Top 10 takeaways:

1. Social media is one of the most effective ways to humanize the brand.

Social media tweets and feeds are helping to transform bank personas from

anonymous institutions into friendly and approachable members of the community. A

small bank can gain the market awareness of a much larger institution.

2. Social media is an essential part of the marketing mix.

Most survey respondents (84%) ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ that social media is

important to the bank – up from 76% in 2016. For very little cost, banks can reach a

broad target audience that is mobile, online and socially connected.

3. Banks’ social media programs have gained a lot of maturity.

In the ABA survey, 40% of respondents said their banks had been using social media

for five years or more – up from 25% two years ago. Only 3% are shunning social


4. Banks are stepping up their social media activities.

The overwhelming majority (87%) are somewhat or very active, while only 13% are

dormant or not very active on their social media accounts – compared with 27% being

light users or absent two years ago.

5. Social media can have a big return on modest investment.

For most banks, social media represents a scant sliver of the overall marketing budget, yet it delivers big for very little. Beyond the direct effects, the social media presence can generate more local media attention for the bank, which leads to a rippling circle of mentions, interviews and free advertising.

6. Clearly defined policies and procedures are a must. So is social media training.

In the ABA survey, 68% said their bank’s use of social media was reviewed in their last

regulatory exam, with regulators looking at policies and procedures (90%), monitoring

(78%), and employee training (44%). Having a tool and specific, well-thought-out

procedures on the use of social media can help address potential regulatory concerns.

7. Many banks aren’t tapping all the potential of social media.

A surprising number of respondents in the ABA study said their banks did not currently use (or had no plans to use) social media for monitoring customer complaints (24%), recruiting (26%) or providing customer service (29%) – areas where other banks are seeing some strong successes.

8. Engaging employees as brand ambassadors amplifies the voice.

Employees can be your best brand ambassadors. The risks of expanding employee

advocacy can be mitigated by providing preapproved content, strong policies/

procedures and social media training.

9. Content is king. Continuously generating fresh content can be difficult for some community banks. Keep it simple with checklists, how-to videos and tool kits that have value for retail and commercial customers, especially around themes such as Financial Literacy month (April), Home Ownership month (June) and Cybersecurity Month (October).

10. Consider automating for editorial control and compliance.

In our survey, 59% of respondents said their banks were using third-party software or

technology to monitor or manage social media content or compliance. It then becomes efficient to maintain a library of approved content, set an editorial calendar and cadence, engage employees on social, archive activity and track response time – and do it at scale, in a well-orchestrated way.

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