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Exploring a New Banking Community: Connecting with Your Customers Using Facebook Groups

Customer Engagement

Exploring a New Banking Community: Connecting with Your Customers Using Facebook Groups

Eric Cook by Eric Cook

Chief Digital Strategist

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Full biography

Eric considers himself a “recovering banker” of 15 years, who for the past eleven years has focused his efforts as a digital strategist, helping his clients (mostly community banks) better understand and leverage the power of the Internet as a strategic business tool. An award-winning web designer with WSI, the world’s largest digital agency network, Eric is a two-time contributing author to the best-selling book Digital Minds – 12 Things Every Business Needs to Know About Digital Marketing. Consistently rated in the top five digital marketing books on Amazon, the book is in its second edition and available in three languages.

A sought-after, nationally-recognized speaker in the financial services industry, Eric is a member of the National Speakers Association and loves sharing his knowledge to help educate and inspire others. He is the co-creator of a weekly webinar show called Free Webinar Wednesdays, founder of the Banker Education Series webinar series, and serves as a faculty member at several banking schools around the country where he teaches bankers about digital strategy, online marketing and social media. He is a WSI Certified LinkedIn Professional and holds undergraduate degrees in business administration and psychology. While working full-time as a community banker, Eric earned his MBA and completed the three-year Graduate School of Banking program in Madison, WI in 2003.

Professionally, Eric helps his clients in all areas of digital marketing, which includes mobile-responsive web development, search engine marketing and optimization, social media strategies, e-mail communication, and “big-picture” digital strategic planning. He’s the co-founder of DigitalRCP.com, a service created to help businesses understand their risk when it comes to operating in today’s digital world. When he’s not helping his clients succeed online, he can typically be found on one of his many bicycles training for his next mountain bike/triathlon race or spending time with his wife and two (very spoiled) golden retrievers.

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Summary:

I love hearing stories of how creative community bankers are finding unique ways to better connect with and serve their customers. And I feel even more joy when I get to share these stories with other bankers when I speak at banking schools, conferences, virtual meetings, and - like today - in blog posts just like this. 

I love hearing stories of how creative community bankers are finding unique ways to better connect with and serve their customers. And I feel even more joy when I get to share these stories with other bankers when I speak at banking schools, conferences, virtual meetings, and - like today - in blog posts just like this. 

The Inspiration: It Started with Travel Rewards Checking 

To provide some context to what I’m about to share, I was thrilled to be one of the first presenters selected for the first ever Bank Social Media conference several years ago. The event brought together Bank marketers who were early adopters to social media to share ideas with one another. I was asked to facilitate a panel discussion with industry experts on how they were taking advantage of opportunities on social networking platforms.

One of the institutions shared their story of using a private Facebook group to grow participation with their travel rewards checking program. They created this group to bring like-minded account holders together and interact with one another. The institution had been experiencing lackluster participation in their travel events (a pre-COVID perk of the account program). So, they turned to Facebook as a way to bring everyone together.  

Then something interesting happened. The account holders who participated in the latest travel excursion began posting photos of their trip to the new Facebook group. When other group members saw the fun everybody had on the trip, and their next travel events started to gain participation. It then got to the point where the trips would quickly fill up - when before they used to worry about getting enough people to participate just to cover the operational costs. 

They learned that by bringing like-minded account holders together in a Facebook group, a renewed sense of community was cultivated and they were able to facilitate many wonderful experiences for their account program members. 

Embracing Facebook Groups for Your PPP Customers

First Federal Lakewood 2020 PPP StatisticsDuring my session for the Digital Banking School with The Graduate School of Banking in Madison this year, I taught the section on how to build relationships online and connect digitally with your customers and community.  I shared with the program participants the prior Travel Club group story, as well as my personal participation in a private Facebook group for RV enthusiasts, in particular our Winnebago View. Anytime I have a question about our RV, I go to this group and am continually impressed with the community that’s available to me and all the helpful RVers willing to share their knowledge. 

Hearing these examples during my session, the folks at First Federal Lakewood had their own “lightbulb moment” to create a private group on their Facebook page to bring their PPP customers together. In an effort to offload calls to their customer relationship center and ease the burden on loan officers, this group was created as a private community where businesses who received PPP funding  could ask questions and interact with the bank and their peers in the community.

According to Valerie Kovacs, vice president and marketing director for the bank, they originated approximately 1,200 PPP loans, totaling over $105.5 million Many of these PPP loan customers were brand new to the bank, and presented an opportunity to earn even more business if these relationships could be enhanced.

When the bank announced the private Facebook group to their customers, they had roughly 100 participants in the first week and it’s steadily grown from there (now over 200). She was initially concerned that compliance issues would prevent the idea from getting off the ground. But she was pleasantly surprised when the bank's compliance and risk officer thought it was a great idea and even joined the group (which, of course, also helps in some additional  oversight on what’s being discussed, just in case)!

Just like the travel enthusiasts example from the Bank Social Media panel discussion, Valerie and her team at First Federal Lakewood brought together like-minded business owners, facilitating conversations and networking opportunities while providing a more convenient way of answering questions for the benefit of the group. What a brilliant way to bring your customers under the wing of the bank to feel protected and taken care of!

To further bring customers together, the bank recently went live via a private webinar involving the members of the PPP Facebook group. Over 120 customers joined the event and the recording of the session has been viewed over 100 times, to date. This allowed them to further connect and make themselves available for questions and sharing information about the forgiveness process and build these relationships. 

I challenge you to think about ways you’re connecting with your customers. Personal phone calls, text messages, social media chats, Zoom meetings… or even something more formal like a private group on Facebook like what First Federal Lakewood did. Whatever strategy you ultimately decide to use, building a deeper connection with your customers is a great way to solidify your long-term relationship! 

Join us Over at The LinkedBanker

If you’re interested in learning more creative and compliant-friendly ways to connect with your customers, you can hear stories like these and also build out your own strategies within The LinkedBanker coaching and mastermind community. We’ve built our own community of like-minded banking professionals to help one another and would love to have you join us. 
 

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