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.

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