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So You’re on Social Media? Prove It.

July 14, 2011 2 comments

Dilbert.com

Well congratulations.  You’ve been successful with setting up the Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube accounts for your financial institution.  You’ve also set up a blog that has more than 100 daily readers.  You’ve even run a few Foursquare and Facebook contests.  Your Twitter account is actually used to communicate with customers, not just blast marketing messages.  I’ll bet you’re even looking into get your own special badge on Gowalla.

Looking at your website, you have all your social media icons listed on your home and contact us pages.  They can even be found on the footer of all your pages. And the best part?  Upper management bought in after you proved the business case for why social media is important.

But are you really all in yet?  The next time you’re watching those shows on DVR, watch some commercials instead of skipping them.  Did you notice that some companies mention their Twitter and Facebook pages in their commercials?  Open a few non-industry magazines and look at the ads.  Notice Twitter and Facebook icons there also?

Now look at the marketing material you send out.  I’m willing to bet that you don’t promote your social media sites on anything other than your website.  If you go into your branches, you won’t see any icons listed on your displays either.  But you know what you will find?  The link for your website.

The adoption of social media reminds me of when online banking came onto the scene.  It seems like it took forever for banks and credit unions to promote their website in their marketing materials.  Online banking was the driving force for getting websites promoted by marketing.

I’ve seen some discussion about low numbers of Facebook fans and Twitter followers.  Because these numbers are so low, people question the validity of social media in financial services.  This same argument was used when online banking first became available.  If you build it, people won’t necessarily come.

Yes, most of your online banking customers probably know you’re on Facebook and Twitter.  But that’s just because they noticed it on the homepage when they were logging into online banking.  Besides, that’s only about 25-35% of your customers.  We all know the online banking login screen is the #1 hit page on your website.

You have other marketing channels that you need to use to promote your social media presence.  There is absolutely no excuse for you to not list your links on direct mail, email messages, commercials, and branch displays.  I’m sure they will fit right beside or below your website link.  And if you’re really social media savvy, you’ll create and display a special #hashtag for your customers to use.

Comic from Dilbert

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More Reasons Your FI Should Be On Twitter

Hubspot posted an article about facts that can help justify companies using Twitter. A few of them stood out as being important to banks and credit unions:

5. Twitter users are more educated than the general population.
63% of Twitter users have a 4-year college degree or higher, as compared to only 40% of the general population. If your product/service/company is targeting a more educated customer, there’s a good chance they’re tweeting—or will be soon.

6. Twitter users have higher incomes than the general population.
47% of Twitter users earn $50k or more per year; 24% earn more than $75k. Compare that to 33% and 18% among the general population, respectively.

8. Twitter plays an active role in purchasing decisions.
42% of Twitter users rely on this channel to learn about new products/services, and 41% of them share opinions about products/services via Twitter. Soliciting opinions about products/services and seeking out discounts/coupons/sales are also popular Twitter-based activities.

9. 67% of Twitter users are more likely to buy brands that they “follow”.
Whether interaction on Twitter is the cause of this greater allegiance or not is unclear—but it certainly seems that extra Twitter love doesn’t hurt.

10. Companies that use Twitter average 2x more leads per month than those that do not.
This, perhaps, is the most compelling reason of all to invest some time on Twitter—particularly if your target customer is educated, affluent, and tends to be an early adopter.

Read more: 10 Essential Twitter Stats

The Elephant (Banker) In The Room

November 3, 2010 6 comments

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the CU Water Cooler Symposium. When Matt Davis invited me, I was very hesitant. “You actually want a banker to attend?”, I asked.  “Sure, why not?”, was the response. “You can bring a different perspective.”

So off to Fishers, IN I went. Let me tell you, this had to be the best conference I’ve ever attended. There were two days of great speakers and a wealth of information. As someone commented, if you didn’t get a ticket because you thought it would just be about social media, bad mistake.

