Paducah Bank featured in ICBA magazine.

The Social Media Mix

Effectively blending social media into traditional marketing campaigns

By Kelly Pike

Your community bank probably has internal rules for dealing with social media. Content is run past compliance, employees follow a social media policy, and you obey all of Facebook’s content guidelines. But if you’re not integrating your community bank’s online social activities with its traditional marketing tools, you may be wasting your efforts.

And it is not just about how many fans you have on Facebook. A successful social media presence will complement a bank’s overall marketing strategy, helping to consistently deliver its marketing message and reinforce its brand. Paducah Bank in Paducah, KY, understands that connection. For the past 10 years, the $530 million-asset community bank has put out a 68-page magazine twice a year dedicated to the bank and its many community events. It’s a big investment—one that involves inserting the publication in the regional Sunday paper, mailing it to customers and distributing it throughout the area. That’s in addition to its regular newspaper and TV advertising, website and in-bank promotions.

Know Your Audience

Free social media tracking tool available:

ICBA and NACHA, the not-for-profit payments association, are working together to provide community banks free access to a premier social media-monitoring solution, ICBA Social Media Monitor.

NACHA has been selected as the new sponsor of ICBA Social Media Monitor, the first and only social media-tracking solution created exclusively for community banks. The social media tool allows ICBA member banks to monitor what is being said about their bank, their brand and their products and services over a wide range of social media platforms.

Specifically, ICBA Social Media Monitoring searches millions of tweets, Facebook posts, blogs and hundreds of other social networks for any mention of a participating community bank’s brand, its staff or its competitors. Additionally, the monitoring tool allows ICBA members to receive a daily email alert that aggregates such mentions about their community bank. Visit the ICBA Social Media Monitor online for more information or to register.

Today, Facebook and Twitter also are part of the magazine’s distribution plan. When a new issue of the magazine comes out, Paducah Bank changes its Facebook cover photo—the main image you see on its page—to a promotion for the magazine, urging people to pick up a copy. The bank’s Facebook page and Twitter account provide links to the magazine and its articles. And knowing that its online fans love photos and human-interest stories, the bank emphasizes the people-centric nature of the magazine.

For the most recent issue, Paducah Bank posted a photo of the magazine’s adorable cover boy holding a picture of the magazine cover with his image. It had 11 “Likes” in less than 24 hours. “We see it as another important way to communicate with customers,” says Susan Guess, the bank’s marketing director. “You can’t rely on one medium to reach the customer base or those who may become customers.”

Facebook’s interactive nature dovetails well with Paducah Bank’s existing approach to marketing, which is to emphasize the bank and its employees as friends and neighbors. For years, the community bank has held summer cookouts and sent its free ice cream truck—dubbed the “Wow Wagon”—out into the community to garner goodwill. Now, the bank uses Facebook and Twitter to advertise the location of the wagon and promote its cookouts. Unlike a sign in the lobby or a newspaper ad, the posts serve as timely reminders that people can share with others, encouraging attendance.

“We want it to be a fun, engaging and energizing way to interact with the customers and validate the reason they selected Paducah Bank—the only remaining locally owned bank,” says Guess of its activities.

Inside information

At First United Bank and Trust in Madisonville, KY, Facebook is the premier place to debut all new marketing campaigns, from contests and community events to the announcement of new mobile banking services.

“We make sure our Facebook friends are the first to know things,” says Jayne Barton, vice president of marketing and public relations at the $210 million-asset community bank, which sees social media as a relationship builder. “It makes people feel special so they’ll want to be part of the group.”

In the lead up to 4thFest, an Independence Day event sponsored by the bank and other local organizations, First United Bank and Trust supplemented its newspaper, television, radio and website advertising by holding free T-shirt giveaways on its Facebook page and posting the entry form to a Let Freedom Sing vocal talent contest. Afterwards, the community bank posted pictures of the events.

Photos are popular with people, as the success of Paducah Bank’s magazine makes clear. Sharing photos on social media sites give community banks even greater mileage from events, especially when a bank is savvy about including its logo in the background of pictures. As people “tag,” or identify, others in photos and share them with friends and family, a bank’s brand gains positive exposure and reinforces a its friendly identity, Guess says. And unlike a magazine with limited space, social media channels allow the bank to post as many photos as it wants.

