Monthly Archives: February 2014

Fan Engagement

While small financial institutions may be finding success in engaging their local towns, they do not have certain obstacles that larger financial institutions have. Larger financial institutions have to be invested in both the amount of customers (or even prospective customers) liking their Facebook page etc., and the amount of engagement those likes contribute afterwards. According to a survey done by PYMNTS, 80% of consumers with credit/debit cards follow their bank on a form of social media, but only 29% said they actually participate in the conversation on the platforms. Banks not only have to strive for quantity, but quality as well.

A national bank that is exceling at achieving quantity and quality is Bank of America. While they have 1.1 million fans on Facebook, they are achieving a 7% engagement rate, compared to the average for brands with over a million fans, which is .09%. Basically, they are engaging fans 77% more effectively. The Financial Brand contributes Bank of America’s success to their focus on programs that benefit customers in the military. Community service campaigns are one of the ways they keep their fans engaged.

Bank of America Military Support


The Dutch bank ABN AMRO is another financial institution that is exceling at keeping customers engaged. This bank realized early on that getting into social media does not just mean listening and responding. ABN AMRO was proactive and began to offer their customers support for every day life. Econsultancy deems this as advancing from “one-off engagement” (answering a question or responding to a complaint) to  “relationship-building”.


Starting the Conversation

Many banks have started using Facebook in order to reach out to their customers and improve their customer service. These banks realize that there are conversations going on in which they are the topic, and not joining in these conversations would be a lost opportunity. However, some banks do not understand that being present on a social media platforms such as Facebook is not enough. Financial institutions, like other industries, need to start conversations and participate in those already started.

This is what has been driving success for local banks such as Mercantile Bank. Michelle Shangraw, the Senior Vice President and Retail Banking Director for Mercantile Bank, explains how this local bank in Michigan not only starts the conversation, but they start it in real life. She claims that since they are a local bank in a small community, their biggest concern is connecting with the community. In order to keep people in the community talking about Mercantile, their employees have been participating in MercMobs. During these “mobs”, Mercantile Bank employees get out into the community by crowding a local restaurant during lunch in hopes of generating buzz. Along with this, employees participate in community service. Mercantile launched a campaign based upon a foundation called “make a difference” and uploads videos of employees participating and giving back.

Below is a picture of Mercantile Bank of Michigan employees volunteering at a local elementary school.

Courtesy of Mercantile Bank of Michigan's Facebook

Courtesy of Mercantile Bank of Michigan’s Facebook

Mercantile Bank not only creates buzz in the community, but on their Facebook page as well. They post things people can relate to, rather than trying to advertise financial opportunities on a platform where people go to connect. Another bank that understands this concept is Farmers and Merchants Bank, which posts “local community events” on its FB page.

Strategy Corps, a company that helps financial institutions engage customers, asked people how they felt about banks on Facebook in this video. Check out more of their videos here.

Practicing Safe Social Media

It is mandatory that financial institutions develop relationships with consumers. However, it is of greater important that these institutions keep consumers’ information safe. Recently, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) declared certain risks associated with the use of social media. They published a guide to social media platforms, which explains that the more platforms an institution is participating on, the more they need to access their risk.

The biggest concern the FFIEC has when it comes to financial institution’s online presence is privacy and criminals. Although all industries worry about this, financial institutions have greater responsibility due to the fact that they are dealing with consumers finances. They are at risk for things such as loan loss, physical theft, and identity theft. The FFIEC says, “Financial institutions should consider the use of social media monitoring tools and techniques to identify heightened risk, and respond appropriately.”

In the video below, Credit Suisse, a financial services holding company located in Switzerland, explains how they are limited on social media platforms because of security issues. Watch 2:41 to 3:25. 

While the FFIEC recommends that the financial industry to take responsibility for these dangers, Fox Business recently published an article that advices consumers to take precautions themselves. They report that Ariel Sanchez of IOActive, a blog about online security,  did a test with banking apps and found that 90% contained malicious links that could exploit a consumers banking information. While there are steps that financial institutions can take to make sure their apps are more secure, there is no way to make an app 100% safe. Sanchez gives basic tips on how consumers can be more active in keeping their banking information safe, such as password protecting your phone.

The FFIEC does not discourage financial institutions from using social media platforms, or deny that they can give them leverage if used properly and safely. In one section of their guide published, the FFIEC warns financial institutions that consumers will still talk about you on social media platforms even if you are not present. 

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