Social Media in the Banking Industry (Case Study)
In the banking industry, there are many who are either worried about how public pages like Facebook will affect customer security or simply don't know how to get started in the social media space. It's not hard to empathize with banks that are struggling with this new form of customer relationship building, branding, and online marketing. Operating in such a highly regulated industry it's no doubt that many banking executives are struggling with giving up some control over their public image and placing it in the hands of those they serve.
But here's an excellent, real-world case study of a community bank that's doing social right. This bank's positive word of mouth has never been stronger and their relationship with customers has never been closer.
Yampa Valley Bank
Yampa Valley Bank is your quintessential community bank with only two branches but incredible personalized attention. The mental hurdle that bank officers needed to overcome when starting out in social media was the fear of "losing control" of their marketing message. For many of the Marketing Committee members, platforms like Facebook were widely misunderstood. A majority of time at the beginning of this project was spent educating the bank about how social media marketing works (different from traditional media) and how it can effectively be applied to create a deeper loyalty within their customers.
THE FIRST MONTH:
When Colomark Media was originally retained to introduce the bank to social media marketing (April, 2012), we spent an entire month planning which platforms would be most effective and how they would fit into the marketing mix. At that time there was quite a lot of discussion about loss of information control, bank and customer privacy laws, and how it all applies to FDIC regulations. The bank's key executives were ready to begin with social media marketing but needed some coaxing in terms of getting started the right way and planning a successful strategy.
After about a month of strategy planning, it was decided that a combination of Facebook and YouTube were the bank's best outlets to reach local clients and foster a deeper relationship. In preparation for their public Facebook launch, Colomark Media facilitated:
- Posting back-dated photos and key events from the bank's history in an effort to give their NEWLY CREATED Timeline the appearance of longevity.
- Custom apps/tabs to highlight important aspects of the bank and let new fans know what they can expect. These included an EVENTS tab (which highlights their local sponsorships), a HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS tab (which ties in their support local young athletes), and a GUIDELINES tab (which covers them under FDIC privacy regulations). In addition to these, Colomark has worked to design seasonal apps that promote their sponsorship of the 4th of July Parade and Ride4Yellow charity fundraising involvement.
Yampa Valley Bank has always operated under the slogan "Genuine Hometown Banking." Their core customers live in the community, work in the community, own property here, and/or operate a small local business. Social media seemed like a natural fit to tie this all together more directly with their customers. Our approach to support and drive this message in social media included:
- Lots of PHOTOS!
- Of the events the bank sponsors or is a part of
- Of their employees and staff (birthdays, celebrations and general "behind the scenes" shots)
- Of their customers, and their customers PETS (this has triggered a wealth of response)
- Holidays and bank celebrations
- Video: we created a YouTube channel for the bank to use as a regular feature in their marketing message
- A series of "From The President" updates were filmed in a personalized, and down to earth way
- Videos are meant to show the personal and approachable way the bank works with its customers (i.e. not a "suit and tie" operation... more like friends and neighbors).
- The video campaign is still growing and the bank's marketing committee has plans to do more in 2013.
- Support and Cross-Talk with bank customers
- Yampa Valley Bank has a dedicated Social Media Team empowered to post and respond to comments throughout the day so their responses are timely and genuine. This demonstrates their commitment to social marketing.
- Colomark has worked to educate Yampa Valley Bank on the power of Using Facebook as a Page and posting relevant comments on other local business pages. This shows that they care enough to listen and follow others, while indirectly introducing their bank to prospective new customers.
- Yampa Valley Bank tags customer businesses and links to local news & business features whenever possible. Their customers love the feeling they get from seeing that their bank cares enough to promote them in social media.
Yampa Valley consistently posts to Facebook and YouTube and keeps an active presence in social media. Everything they post and do in social media supports the message of Genuine Hometown Banking. By showing the caring and personal side of banking, customers and prospects feel drawn to choosing YVB as their best banking solution.
A STAND OUT CAMPAIGN:
We managed and ran a "Sponsored Story" campaign on Facebook in the month of November. The bank committed to match up to $5,000 in charitable contributions to the local Boys & Girls Club and our job was to spread the word. A special Facebook landing tab was created for the event and Facebook pay-per-click advertising was used to drive user traffic and awareness. The results from the ad campaign were:
- Campaign Dates: 11/16-11/27, 2012
- Total Amount Spent: $478.84
- Overall Campaign Reach: 20,851 individuals
- Total Campaign Actions & Clicks: 2,125
- 302 NEW fans generated
Not a bad ROI for less than $500 in advertising. In addition to the positive boost this created for the bank's following and reputation, the campaign netted the Boys & Girls Club $8,160 which enabled them to keep their facilities open during the holidays when public schools were on break. Win-Win!
BRINGING IT HOME:
Going from absolutely no social media presence in April of 2012 through the end of the year, Yampa Valley Bank has attracted over 400 Facebook fans. Almost all of these people are local residents and have incredible reach in terms of spreading positive word of mouth for the bank. In a town of roughly 10,000 full-time locals, this translates to almost 5% of the population being connected to the bank through Facebook. Almost every update the bank posts gets some form of engagement with either likes or comments which keeps their Facebook EdgeRank very high.
Even within an industry that has a reputation of being rigid, unimaginative and frankly, uninteresting to the masses, Yampa Valley Bank has found a way to break through the advertising clutter and strengthen their relationship with customers. Yampa Valley Bank has been able to reach customers in a more personal way that goes beyond what their traditional advertising is able to do. Yampa Valley Bank continues to experiment with different social media strategies and is no longer afraid of "losing control" of their marketing message. Local clients now speak on their behalf... and it's all positive!
Follow David Wittlinger on Twitter