In order for social media to work as a marketing tool or even just as a way to interact with customers, a bank needs to understand its own identity and then establish an appropriate corporate culture that consistently supports that identity.
“Having the right culture at your bank is critical to social media. It doesn’t mean that every bank has the same culture, but understanding who you are is critical to your own success,” says Amber Farley, director of interactive services and media, Financial Marketing Solutions.
She was speaking during the recent ABA telephone briefing/webcast, “Leading the Social Media Charge—Getting Leadership Buy-in and Building Excitement for Others in Your Bank.” (For information about obtaining a recording of the session, click here.)
“Every bank has a unique story or brand. It’s all about discovering what that is and then determining how best to communicate that story externally and internally,” Farley says. “Often this is in line with the CEO’s personality because a lot of times the brand of the organization is going to be in line with the leadership team’s personality and their vision for the bank.”
Social media adoption by banks depends on knowing the individual bank’s appetite for risk, she says. Some banks forbid its use by anybody but the marketing team, if at all. Others use software tools that allow a controlled environment of permission levels for social media access and posting on behalf of the bank. Others are completely open.
“More often than not I know of a lot of community banks that just want to take a step back, learn what other banks are doing, what they are doing successfully, and then just understand who they are before getting into social media,” Farley says.
Once all that is decided, however, it is just as important to convey to all employees how important the bank’s use of social media will be.
“You want interaction, both from customers, people who aren’t customers yet in the marketplace, and with employees. Employees should be advocates of the brand before the customers are,” she says.
Some general guidelines can help make a bank’s social media outreach successful:
• Trust your employees and invite them to interact, within whatever controlled environments the bank decides to adopt.
• Be transparent.
• Implement a social media policy with clear guidelines.
• Offer support and training.
• Recognize that everybody is human and mistakes happen.
• Have an overall plan of attack.
Added to these, Farley says, “Have fun. Make sure your employees do think this is a good thing, that it is something that is good for the organization and that you are all working together to achieve a common goal and objective. And share success, not just with the leadership team, but with all employees.”