Social is No Longer Optional

It used to be that having social media as part of your marketing strategy was optional. In those days, blogs debated the existence of social ROI, and experts questioned which networks would survive in the battle for users. Those days are over.

Consumers expect brands to not only have a universal presence on social media, but also to provide service through these networks. Customer conversations are happening on social whether you’re there or not. Megabanks know this and it’s reflected in the millions of dollars they dedicate to supporting these channels. That’s not a luxury most of us have.

So, how can community institutions stay competitive?

If you’ve spent 10 minutes on Twitter, you know that it is more than a “micro-blogging” site – it is a stream of conscience attempt to connect. People announce the mundane moments of their life (like what they had for breakfast), celebrate every minor victory, and vent on every trivial frustration. What’s more,because this is a public setting, they are begging brands like yours to engage.

Despite the massive resources available, megabanks are literally too large to engage consistently on a personal level. The big-brand banks simply cannot keep up with the volume of these thoughts. Catching every mention, monitoring millions of people across dozens of streams, and then authentically engaging and listening with the consumer – it’s too large a task. So they automate, outsource, and systematize. It’s the stereotypical experience of being an account holder at a megabank.

Insert evil laugh here. Because here’s where you turn the tables.

People don’t want to be another number. They don’t like impersonal treatment in-branch, and they certainly don’t want that on their social networks. They want to feel seen and heard. Community institutions like yours have always been able to deliver this superior service. It’s the edge that has won consumers considering switching for years. Even better, you don’t need the massive resources of megabanks to leverage that advantage. You just need to be present and listening.

Tweet, and the world tweets with you. Bot, and you bot alone.

Here’s a great example of the difference between personal-service replies versus automated responses. Recently, we found a Twitter user called Jenn venting about service she received at a megabank. (We’ve blocked their name to protect the “innocent.”) The megabank’s social monitoring software caught the mention, and shot off an automatic reply. Jenn was less than impressed.

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We jumped in and pointed out the obvious.

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Jenn appreciated us leveling with her, and it turns out that she had considered switching her accounts.

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Frank, a customer and fan of the local credit union, saw the mention and chimed in saying how much he loved them.

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Then the credit union joined the conversation and thanked Frank.

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How does the story end? She switched.

Opportunities like this don’t happen every day, but in order to seize them, you must have an active presence.


Is your institution active on social media? What’s a challenge you face in making social work for you? Let us know in the comment section.


Andrew Swinney
Andrew Swinney


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