Friday, October 30, 2009

More about Consumer Demand

Ironically, soon after my last post, I came across an article in eMarketer entitled "Consumers Demand Brand Interaction". This research really supports, statistically, what I wrote about as well. After interacting through these channels, consumers felt that they:
  • had a more positive impression of the brand
  • felt a stronger connection to the company
  • believed they had a better service experience

These positive impressions were felt by seven out of ten respondents, a pretty strong endorsement. If you aren't already in the social media space, think about the implications for you. How do you think these consumers, when faced with an organization that isn't engaged, feel about that brand? Probably the way the frustrated Florida banking customer felt.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Why Banks need Social Media

I recently came across a blog post titled Who needs Social Media? My Banks! The writer complains about trying to reach his local branch of a large bank in Florida. He finds it quite difficult to get a phone number let alone reaching out to his bank through other channels (ie Twitter). He is now considering switching banks.
It highlights the basic challenge we face as bankers. As he notes, we often talk about banking as a relationship between us and our customers. If so, how can you not get involved in social media? The ability to reach out, in real time, is one of the key attributes of these channels. For both parties. And isn't that really what customer service and relationships are all about?
FYI- if you are a bank with a location in Boca Raton, FL and are using social media, you may want to reach out to him. Sounds like a good prospect!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Incoprorating social media in (any) business

While the goal of this site is to focus on banking, there are a lot of really good experts out there talking about social media. I recently came across a blog post on the Web Worker Daily site called "Tips from the Trenches: Using Social Media in Business". The themes are pretty consistent with our experience:
1) Jump in and try it first.
2) Listen and learn.
3) Be authentic.
Once you are in the space, then determine if and/or how it will best work for your business objectives. I think the "Ready, Shoot, Aim" approach may summarize it nicely.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Just added a new post on my blog, Banking on Social Media.

What's a picture worth, anyway?

Social media can take many forms. FaceBook and Twitter are probably the most visible. However, we've been addressing the use of photo's on Flickr recently. As many of us are quick to admit, photo's generate traffic. People love to look at pictures, especially of themselves, their friends and co-workers.
For a brand, adding photo's of employees and events is a good way to connect with your customers. We've been posting pictures from events over the last two months, including an employee event and a grand opening of a local branch. As you begin to share these picture, be aware of the concerns of others. These can include issues of privacy and security, or creating a negative impression of the bank for both customers and employees. Ensure you have a process in place to ensure the integrity of the photo's being displayed. Addressing these concerns up front can prevent issues later on.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Recent CU Times article on social media

I felt compelled to comment on a recent post in the Credit Union Times about the dangers of social media for financial institutions. It represents the narrow minded approach that many IT and PR/Marketing people take on the new media. It harkens back to a time when organizations could control the message and means of communication. That time is gone.
The traditional media outlets- newspapers, radio, and television are no longer the powers they once were. People are talking about your brand in a very public way-whether they are employees, customers, or just interested observers. Blogs, Tweets, and FaceBook have replaced newspaper articles, advertisements, and news releases. Don't ignore the trend, embrace the opportunity to join in the conversation. You may not always like what you hear, but you'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Getting Started

So you are thinking about getting into social media. I mean, come on, everyone is doing it, so why not us? Not so fast. Before you jump in, you reall need to figure out some things. Like, how does this fit into your business model and long term strategy? If your goal is to absolutely dominate the Certificate of Deposit market for seniors, it might not make sense to get in at all.

At 1st Mariner, our strategy is to emphasize our involvement in the local community. We have 24 branches located in and around the Baltimore region, so we are very much a part of this community. Our employees contribute many hours to local, non-profit organizations around the region. We are also focusing on the next generation of bank customers, also known as the Gen Y's. If you intend to reach and engage this audience, it is a requirement to be in these channels.

With this in mind, we went through a complete web site redesign in 2008. As part of the new "look and feel", we added a blog to our About Us section of the site. After defining the parameters of acceptable content with both our Legal and Compliance partners (an absolute necessity), we began posting financial articles and community interest stories from employees. It provides a more dynamic space for us to engage our customers directly.

As with any of this media, there are challenges. In order to keep this content fresh and timely, there should be a number of regular "contributors". We have two or three people who consistently write for the blog, but it can be challenging keeping it updated. There is nothing worse than going to a blog and finding the content is months old. Keep this in mind if you choose to start a company blog.

For those of you who are looking for a more thorough and in depth discussion of branding and the use of social media, I would suggest you check out Jeffry Pilcher of The Financial Brand . He has a presentation called Results 2.0 that addresses these very same questions. It is an excellent primer on getting started.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Some Electronic Banking History

For those of you who don't know me, perhaps it would be appropriate to give you a little background on me. First, you need to know I love technology. As mentioned earlier, I've been involved in technology work, either as a project manager or senior leader, for over 13 years. I was part of the team that built the online banking platform for NationsBank in 1996. I still have the distinction of being one of the first 15 people to have a user id in the system, which has since evolved into Bank of America's current offering. Even though I've left the bank, I've maintained accounts there to keep this id active.

It was very exciting to be working for one of the biggest banks, with some really smart people, on the premier online banking offering in the country. However, I left the bank in 2006 for a couple of reasons. First, I wanted to spend more time in my hometown and get involved in the community. Second, I was looking for an opportunity to play a greater role in the strategic direction of the ecommerce channel at a financial institution.

Online banking has proven to be a game changer. It gave customers a new, more convenient way to manage their finances. For banks, it provided a less expensive channel then the traditional branch model. However, it also created a dilemma. Between online banking, direct deposit, and ATM's, face-to-face customer contact was becoming a thing of the past. How could we talk to our customers, identify needs and provide them additional products and services when they don't even visit the branch any more?

Social media provides us with a new way to reach and have two way conversations with customers and prospects. Stay tuned.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Social Media in Banking

As a long time banker who has been involved in banking ecommerce since 1996, it has been very interesting to me to watch the evolution of the industry. We have a tendency to be followers rather than leaders where emerging technologies are concerned. The social media of today is a great example. As a senior leader at a small bank, I've been given (or taken, in some cases) the opportunity to really "play" in the social media area. With the help of my eCommerce team, we've established outlets in all the major social media "channels". It's fun, exciting, and relatively easy to get started. You just have to take the first step.

This is my first post of what, I expect will be, many more. My hope is that I can help some of the hesitant bankers out there give social media a shot. Look for more in the weeks ahead.