Best Practices: Using Facebook as a Bank Marketing Channel

Facebook has become one of the de facto channels for organizations seeking to make, or reinforce, a connection to their audience – it almost feels like “everyone who’s anyone” is there. But (and perhaps not surprisingly) banks haven’t been as quick to sign in.

We recently conducted some research (on a client’s behalf) to better understand which major banking players are incorporating Facebook into their marketing/PR/CRM strategies, and what we can learn from them. We audited twelve banks, ranging in size from national players (Chase, Bank of America), to community banks (Umpqua, M&T) to a non-traditional bank (Charles Schwab). Of those twelve banks, eight have at least one corporate-sponsored or corporate-owned Facebook page. We did not count community pages in our research.

Here’s what we found:

    1. Know why you are on Facebook

It’s not useful – to a brand or to its customers – to “be there” without saying something worth listening to or providing a service. Banks that have created a Facebook page without taking a hard look at the “why” behind it often end up with Facebook pages that languish with little engagement and fewer fans. Facebook may not be the best social media channel for CRM – Twitter has proven itself to be very useful for managing customer questions, so spend time thinking about why a Facebook page is important to those you want to reach. PNC Bank is not helping itself or its target audience by having a Facebook page with no content.

    1. Develop a content strategy

What kinds of ideas do we want to share, and what type of information motivates our audience to take the action step that we want them to take?  Chase’s Facebook page is a good example of a content strategy that has motivated 2.5 million people to take part in its charitable works. Chase uses Facebook to promote its Chase Community Giving campaign, where Facebook users can vote on which charities should receive funding from Chase and raise money for organizations they believe in.

    1. Provide Education, Tools & Guidance

Banks have also found success on Facebook by creating content strategies that provide consumer education tips/tools. SunTrust created the Live Solid Facebook page to promote its “Live Solid” concept – the belief that when your priorities are straight and your finances are in order, life is freer and more gratifying. The Live Solid Facebook page is a mix of personal finance information/tips/tools and charitable giving.  The page generates a good amount of dialogue. The Live Solid page has more than 15,000 “likes,” while SunTrust’s corporate page has 2,050 “likes.”

Charles Schwab recently created a second Facebook page for its Schwab “MoneyWise” campaign. Schwab MoneyWise is an extension of its website and offers “tips and tools that demystify the ABCs of personal finance.”

    1. Create a game plan for when/if it goes horribly wrong

Bear in mind that empowered people are also empowered “complainers.” Should you choose to create a dialogue with Facebook users (which some successful pages don’t – e.g. Charles Schwab) be prepared to answer some tough questions.

Huntington National Bank’s Facebook page (a corporate page about the bank with about 375 “likes”) is a good example of this. When a customer offers criticism or asks a question on the page a representative quickly answers. If it involves an account or a transaction, the representative provides options for taking the conversation “offline.”

    1. Keep it Fresh

Creating the page is only half the battle. Banks (and any other organizations using Facebook) that have achieved success have done so by continually engaging with their Friends and those who “like” their page. Posting fresh content on the Facebook wall regularly – at least every other day – and responding to wall posts is critical.

What did we miss? Are there best practices that you’ve adopted? We’d love to hear them.

To reach Meghan:

Phone:   212.840.1661
Twitter: @meghanlantier
LinkedIn: Meghan Lantier