Posted November 21, 2011 10:51 am by with 3 comments

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This is part 2 of a series of posts from Chris Lorence, the CMO of the Independent Community Bankers of America. Chris is working to get a very traditional group to “buy in” to social media and we are letting you in on the process he is going through. His first post introduced us to the battle he faced just getting his members’ attention. Today we see how Chris helps the uninitiated see the social media light.

This series is part of our ongoing effort here at Marketing Pilgrim to show the real world of social media rather than just the industry hype and drivel. Let us know what you think or even what you would like to see in the future.

It would be logical to blame the lack of interest and slow adoption rate of social media into the daily operations and marketing plans of community banks on a wide range of commonly accepted myths: there is no demand, it costs too much money, it’s a fad and, of course, there is no ROI. Dig a little deeper, however, and I’ve found it to be more complicated than that. In my experience over the last 24 months, I’ve learned that bank leadership genuinely feels overwhelmed by the impact of social media and its ability to generate a tidal wave of action. Furthermore, there is fear that one customer’s dissatisfaction could tarnish a reputation that often took generations to build.

Helping ease those fears and shine a light on the positive business opportunities social media brings to Main Street banks is what I’ve focused on over the last 24 months. So far I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find, even the staunchest naysayers are starting to soften. My approach? The four M’s of community banking and social media:

  1. MONITOR: If you do nothing else, know what’s being said about your bank. Subscribe to Google Alerts or use a service like Trackur and plug in your CEO’s name, bank name, any special brands you’ve created and of course your loan officers names. Remember, when someone mentions you in a social media outlet, they aren’t talking about you behind your back, they’re talking about you right in front of your face for a gazillion people to see. Be sure to assign someone to receive and analyze the daily email alerts.
  2. MOVE: Don’t just sit there and wait for someone to talk about you, do some talking of your own. Yes, we’ve all been taught that it’s vain to talk about ourselves but that was before social media. Resist the urge, however, to respond to everything said about you. It’s still ok to let a negative comment slide, especially if it’s an anomaly. If it’s grossly inaccurate, be polite and direct them to a more personal, out of the public eye conversation.
  3. MAXIMIZE: Look for ways to connect with others. Social media outlets are the ultimate networking facilitator. Don’t be shy! Do a search, find small businesses you do business with and ‘friend’ them; show them support. Increase your own presence by simply connecting with others. When you see someone doing well, pat them on the back. Positive remarks go a long way.
  4. MONETIZE: No, you won’t get rich being involved with social media (unless you develop the next Facebook) but you can drive traffic to your bricks & mortar or other sales channels by using social media to ask for the business. Remember, if you sound like a commercial, you’ll be ignored. Look for ways to provide value and always remember to be real. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not.

In the end it’s advice that we hear over and over again but based on some social media efforts it’s a mantra that needs to be said over and over until people move. Don’t you agree?

Marketing Pilgrim’s Social Channel is proudly sponsored by Full Sail University, where you can earn your Masters of Science Degree in Internet Marketing in less than 2 years. Visit for more information.

About the author

Chris Lorence is Executive Vice President/Chief Marketing Officer for the Independent Community Bankers of America, headquartered in Washington, DC. His duties include oversight and management of the organizations marketing & communications department, which includes political advocacy, social media integration, press relations, and brand management. Chris is also responsible for the organizations flagship award winning national magazine, Independent Banker® and 4 other strategically aligned membership and industry publications. As a member of the senior executive team, Chris works with management and staff to both create and bring to life the organizations strategic vision and initiatives. The ICBA enterprise consists of both a non-profit trade association with nearly 5000 members and five for-profit subsidiaries, one of which is a national bank. Before coming to ICBA, Chris was Chief Operating Officer of a community based financial organization and has over 15 years of senior management experience within the financial community.

  • It’s that not sounding like a commercial part that trips up most people. They don’t understand that the best promotion is not to “announce” a product but the be helpful and interesting, and slip your product in when appropriate. Don’t think advertising – think product placement.

  • When you wrote: “Don’t just sit there and wait for someone to talk about you, do some talking of your own.” -it reminds me of this blatant self promotion that many are doing on the Web, and a major turn off, that is. Sadly, traditional marketing doesn’t work like magic on the Social Web as social media is a living, breathing platform; it’s not about publishing media, but it’s all about building human relationships. I love it when you advice people to provide value and stay real – as these are keys to driving conversation about your brand these days.

  • Marketing Pilgrim says it is here to “show the real world of social media rather than just the industry hype and drivel.” Okay, here you go…

    First, the banking industry has been among the most aggressive in its adoption of social media. It’s easy — even fashionable — to label banks as conservative, risk averse institutions with a “lack of interest and slow adoption rate” for things like social media. No one ever questions such accusations, even though it simply isn’t true. The Financial Brand monitors over 1,500 different banks in the social media space. One study ranked banking third among the most active industries in social media, following only entertainment and travel.

    Second, financial institutions have been ridiculed, cajoled and browbeaten over “monitoring the social conversation.” Yet studies conducted by The Financial Brand have shown that a bank will see an average of 1 relevant mention on social media sites per month for every $100 million in assets they have. That isn’t very much, and for all but the largest financial institutions, isn’t really worth the time or effort. It’s not that it’s necessarily wrong to keep your ears open… just don’t be too disappointed when you find no one is talking about you. For most banks, it just isn’t happening. The notion that there are hoards of consumers talking online about average bank brands is an oft-perpetuated myth.

    Third, people have been telling banks and credit unions to hop on the social media bandwagon since at least 2005 without ever substantiating their rationale. Why??? Articles like this promise generalities and abstractions like the “positive business opportunities,” “the impact of social media and its ability to generate a tidal wave of action.” What are these opportunities? What is the impact? Where’s the proof? What business objectives can social media help a bank accomplish? If it’s untrue that social media has no ROI in banking, where’s the proof?

    Over the last five years, I’ve spent a good chunk of my time evaluating the social media initiatives pumped out by banks and credit unions. At first I was an optimistic and enthusiastic supporter, but between all the facts and failures, I’ve since concluded that among the thousands upon thousands of financial institutions engaged in social media, at least 90% have no idea what they are trying to do and are just spinning their wheels. For every 1 successful case study (which will likely come from a big bank), I can trot out at least 100 flops.