The tweets from the event are only a sample of a information we received. You can find an archive here.

While the symposium as a whole was great, I’d just like to highlight a few sessions:

Robbie Wright, from CU Innovators, spoke about using social media to discuss the hard topics.  He said that instead of just talking about marketing fluff, we should try solving the hard problems.  Credit unions need to focus on the non-sexy to stand out for their customers.  At the end of the day, credit unions are a business, not a charity.  They can’t just focus on “being on Twitter and Facebook”. Social media needs to add value to customers and the credit union.  You should build a business case to use these tools and income is a good thing.

Rebecca Corliss, from Hubspot, gave a presentation on inbound marketing.  I’m a big fan of Hubspot and have always wanted to meet someone from the company. Hubspot really helps you leverage your online presence to generate leads. Old school marketing is interruption based while the new school is permission based.  Some advice Rebecca gave was to think of inbound marketing as an ecosystem, not a cubicle.  You need to target your keywords in order to build your rank.  Inbound marketing is an investment and can build down the cost of leads.  Another piece of advice was to have more than one “contact” form.  The forms on your website should have a “call to action”, not just ask for generic information.

Ed Brett, from Westminster Savings, would probably get the vote for best speaker.  No slides, just straight talk.  Ed explained that although his credit union was much smaller than the competition, they were able to compete because they take advantage of their small size.  Smaller companies are able to be much more agile so there are less levels to go through to get to a decision.  At larger companies, there are more politics, agendas, and decision makers.  Also, credit unions need to be better bankers than the bankers.  This is a business and they need to help people do their banking better.  There should be less emphasis on social media and more on simplifying banking.  If you want to be agile, you should partner with agile vendors.  At the end of the day, you need to bring value to your members.  Ed also gave three statements that really stood out to me:

1. I challenge you to find other industries that are seeking to model their service after credit unions (banks).
2. The only innovation in financial services over the last 50 years has been in ‘access’
3. Your job is not to use technology, but to apply it.

Maya Bourdeau, from Attune, spoke about Psychology in Marketing.  She talked about how her company discovered that small sample sizes gave as good results as large pools of participants.  But, of course you have to be very discriminate in selecting your small sample.  Another thing they discovered through their marketing development was credit unions need to show two times the value to get members to switch from a bank.  They also said to keep it simple and explain the personal benefit.  For example, instead of saying “we helped people save over $7 billion”, say “we can help YOU save $200”.

In addition, I had the opportunity to be on the expert panel about credit union branding.  One recurring theme was credit unions really need to sit down and decide what they want to be.  I mentioned that credit unions need to play to their strengths and explain how they’re different from banks.  Most people don’t know what the difference between the two is.  I also stated that “credit unions can’t out bank a bank, we’ve got that down”.

All in all, this was a great conference and I’m looking forward to going back next year.  One question I was continually asked was, “why don’t you work for a credit union?”.  My response was, “I believe I’m a credit union person trapped in a banker’s body.”  As Morriss Partee said, that statement is “an instant classic”.

You can find more summaries here:
CU Times
unCUlturers
Committed to Memory
Currency Marketing
The 2020 Vision of Marketing
Video of Presentations

Location, Location, Location

Lately there’s been a lot of buzz in the mainstream about location games from companies like foursquare, brightkite, GoWalla and Booyah’s MyTown. Facebook is also getting into the space with their new Locations feature and Google has Google Latititude. The question is, how can banks and credit unions get in on the game? TDECU and North Shore Bank are two financial institutions that give rewards to the mayors of their branches. But does this really fit into a FI’s strategy, as most have driven customers to online, self service channels? The Financial Brand gives a great breakdown of why may not the best approach.

We’ve also been kicking around some ideas of incorporating location games into promotions. Giving a reward to only the mayors of our branches didn’t seem a good idea long term. We too see that our branch traffic is down and most people only check-in there to earn a badge. Earning badges that are specific to our bank was another idea, but customers would still only be trying to earn a badge.

