A social media call to arms for New Hampshire banks

by Lani & Allen

In case you didn’t know (and folks are often surprised to learn this), I used to be an internal auditor for two different banks, prior to leaving Corporate America and co-founding Epiphanies, Inc. with wife and biz partner Lani.

bankAs odd as it might sound to the average person, I have a fondness for banks, and particularly the small local banks. I started out at the former Washington Mutual, moved to a $4 billion commercial bank, and much preferred the experience in the local bank environment. We were more connected to the community, and we were all pulling together in ways that WaMu never was or did.

Fast-forward to today, with our own company’s focus on helping entrepreneurs, global brands, and mission-driven organizations use social media platforms to ramp up their visibility, competitive edge, community, and results. Let me be perfectly frank: I would love to work with a state-chartered New Hampshire bank to help them grow their customer base, assets, and loan portfolio with social media.

Why is it so important for banks (to say nothing of other businesses) to build their social media presence? Because that’s where the audience is going. The esteemed Forrester Research predicts that by 2012 at the latest, traditional web-centric customer relationship management will be dead, replaced by customer-centric social relationship management. Facebook just reached 350 million users, about 100 million of them here in the US. This platform is simply too big for ANY business to ignore.

For NH banks, here’s the challenge: Franklin Savings Bank has a six-month lead on just about EVERYONE in the state. In the social media world, six months is huge. Of the top ten NH banks by assets (according to the New Hampshire Business Review‘s 2009 Book of Lists), FSB is the only bank with a Facebook presence.

And just so we’re clear on who we’re talking about, the other nine are:

  • Ocean Bank
  • Laconia Savings Bank
  • Northway Bank
  • Merrimack County Savings Bank
  • Meredith Village Savings Bank
  • Bank of New England
  • Centrix Bank & Trust
  • Woodsville Guaranty Savings Bank
  • Claremont Savings Bank

Below them on the asset list, Hampshire First Bank, at #17, has been on for about a year and has definitely ramped up their activity in the past few months. The Nashua Bank (#18) has a closed Facebook Group – but under the “Admins” header, it says there are no administrators left in the group. Hmmm.

fsbfacebookadHow’s Facebook working for FSB? Well enough that they’re now putting up billboards like these. I’ve seen two of them so far, and I’d bet they’re not the only ones. I don’t know a heck of a lot about billboard marketing, but I’d guess these cost in the five figures, at least, for placement and production. Nobody spends that much on a marketing tactic these days – especially not a bank – unless it’s getting them some serious results.

Other NH banks can do it too – and gain a HUGE advantage over nationwide chain banks like Citizens Bank, TD Bank, Sovereign Bank, and Bank of America. Because their national corporate-level offices have to control the messaging coming out of their companies, their local branches can’t interact with local clients on Facebook in the same way state chartered banks can.

You catch that? Big banks are simply unable to build the same kinds of relationships on Facebook that little banks can. Specifically, the kinds of relationships that ultimately drive business growth!

We have space to add a couple of clients in 2010, and I’ll tell you right now, I sincerely want one of them to be a bank. Specifically, one New Hampshire bank.

So….who’s it gonna be?

–Allen (603-524-5248)

P.S. A few links to useful resources on social media for the banking industry:

Interviews 2.0 on Visible Banking

Business Banking Leaders Pioneer Social Media

Social Media, User-generated Content and Liability

Social Media: Year of Crisis Converts Small Bank Skeptics (American Banker subscription required)

5 Ways Banks Are Using Social Media

  • http://xeesm.com/AxelS Axel Schultze

    Interesting proposition. I trust a big bank could easily be as agile as a small bank (who said that elephants can’t dance) but I guess you are right they just won’t any soon. Looking for Bank of America on Facebook and all you see is a flood of negative posts and comments. Maybe that is the biggest opportunities of a smaller local bank – to take the market and rise – to …. a new big bank :-) But that’s great. This is what leaders have to do.

    Social Relationship Management is probably the best starting point as a bank doesn’t necessarily want to build a fancy social media presence – yet be in touch with customers and the market. SRM done right may lead to more fancy stuff in the future – or not. The key is – “being in touch” and having a social attitude.

    Axel
    http://xeesm.com/AxelS
    (my social map)

  • http://socialmediab2b.com Kipp Bodnar

    Thanks for mentioning Social Media B2B as a resource. I enjoyed you posts. You are right in reminding banks that those that act first on the web have a valuable first mover advantage.

  • http://www.lonscohen.com/blog Lon S. Cohen

    Hi, Great post. I’m happy that you found my articles useful in your list of resources. I wrote both “Social Media: Year of Crisis Converts Small Bank Skeptics” for American Banker and the Mashable article, “5 Ways Banks Are Using Social Media”

  • http://www.epiphaniesinc.com Content Lover

    Thanks, Lon. It’s been an eye-opening experience talking to banking folks since I wrote that and started addressing the subject in speaking engagements. There’s a garden-variety resistance to social media, and then there’s the layering of regulatory concerns as a way to put off or slow down the leap. Not only are they afraid of being bad-mouthed, they’re afraid of getting their knuckles rapped. Tough crowd!

  • http://www.lonscohen.com/blog Lon S. Cohen

    Yes. Considering the recent history of banks, it’s no wonder they’re gun shy about something brand new. But I try to make a case whenever possible to the benefits of social media in engendering trust and transparency, especially for community banks.

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