency Huge, said LinkedIn is more of a “middle funnel” marketing tool for banks — one that’s an effective way to engage customers rather than driving initial awareness or closing the deal. Others in the space say it’s part of LinkedIn’s transformation in recent years from a career tool for individuals to a content hub for companies with robust targeting capabilities.
“The shift to becoming a content hub was a wakeup call for brands, particularly because of the type of targeting that LinkedIn provides,” said Katie Kinnear, senior manager of social media at financial services marketing agency Cognito. “With their standard profile targeting, there’s already a lot of options, but you can can get very niche — most recently this year, when they launched the matched audiences option, they can take company data from sales teams or CRM systems and use that and layer that with the profile data.” For example, a company can upload a conference attendee list and layer on top specific criteria like “employees with five years’ experience.”
In addition to content marketing, BNP also uses LinkedIn for lead generation through targeted messages to prospective clients with the help of LinkedIn Sales Navigator and ads to attract prospective employees through the LinkedIn Work with Us Feature.
According to a recent L2 study of 67 financial brands, LinkedIn appears to be underused among financial services companies compared to Twitter and other platforms. This year, for example, of a total of 123,000 social media posts across platforms, just 5 percent were on LinkedIn compared to 79 percent were on Twitter. In addition, across 15.4 million total interactions across platforms, LinkedIn captured just 2 percent, compared to 75 percent for Facebook. According to the study, other brands that use LinkedIn heavily include Goldman Sachs, Citi, and JP Morgan Chase.
Kinnear said BNP has the benefit of being among the first of the large financial brands to a make a major marketing push through LinkedIn.
“They’re at the forefront of investment in LinkedIn [as a marketing tool],” she said. “It’s a brave move in what’s still an emerging platform.”