While updating my locations on Foursquare the other day, the light bulb came on. Why not use the Promotions and To Do features of Foursquare? For example, get a gift certificate if you come in and sit with a FSR/CSR to make a personal financial plan. Or you can make a To Do of signing up for your new mobile banking or PFM service. The trick is to help your customers do more than just check-in for a badge. By giving them a task, you both can come away with something positive.

BarCampBankCharleston: Recap

March 1, 2010 1 comment

Well, we finally pulled BarCampBankCharleston off.  Although there were only six of us in attendance, I believe everyone felt that the event was very rewarding.

Jared Smith (@jaredwsmith) from ReadWriteWeb kicked off the first session with a talk about social media.  Because it was mostly First Federal employees at the event, he geared his talk towards how we used social media.

Since we already have a Facebook page and twitter account (@firstfederal), he gave us some ideas about how we could use these sites for lead generation.  One example was using geo-targeting in advanced search on Twitter to target prospective customers.  Another was using Collecta for real-time search about any posts about our bank.

He seemed impressed with what we’re currently doing.  One thing he mentioned was not sending private information through social media.  He said that personally, he would feel very uncomfortable contacting his bank with confidential information through such a channel.

Next, Adrienne Cobbs, from First Federal, gave a presentation on business continuity plans.  Some things she talked about were recovery and resumption tasks for critical business processes, alternative facilities and establishing reliable communications with employees and customers.

She mentioned that continually testing your plan was critical.  A disaster is a poor time to find out that your offsite changed the tape backups and yours’ are no longer compatible or the phone system only has one working line.

Using social media was also brought up as a way to keep employees and customers informed.  For instance, if our website was down, we could post information on our Facebook page and use Yammer to get information to employees.  Keeping the media informed was also a key point.

Finally, Quintin Sykes (@bank_daddy) from Cornerstone Advisors spoke about trends in the banking industry.  One thing that stood out to me was the payments space.  Phone manufacturers seem to be holding off on NFC until the merchants have their systems in place.  But the merchants are waiting until customers have devices that can use NFC.  Classic chicken and egg scenario.  Also, there are many vendors but universal standards haven’t been set yet.

Another thing was the jury is still out on the benefits of PFM.  Although I’ve heard that it helps drive up retention rates, hard numbers haven’t been issued.  So if banks can’t quantify a ROI, they will be reluctant to jump into offering the product.  I plan to discuss my thoughts about this in a later post.

Overall, I think BarCampBank was a success and I look forward to helping organize another one next year.  We’ll really have to get the word out and let people know that collaboration is a good thing.  Just knowing about new tools and what the future for the industry holds is valuable stuff that we can all use.  I’d also like to thank our sponsors: ECPI College of Technology, ClairMail and Cornerstone Advisors. See you next year.

First Federal on Social Media, Part Deux

March 27, 2009 2 comments

First Federal has now added their social media links to their Contact Us Page.  So far, the Twitter account has mostly been used to announce workshops that the bank has sponsored.

First Federal Contact Us

First Federal Contact Us

Here are the links to their sites:

Twitter: @firstfederal

Facebook: First Federal FB

YouTube: First Federal Online

Time To Get Social

Well, First Federal is starting to tip its toe into the pool of social media. After securing our Twitter account last year, I began having occasional lunch meetings with our webmaster and our contact in Marketing.  We’ve been discussing some strategies and have looked at what other banks and credit unions are doing.

Needless to say, with everything happening in our industry, tools that can provide free marketing are starting to look pretty good.  Also, permission marketing seems to be a better way to connect with our customers and market.  It doesn’t hurt that one of our local competitors is also embracing the web in their business strategy.

With that said, I’d like to invite you all to follow us on the following sites:

Twitter: @firstfederal

Facebook: First Federal FB

YouTube: First Federal Online

Also, you can follow me on Twitter at @gpasley.