When I consider social media networking today, I wear two hats. One hat is my “friendship interaction” hat. The other is my “marketing consultant” hat. I have my marketing consultant hat on for this blog. Let me know if you want to talk about the friendship part sometime…it is a lot of fun, too!
As a bank marketing consultant, I look at social media networks as a tremendous opportunity to create top-of-mind awareness for my business as well as that of my clients. The numbers of people using Facebook and Twitter alone, and jumping on board daily, is mind-boggling. These are the two most popular that I like for marketing.
According to istrategylabs, there are nearly 72 million Facebook users, an increase of 70.8 percent between January 4, 2009 and July 4, 2009. Users in the age category of 55+ increased 513.7 percent in the same time period. And this number keeps growing. People in some of our businesses and social circles might not have jumped onboard yet…but they are aware of it and talking about it daily.
In my mind, social networks in business are another form of advertising and promotion. They are not tools to build relationships…they are tools to begin relationships through top-of-mind awareness. As a marketer, I am always looking for economical ways to build and maintain top-of-mind awareness. I look at these social networks as tools to bring people to a community bank, just like a billboard or a post card. And of course as a marketer I am always looking at demographics as well. But, even if we are promoting the message of community banking we are creating a top-of-mind image campaign for our business.
There is some misconception about the use and the audience for social networks. Many businesses think that if they have a Facebook page or Twitter account or other social networks that their employees will be on them at work. Make no mistake; this is not about “personal” social accounts. What I advocate is having your marketing expert put up these pages and maintain them just as they would a direct mail campaign, radio commercial or billboard. We would never let our staff take the liberty to interact with our design or copy of a marketing campaign. (Sometimes they want to change our logo…but that is another story!) We would never allow them to make any changes to our social network contents. Nor does it ever give them permission to access their own personal networks at the bank! This is not about employee use.
Simply, social networks, in our business, are another opportunity to promote our business, community banking and all the wonderful things our community banks do for us as individuals, families and businesses. Again, we might not personally want to jump onboard, but the numbers are staggering when you look at the folks using these networks. So, even if we are not personally interested in using these mediums…there are millions of consumers who are.
Believe it or not, many people today use Twitter and Facebook as their daily news source. If you have a Twitter account you know the number of individuals and businesses in your community who are Twittering. In my community, I am connected to the local news stations, news makers, the movers and shakers or “sneezers” of the city and multiple businesses that will get to know me and perhaps promote my business. I have already met many wonderful business people at luncheons or social events – began to follow them on Facebook or Twitter – we are now friends and colleagues promoting each others’ businesses. Sure, there are other people from all over the world who might want to tweet with you, but you can limit them and just focus on the people in your community or industry.
As for costs, I never recommend spending a lot of time or money putting these networks together. You can check out my social networking pages on my Web site. There are many banks today that have spent a lot or a little. Have seen some success…or have not found that it has helped their business. I always believe in spending as little as possible but making things look as classy as possible. Social networking is a national trend…and here to stay for at least another 12 to 18 months…or until something more fun and fascinating comes along. The way I see it…if nothing else, we can use these networking tools to promote the wonderful things community bankers do for our communities.
Your community bank partner.