In recent years, we’ve seen a number of industries move towards a full-on embrace of social media. Whether it’s to maintain a relevant presence amongst their customer-base or to stay one step ahead of competitors, it’s quite clear that social media has become a more relevant resource for companies and organizations looking for innovative ways to further their brand. Known for being more conservative in their social approach, banks are slowly learning the value of social media and the perks of engaging with their customers in a two-way symmetrical communication model.
With the use of social media content steadily increasing, banks are influenced to push for more inventive or original ways to promote themselves. With several banks, big and small, working diligently to win customers’ business, the competition across the banking landscape has become fierce. Some examples that prove banks are making the move to shed their rigid reputations include:
• Central National Bank in Waco, Texas, which posted a video on YouTube showing why banks make the decision to close on Columbus Day, thus earning them social media fame.
• First State Bank, which can be found in Gothenburg, Nebraska, engages with their business customers by promoting them on their platform in return for promotion on the business’s social media platforms as well.
• First Bank Financial Centre in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin posts every week on Facebook a photo of a bobblehead figure of their CEO Mark Mohr as a part of a “Where’s Mark Wednesday” campaign. The photos are taken in different locations, and people can comment and guess where the photo was taken. The first person to guess correctly wins a prize, like a $10 gift card.
Source: The State of Social Media in Banking – Results of an American Bankers Association research study
Vice President of Marketing at First Bank Financial Center, Jeff McCarthy, agrees that in order to reinvent their model and distance themselves from the current public perception, banks need to find innovative ways to represent their brand. McCarthy goes on to say, “Banks are often viewed as cold and impersonal. We see social media as an opportunity to portray the warmth and culture that we have here.”
The Application of Strategic Social Media Within Banks
In the current banking environment, strategic social communication has become an integral component of how banks build relationships with their customers and communities. Most notably, banks have moved towards providing more fast and efficient solutions for the Millennial generation. In an interview with Forbes.com, Jeremy K. Balkin, “an expert in the engagement of Millennials in the financial services sector and author of Millennialization of Everything: How to Win When Millennials Rule the World,” pointed out that, “Millennials today live in a mobile-first, handheld powered world… Today, more than 60% of people choose to bank on their mobile device first, and by 2020 it’s estimated some 1.9 billion people will be banking on mobile.”(Belbey, J., 2017). The majority of consumers, not just the younger generation, tend to gravitate towards convenience, and with that idea in mind, more banks in the financial services industry are working on producing options for their customer bases.
The Impact of Using Social Media Wisely
With such a great number of the general population spending time online, banks would be careless to miss out on the opportunity to engage with customers on their social media platforms. Social media provides banks with a cheap and effective way to maintain that two-way symmetrical communication model in which people can be heard, and in turn, banks have a direct line to learning the needs of their customers.
Social media usage by banks is enhancing their deployment of this approach by providing them with a direct way to interact with customers one-on-one. Directly interacting with customers means building trust, opening a line of communication where customers can be heard, and banks can establish mutual understanding and respect amongst their clients.