The Importance of Social Media Marketing for Community Banks

How active is your community bank on social media? If you think Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and other channels are just for posting vacation photos and keeping up with relatives in other states, think again. Social media changed the landscape for almost every business. It provides unique marketing opportunities for financial institutions. Sometimes decision makers worry […]

Written By Matthew Martin

March 21, 2019

How active is your community bank on social media? If you think Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and other channels are just for posting vacation photos and keeping up with relatives in other states, think again. Social media changed the landscape for almost every business. It provides unique marketing opportunities for financial institutions.

Sometimes decision makers worry social media marketing could cause governance concerns. However, those can be easily resolved with software that helps monitor and manage both content and compliance. Make your posting about community engagement, financial education and contests, then social media isn’t about business. It’s about being social.

Your potential customers are looking for you on social media. They make snap judgments based on what they see. Your community bank can use social media to let them know they can trust you with your money, but also that you’re invested in the community and interested in their concerns.

Show You’re Human

People see banks as cold and impersonal. They have large, imposing structures. They seem intimidating, full of rules and red tape. Interaction seems like a necessary evil, not something you look forward to.

Social media gives community banks a chance to change that perception. Instead, they can show people they’re warm and human. Use posts and video to show customers you’re approachable community members. Make them feel like they’re talking to friends, not distant, disapproving entities in suits.

With the right content and social media management strategy, banks can show they care. Educate and inform community members on how to better manage their money. Entertain with events. Celebrate company milestones and employee achievements. When you do you build social capital.

Connect With More Customers

Social media allows you to connect with an unlimited audience. Sometimes we hear banks say if they don’t create a social media account or engage in social media marketing, interested customers will just go to their website. They feel more comfortable just participating in the parts of their online presence they can control.

It’s incorrect to think if you don’t participate in the conversation, it doesn’t take place. People are looking for you and talking about you on social media whether you’re active there or not.

A 2018 Global Digital suite of reports found there are 4.021 billion people around the world using the internet. Of those, 3.196 billion use social media. Social media use is up 13 percent from the year before. Statista ranks social networks by number of active users. They published these numbers as of 2019.

  • Facebook – 2.27 billion
  • YouTube – 1.9 billion
  • Instagram – 1 billion
  • Twitter – 326 million
  • Snapchat – 287 million
  • Pinterest – 250 million

More consumers look for information online than ever before. Many of them use their phones, especially when they’re making buying decisions. Social media allows you to connect with them, but banks aren’t taking full advantage.

In The State of Social Media in Banking, the American Bankers Association polled more than 800 banks. Three out of four agreed social media was important, but not all of them were active. Only 34 percent described their bank as “very active.” In contrast, 39 percent said they were “somewhat active.” Another 14 percent said they were “not very active” and 13 percent were “not active at all.”

If you don’t already have a social media management strategy that connects you with your target audience, why not start now?

Engage With Your Community

People choose community banks because they want to feel comfortable and at home. They want to bank somewhere people care about them and help them meet financial goals. When they need a home or a car loan, they don’t want to feel like they’re talking to strangers. They don’t want to navigate confusing phone menus or experience restrictions when they need to access their money.

Your bank probably already does things to engage with the community. Maybe you sponsor school sporting events or run a charity drive at Christmas. If your bank partners with a nonprofit or participates in community outreach, you make a difference.

Social media management done right showcases community involvement. When people see you rolling up your sleeves and working shoulder to shoulder with them, they know you care.

Increase Interactions

People just go to the bank when they need to deposit a check, make a withdrawal or apply for a loan. Many of them do their banking online, so they rarely need to go in person. When their interaction is with an app, it’s even harder for them to see your community bank as caring, approachable, trustworthy and involved.

Social media marketing puts them in contact with your brand in a positive way. They see your posts and can choose to interact with you much more frequently.

Deepen Customer Relationships

A robust social media presence doesn’t just reach new customers. It brings you closer to the ones you already have.

When you provide educational or informative information on social media, people realize you’re not just about making money. You’re also interested in helping them grow their own wealth. When you show your community spirit, they recognize bank employees are their friends and neighbors.

Social media provides customers with a place to leave feedback. That makes businesses and financial institutions nervous, but it’s actually a good thing. Positive feedback is like a word of mouth referral that’s extremely valuable.

Even negative feedback can be a good thing. It helps you get inside the mind of consumers and see things through their eyes. If your bank could have done something better, negative feedback lets you know. You have a chance to make things right.

Sometimes decision makers fear that angry customer who rants on social media. He or she might say things that aren’t true or refuse to be placated. If you’re active on social media, sooner or later it’s going to happen. That, too, is an opportunity. You have the chance to show grace under pressure. When other people read the exchange, they can see you treat all people with dignity and integrity.

It’s great to be able to reach thousands of new individuals. It’s just as powerful to have a handful of meaningful conversations on a regular basis.

Recruit Top Employees

The ABA report found only 56 percent of the banks they surveyed used social media for recruiting. Qualified job candidates are out there, and they’re using social media to decide where they want to apply.

They look at social media to see if your company culture is warm and inviting. They want to know if your community bank’s values align with their own. Also, they’re interested in working somewhere they can help make a difference. Your community involvement shows they’ll be able to do that.

Give Current Employees a Voice

With the right amount of training and a content preapproval process, you can include select employees in your social media management. When you do, it’s another way to show your community the human side of your financial institution.

Gather Valuable Data

Most banks invest in newspaper, radio, billboard and print advertising. It’s hard to tell who looks at your ad and how they respond to it. With online interactions, you have data that gives you powerful insights.

You see who is viewing your posts and which ones they react to. Receive information on user age, income level, geographic location and other data. Find out when they’re active online so you can time your posts accordingly. Analyze the posts that drive the most engagement and create more like them.

Community banks have a lot to gain from social media marketing. Many shy away from working with a digital marketing agency because they’re understandably concerned about regulatory issues. Spade Design has experience working with banks to reach existing and prospective customers while maintaining compliance with industry regulations. Why not find out what social media marketing could do for your community bank when you get in touch today.


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