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Finding your creative hook with Monzo's Richard Cook

Watch the replay of our workshop with Monzo's Social Media Manager, Richard Cook, on finding your creative angle - even in non-creative industries.

Sophie Thompson
20th August 2021

Everyone struggles with creativity at some point - even professional creatives! A problem that is often heightened if you're in an industry with strict rules and regulations, or isn't traditionally known for its creativity.

Creativity and content confidence is a talking point that comes up during many ContentCal webinars and a study by the World Economic Forum tells us that creativity is related to 9 of the top 10 skills essential for future success - making it a topic every business should be focusing on.

So we partnered with a brand that knows exactly how to break through the barriers and and has built an empire that makes talking about money fun and engaging: Monzo.

Monzo's Social Media Manager, Richard Cook, has helped to shape the brand's strategy and make the online bank a leader in engaging content.

Watch the full replay of Richard's workshop on finding your creative hook, or keep scrolling for the full summary:

If you're going to take one key message away from this session, let it be this!

Compliant doesn't = boring

Compliant = clear, fair, and not misleading

Richard began the session with a comparison between his work at Spotify, a music streaming company, and Monzo, an online bank. The point being, the content wasn't too dissimilar! Despite Monzo being a regulated company with rules and compliance galore (more specifically the FDA guidance), Richard's team are still able to have fun and get creative with their content, the same way Spotify do.

This is compliant...

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Success on social media platforms is content that grabs attention and perks interest - even if it’s a boring subject! You can still be reactive by jumping on trends, use bright and bold graphics, and utilize user-generated content...all while remaining totally compliant.

Your customers are more creative than you!

It's a hard pill to swallow, but for many brands like Monzo, Richard says their best content comes from the people that use them.

Monzo has created a culture where it's 'cool' to bank with them (thanks to its brand personality and brightly colored cards), so its customers enjoy sharing thoughts, homemade content, and experiences that associate them with the brand.

These positive (and very funny!) experiences help to build trust with the bank and even grow its customer base, as they are genuine, lived stories rather than advertising. Given that bankers are in the top 10 least-trusted professions - this is a huge step forward in the way we view financial institutions, and something other industries could learn from.

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So, how do you get people to engage with your brand?

Tip 1: Speak to customers in their own language

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If you're using industry lingo, your customers are probably not going to understand, and in turn, be less engaged. Having a human-to-human connection is what builds trust and likability, so by acknowledging challenges they might be facing (similar to the above) you're putting your brand on their level!

Richard says that data-driven content is particularly great for this. For example, Monzo noticed a lot of tweets coming through from customers on social media, around the topic of June 21st and spending too much money (the day that UK hospitality venues reopened after lockdown).

So, in response, Monzo created this fun infographic:

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Tip 2: There's no such thing as a boring topic, only boring content

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If you're in a regulated industry, it more than likely means you're talking about something serious or important such as money, health, or legal issues. But, you can use that aspect of your brand to your advantage, by turning 'boring' or jargon-filled topics into fun pieces of content that help people to learn.

The topic itself might not actually be as boring as you think (and it might be an important one for people to wrap their heads around), it's the way it's traditionally presented to us that's boring.

Richard suggests trying a bright and colorful infographic, or a TikTok video to spruce it up - while obviously being mindful to keep the tone and messaging appropriate.

Tip 3: React to what's happening

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Look at what's trending and see how you can relate it back to your brand! Monzo has absolutely nothing to do with WhatsApp, but swooped on this opportunity when the messaging app went down, by suggesting that you can send messages via Monzo when you send your friends money instead!

This is where you can take risks with social media marketing content for short-term pay-offs to build your brand and generate awareness. These quick fire content pieces are more likely to receive engagement than bigger campaigns, as they're referencing the here and now that everyone is talking about. This isn't about driving sales, it's about interacting with your audience and building a personality. The selling comes later.

If you watched our previous webinar with Steven Bartlett, you'll already know that Social Chain's key motto is 'do now, apologize later' - and that's exactly the approach Monzo is taking here!

Tip 4: Look outside your own industry for inspiration

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Although competitors are a great source of inspiration for content, Richard says a lot of Monzo's comes from outside of the finance industry altogether! Look at what's popular (in this case, this engaging Microsoft tweet) and identify how you can put your own spin on it and make it relevant to your brand.

In the case of Monzo, that meant doing a fun little tweet that allowed for audience interaction, showing the brand as being able to have fun outside of its serious core business.

How to talk about a difficult subject

Richard made three key points around talking about difficult or taboo topics:

  • Build communities! Safe spaces where people can share are far less hostile than just shoving content at them. Having a place such as a Facebook group where people share stories, ask for advice and interact with your brand in an informal way makes them more open to talking.

  • Take a more fun approach to your topic! A subject such as money is a tricky one. If you walked up to someone in the street and asked their salary, they'd probably tell you to go away. But, Monzo managed to flip this on its head and put out a super successful engagement post on Twitter saying "if your bank account could talk, what would it say?" which generated a whole load of responses. It's effectively a very similar question, worded in a better way. It encourages open conversations...even if it means laughing at yourself a little!

  • Be supportive! The reason Monzo's community works so well is that everyone in that community is supportive, which encourages other people to speak. Wholesome posts that celebrate people's achievements rather than just the negative side of finances make it seem like a lighter topic.

Richard's key takeaways

  • Be prepared to take risks. As long as you're remaining compliant, there's no reason you can't jump on a trend or have fun. Compliance shouldn't suck the life out of your content. Dreaming of that bold color palette? Use it!

  • User-generated content is the best content - and it's free! Your customers will have ideas that haven't even crossed your mind, and by using or collaborating on content with them, you're building relationships too. (Don't forget to ask before using any images or copy that you haven't created though).

  • Speak in your audience's language - jargon is great when talking to other professionals, but your audience want to feel like you understand them and their needs.

Don't forget to follow Richard on Twitter, and download our free social media posting template to help you put his points into practice.

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