Bankers are busy trying to dance, shake and educate their way into consumers' hearts and wallets.
Some community banks have taken to posting videos to their websites and creating YouTube channels as part of their overall social media strategy. More financial institutions are using social media, including Facebook (FB), Twitter (TWTR) and YouTube, to interact with customers and promote their brands. However, bankers are often stymied by what they should actually say or do in new-media campaigns.
"The scary thing is you create these social media accounts and then the question is what should we talk about?" says Bryan Fonville, marketing director at Central National Bank in Waco, Texas. "The natural tendency is to be self-promoting, but that's the last thing we want to do."
If consumers wanted to see another commercial, they would simply turn on the television, says Stewart Rose, president and chief executive of Truebridge, which provides marketing services to financial institutions. To avoid this trap, banks need to have a clearly defined plan for their video content.
"Banks are looking at 'how do we capture more customers?'" says Nichole Kelly, president of SME Digital, the digital marketing division of Social Media Explorer. "But they aren't saying in order to capture more revenue we need an audience that is captive and engaged and that will respond when we do put that offer out in front of them."
The following are three tips from bankers and industry experts on how to effectively use YouTube.
1) Shoot for a 'Holy Smokes' Reaction
Before posting a video series, community banks need to consider the purpose of the content and what audiences will get out of the video, industry experts say. Though this may seem basic, launching videos without a plan is one of the most common mistakes, experts say.
This right approach includes thinking through "how do we connect the video to increasing revenue to justify the investment," Kelly says.
Banks need to "define the holy smokes factor for their video," Kelly adds. "You have to think about when someone watches this I want them to say 'Holy smokes' that is" funny, crazy or cool.
Additionally, the campaign should align with the bank's broader strategic goals, industry experts say. For example, if a bank is trying to expand its auto loan portfolio then the video content should support this goal, says Ben Rogers, research director at Filene Research Institute, a think tank focused on the consumer finance industry.
"There are too many social media marketers that don't stop to think about the strategic issues of the institution," Rogers says. "They see social media as exciting and new, and then use those without tying it into the institutions' goals."
Central National has created a series of amusing videos, including one posted last month that makes fun of President's Day. (The video calls President's Day the "Columbus Day of the spring" and notes "what better way to honor the service of our nation's presidents then to hold special sales for electronics, mattresses and clothing.") This content supports the $693 million-asset company's slogan of "Bank Different."
"Our videos embody who we are and are a representation of our branding campaign," Fonville says. But really bankers should "be yourself. You don't have to put on some sort of a facade on social media. People want to see the human side of your brand."
2) Educate Your Audience, Don't Peddle Product
Too often bankers fall into the trap of simply talking about themselves or their products on YouTube. This is a mistake and a missed opportunity, industry experts say. Instead, bankers need to offer themselves as a resource. People often research online before a life event, like buying a home, and banks can position themselves as an expert by providing tips on making these financial decisions, Rogers says.
"YouTube isn't the place to sell product," Rose says. "It's a place to build relationships. People don't want to be hit with another ad for a checking account or a [certificate of deposit]. They get enough of that anyway."
Providing educational content, rather than videos that play more like a traditional commercial, are also more likely to be shared with others, says Lori Aitkenhead, digital marketing manager for Paveya, an Internet marketing company. Sharing is what makes social media a powerful medium, experts say.
"If as you are providing tips, you can talk about a particular service that you offer that can help," Aitkenhead says. "But that shouldn't be the main focus. If customers are going to YouTube, they aren't going to there to see something specific about your auto loans."
Earlier this year Guaranty Bond Bank in Mount Pleasant, Texas, released a video that demonstrated for customers how to make deposits using their smartphones. The video has been its "most successful," says Gene Erwin, senior vice president of retail banking at the $1.2 billion-asset bank.
"How the bank speaks with customers is changing," Erwin says. "In the past, banks would do mass mailouts and print ads in newspaper and magazines. But that is extremely costly and not as effective anymore. We are really investing our energy and time to the online space."
3) Have Fun with It
Finally banks shouldn't be afraid to let their fun side shine through on their videos, industry experts say. It's "good to have a mix of content" that includes both educational and entertaining videos, Aitkenhead says. Videos that are more entertaining are usually shared more often and reach a wider audience.
"It's along the lines of a Super Bowl ad that is supposed to be funny and catchy and gets people talking," Aitkenhead adds.
Entertaining videos can help the bank build brand awareness and support a broader marketing campaign, experts say. For example, Central National's President's Day video has gotten more than 13,000 views on YouTube. On Facebook, the video drew dozens of comments including ones like this: "So flippin awesome!!! I am seriously considering switching a 16-year patronage with a different bank over to you guys simply because I LOVE the sarcasm!!"
Guaranty has not only posted videos to help customers with remote deposit capture and using its ATMs, it also filmed its employees dressed in silly costumes dancing to the song "Harlem Shake." The video was meant to show prospective employees that "it's a fun and creative environment and to customers that the bank has a sense of humor," says Jeremy Thomas, administrative officer at Guaranty.
Besides Central National's President's Day video, the bank has posted other humorous content, including one that reviewed its New Year's resolutions, such as creating a drone program for remote deposits. (A bank executive quips in the video, "Hey Amazon, what took you so long?" referencing the news that the online retailer is developing a drone-based delivery service.)
Still mixed in with the humor, Central National has posted a video explaining to customers how to delete cookies and cache from their web browsers, though the tips are still provided with the bank's particular brand of pizazz. More educational content is likely to be added.
"We may come to work in suits and ties but that doesn't mean we don't have personalities," Fonville says. "Everything we do we want to have some element of personality to it so it's not just robotic."