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.


4 thoughts on “Starting the Conversation

  1. I am interested to see as your blog progresses what real opportunities banks have with social media. At first I was really only thinking large scale banks, but this is a good example of more personal banks. Where I am from there are only a few banks and I’m not really sure how my parents chose which bank we would be involved with. I wonder if it was because of something like being more involved in the community or if it was more business related. The ideas of the videos seem neat, but I feel like I would always go with who had the better rates, not who was most active in the community.

  2. I agree with Bethany’s comment on going with the bank who had the better rates, rather than their involvement in the community. Although I think this is a great platform to get people talking and connected about this particular bank, I think creating buzz around their employees customer service would be more attractive when picking what bank I would want to invest my money with. However, the involvement in the community posts show the realness behind the employees and at the end of the day I think people want to put their money where they feel its safe and people hold a high standard of integrity.

  3. Stephanie Gross says:

    I love that banks, an industry that wouldn’t traditionally have a place on social media, have provided themselves with such purpose with their customers. Although I think it’s important that banks understand what their consumer’s want, I feel like it’s more important for a service like a bank to generate buzz about things that improve their authenticity, trustworthiness, and customer service rather than causing a scene. I do think it’s a great opportunity for them to get their name out there, but this campaign could be even more effective if it helped to shed light on everything that makes them great at what they do.

  4. Facebook is a great way to start conversations and invite consumers to comment and interact on their page. Like Stephanie said, it is interesting how banks, a company that normally would not use social media, is using it to engage with their customers and improve customer service. Facebook can be a great way to get the company’s name out there and generate buzz.

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