ABA Banking Journal - March/April 2016 - (Page 40)
in a Virtual World
Social networking helps banks connect with the communities they serve.
BY JULIE KNUDSON
elationships are the foundation
of community banks, and
they are evolving as social
media platforms impact how,
where and when financial
institutions connect with customers.
As social media becomes ubiquitous,
Billy Beale, president and CEO at Union
Bankshares Corporation in Richmond,
Va., says the relationship between
banks and their customers hasn't
fundamentally changed, but it has taken
on a different look.
"You can now use social media to
align yourself with a community," he
explains. Beale moderated a panel
at ABA's Annual Convention in Los
Angeles, where experts discussed
banks' evolving use of social media and
how successful digital strategies lead to
better customer engagement.
"We have essentially invited our
neighborhoods to be in constant
conversation with us," says Josh
Rowland, vice chairman at Kansas City,
Mo.-based Lead Bank. He sees social
media as a new and better instrument
to forge the connections banks have
always sought to make with the
communities they serve. By engaging
with customers through event photos
posted on Instagram and local business
spotlights on Facebook, Rowland says,
"You've broken down the barriers that
would exist if you didn't reach beyond
the hourly open schedule of the
institution and the walls of the bank."
ABA BANKING JOURNAL | MARCH/APRIL 2016
For organizations unsure about the
role social media can play in their
customer engagement efforts, Sally
Ann Moyer, an associate at Spaeth
Communications in Dallas, says,
"That's where their audience is.
That's where the world is going. The
community bank that wants to be
part of the world in 2015 and into the
future needs to get on the train or get
Banks continue to maintain robust
websites, of course, but many are
supplementing them with interactive
Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, Instagram
accounts and other social media
channels where followers are free to
make comments and ask questions.
"They call it social for a reason," Canning
says of the two-way dialogue that forms
a valuable launching pad for building
deeper relationships with customers.
And while millennials are often seen
as the barometer for use of online
platforms, the demographics of those
embracing social media are much
broader. Statistics gathered by the Pew
Research Center showed seniors' use
of Facebook, for example, grew from
35 percent in 2012 to 56 percent in
late 2014. Moyer says social media
has begun to replace the phone and
even email for an increasing number
of people. "In consumers' minds, it
has become the most direct line of
contact," she adds.
But by initiating the conversation, banks
need to acknowledge that not everything
happening online is positive. Complaints
or criticisms may be posted occasionally,
neither of which is the end of the world if
handled correctly. "I've seen some banks
where, instead of addressing them, they
delete the comments," says Patricia A.
Husic, president and CEO at Centric
Financial Corporation in Harrisburg, Pa.
Mobility is a big part of social media.
Smartphones in particular are always
within reach, with people shopping,
texting and checking social media
feeds at all hours. "In many ways, the
mobile phone is becoming the de facto
storefront for banks, in that you can
use it now to check balances, make
payments and activate deposits,"
says Jerry Canning, head of financial
services at Facebook. "All those things
can be done on a mobile device."
Removing unflattering posts is perhaps
the worst strategy a bank can employ.
Instead, offering to discuss and fix the
problem keeps the conversation going
and demonstrates the institution's
dedication to service. "Let them know
you're happy to talk over their concerns
or challenges help them get a resolution,"
Husic says. "Nobody wants to be
ignored." Banks that deal with online
complaints promptly and tactfully may
even see other posters chiming in with
positive experiences as a counterpoint,
reinforcing the community nature
of social media and extending the
conversation with customers.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ABA Banking Journal - March/April 2016
LEARNING THROUGH LITERATURE
PUMPING IT UP
CRE AT A CROSSROADS
LAYING A FOUNDATION FOR INNOVATION
A PASSION FOR ADVOCACY
WHY BANK CONSOLIDATION IN THE U.S. WILL LIFT OFF IN 2016
ABA COMPLIANCE CENTER INBOX
BOOKS FOR BANKERS
FROM THE STATES
CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
INDEX OF ADVERTISERS
ABA Banking Journal - March/April 2016