While social media is a good way to distribute existing TV, print and radio ads, the photos and comments collected on sites like Twitter and Facebook can actually help generate content for traditional media campaigns, community bankers say. For example, First United Bank and Trust made a 30-second TV commercial with a montage of the positive comments it received online set to music.

Paducah Bank used Facebook to help promote a video contest for high school students about why they love the bank. The winner became a 30-second TV ad.

Love to like

In Richmond, Va., Union First Market Bank successfully integrated a multimedia campaign called “You & Union.” The campaign was largely influenced by the visual vocabulary of social channels, says Dorothea Henry, social media experience manager at the $4 billion-asset community bank.

The campaign centered on the tagline “Is it so wrong to love a bank?” Print ads and multimedia videos were built around Internet-style icons representing options for where, when and how customers can conduct their banking business. As with any good marketing campaign, employee involvement was critical.

To keep the campaign interactive, retail employees used the campaign theme to decorate Union First Market Bank’s branches. Photos of their decorations were posted online so customers could vote for their favorite branch. While online, many customers also praised their local branch and the people who work there and shared the photos with friends. Employees were invited to promote their branch, which kept the You & Union campaign a part of many conversations both online and offline. As a result, the bank’s Facebook fan base increased nearly 20 percent in just a week.

In McKinney, Texas, Independent Bank found similar success with February’s “Like the Bank You Love” contest. The bank posted creative photos of each of its branches on Facebook and asked customers to “Like” their favorite branch to be entered to win an iPad2. Employees spread word of the contest, and many decorated their respective branches to inspire customers to log on and vote. Promotional signs and entry forms for those who weren’t on Facebook were placed on counters.

As a result of the contest, Independent Bank doubled its Facebook Likes to 1,469 and saw 1,900 supportive comments and Likes, says Matthew Kennedy, the bank’s marketing coordinator. While the number of Likes is an easy measure, what’s really important is informing and connecting with customers and potential customers, he says. That means not every campaign a bank creates will be appropriate for social media.

“People don’t usually go on Facebook because they want to be sold with ads,” says Kennedy. “Our main tenets are to create, inform, connect, promote and grow.” As part of that goal, Independent Bank aims to limit product promotions to about 10 percent of its social media content. The other 90 percent consists of service projects, community news and events, trivia, contests and bank updates consistent with the brand.

Integrated Social Media Marketing

No bank should simply slap the Facebook logo on its print ads and post its traditional ads on Facebook or Twitter and call those efforts integrated social media marketing. Here’s some practical advice on combining the two from Dorothea Henry, social media experience manager at $4 billion-asset Union First Market Bank in Richmond, VA.

View your print collateral through a digital lens.Customers may end up seeing your community bank’s ad on an electronic or mobile device. Make sure it has a concise, easy-to-read message, and include the appropriate hyperlinks.

Not every print ad is appropriate for social media. Some products and services trigger specific compliance disclosures, some of which are too long to fit within the constraints of Twitter or other social media sites.

Use the right voice for the right channel. Know who your audience is so the right message goes to the right audience.

Manage the expectations of each channel differently. You may invest a lot of money into a traditional marketing campaign and a lot of time into the social channel. Both will yield different results.

Many community banks choose not to actively promote specific products and services on social media, though some find ways to make it work. Union First Market Bank has promoted specials on home equity lines of credit by showing a photo of a customer’s renovated kitchen instead of specifically mentioning rates—avoiding triggering compliance disclosures.

It’s also given social media fans a sneak peak at new online banking capabilities, highlighted a new online chat for customer service and promoted a design-your-own debit card.

Paducah Bank has reminded people of its mortgage offerings by showing a photo of first-time homebuyers. Instead of a heavy-handed sales pitch, it’s often this type of warm and fuzzy message that gets a lot of Likes and fits best with social media, Guess says.

Of course, coordination between traditional marketing and social media doesn’t just happen automatically; it requires planning. That means whoever is in charge of social media needs to communicate frequently with the marketing department, branch managers and anyone else hosting an event.

At Independent Bank, Kennedy works within the three-person marketing department to plan all online postings in two-week installments. Henry, of Union First Market Bank, a member of the bank’s customer experience department, frequently collaborates with the marketing department.

In the end, though, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a one-man operation or a large-scale effort. The success of a community bank’s social media activities comes down to how effectively it supports the bank’s overall marketing goals and brand.

That’s a message everyone will like.

Kelly Pike is a financial writer in Annandale, Va.