Maestros of Messaging

The 2017 Independent Banker Social Media and Marketing Leaders are shining examples of the power of effective, creative messaging.

By Carissa Hampton

The 2017 ICBA Independent Banker Social Media and Marketing Leaders are sponsored by WebbMason Marketing

For decades, community banks have reigned as leaders of relationship building (and lending). But with a range of new marketing techniques and digital channels, community banks are proving just how powerful their stories of camaraderie, friendship and trust can be when they are shared across social platforms.

The four community banks chosen for recognition in this year’s
Independent Banker Social Media and Marketing Leaders, sponsored by WebbMason Marketing, did much more than tell a story to their audiences. Instead, these banks became immersed in their communities by marrying digital communications with the relationship building ingrained in community banking.

The marketing efforts of these community banks are not only driving new business and creating powerful branding for the banks themselves; they are also inspiring other local and small businesses to experiment with new digital strategies. Themes of tight-knit communities, friendship and coming together during trying times continue to resound in community bank messaging, but our winners demonstrate that the industry is grabbing the attention of online audiences in increasingly captivating ways.

Congratulations to our 2017 Social Media and Marketing Leaders!

FNB Bank, Inc.

Mayfield, Ky.
Marketing Leader: Website Relaunch and
Partner Stories Videos

While a website relaunch might have been FNB Bank’s goal, its visual depiction of community banking, the customers served and neighbors affected goes above and beyond.

From farmers to florists to hair stylists, FNB Bank’s Partner Stories videos welcome viewers into bank customers’ lives and highlight the extraordinary impact the $454 million-asset community bank’s network has on the region. FNB’s video series illustrates the range of customers that community banks service, a task that can be difficult to depict in plain text.

“Whether it be having a trusting relationship with their lender or giving a startup company a chance to succeed, we want to highlight both sides of the relationship,” says Brooke Wiles, associate vice president and director of marketing at FNB Bank.

The video content was developed for specific pages throughout the fresh new website, but it has proved to be evergreen content that the community bank can share gradually across its social media channels.

“Partner Stories have allowed FNB to highlight our local business community,” says Wiles, “all while successfully increasing our social presence on our Facebook page.”

OneUnited Bank

Boston, Mass.
Marketing Leader: Pride Campaign

By immersing itself in a cause close to its heart, OneUnited Bank connected with its audience in a profound way.

The $661 million-asset community bank, which has branches in Boston, Miami and Los Angeles, aimed to bring awareness to the growing social and collective economic justice movements in the African-American community through live video, compelling art and fresh content. It challenged its audiences to consider their communities and local economies in a new way.

“It’s critically important to make sure that the community you serve—both locally and online—understands the causes and ideals that are of value to the bank,” says Rochelle Hinds, social media marketing manager at OneUnited Bank, which bills itself as “the nation’s largest black-owned bank.”

The social media and marketing campaigns, spearheaded by the #BankBlack and #BuyBlack hashtags, helped OneUnited grow its Facebook community by 1,227 percent.

Debuting its “Amir” debit card art, by artist Addonis Parker, in Times Square for the world to see was a highlight of the campaign, but tracking more than 1.75 million engagements will help it nurture the resulting relationships and interactions for years to come.

River Valley Bank

Wausau, Wis.
Social Media Leader: Victims Family Fund Campaign

It’s no secret that community banks are vital to their communities during times of need. Earlier this year, after a tragic event, River Valley Bank went further by using social media to drive outreach and support from neighbors, media and other businesses in the region.

When four people, including two tellers from a neighboring bank, were killed in a shooting in March 2017, River Valley Bank sprang into action, developing a plan to bring the region together in support of the victims’ families.

Throughout the 10-week social media campaign, the $1.14 billion-asset community bank used its social media channels as a platform to raise funds for victims and organize fundraising events, increasing its reach by more than 1,333 percent.

Fidelity Bank

Social Media Leader: #FidelityFam Campaign

Fidelity Bank’s commitment to “helping Louisiana small businesses grow bigger, and better than ever” is evident in its feel-good videos, which entertain while tugging on the heartstrings.

Cheers!—Justin Boswell of Wayward Owl Brewery (l) was the subject of one of Fidelity’s “Fidelity Frenzy” videos.

The videos, which feature the $781 million-asset community bank’s small-business customers, draw audience members into a world of local salons, rare-coin dealers and breweries. The stories are simple and authentic, revealing as much about the wider community as they do about Fidelity Bank’s friendly employees.
“Social media has helped to build our brand internally and externally,” says Tammy O’Shea, chief marketing officer for Fidelity Bank. “Our social media strategy is to educate, humanize our brand and showcase our commitment to the communities we serve.”

A word from our sponsor, WebbMason Marketing—an ICBA Preferred Service Provider

Innovation takes courage to fail

Why disrupting the status quo is an effective marketing strategy.
When people hear the word “innovation,” it conjures coolness: an amazing scientific breakthrough, brilliant in its simplicity, from the mind of a genius. It feels like the business synonym for “sexy”—the Silicon Valley world of deep pockets, cutting-edge products and shrewd millennials—with little place in the more traditional, risk-averse marketing departments of the banking and finance industries.

Fortunately, that’s not what innovation is.
Innovation is dustier, scrappier, tougher and slower than that. It’s the ongoing process of mistakes and lessons, incremental failures and advancements. Innovation always begins with a smart notion but has unexpected results, with important twists and turns along the way. When we assume it comes quickly and naturally, we are set up for failure and frustration.

So here’s the question: Do you have the courage to fail?

Does your institution encourage the notion that small mistakes can lead to giant successes? Think about your next company meeting: Will employees share ideas that might fix an internal issue or help your organization grow? If that happened, how would the room react?

If your boss encourages employees to be correct, if the status quo takes precedence over risk and whiteboard ideas are stifled by red tape, you’re in the majority: thinking and, perhaps, growing, but not innovating.

Innovation is a by-product of courage: Leaders and teams who aren’t afraid to fail, each time inching closer to an answer that eventually feels like an aha moment. Innovators keep pushing, because they know the right solution is out there.

Social media: What works (and what doesn’t)?

Social media can be a powerful tool for community banks—but it’s not as simple as sending out a few tweets. Our dos and don’ts will guide you.

By Carissa Hampton

If your community bank is used to advertising in traditional media like local newspapers and billboards, the fast-paced world of social media can seem a little like the Wild West. But platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter actually fit well with the community bank ethos: They allow direct contact with customers and the chance to build a community online. And just as with traditional media, there are best practices that community banks should follow when building a social presence.

DO think about where your customers are
Platforms like Instagram and Snapchat can be a great way to reach millennials and younger customers, while Facebook has the widest reach. LinkedIn is a good platform for targeting small-business customers.

Pro tip: Stick to an 80:20 ratio, with 80 percent of your posts comprised of added-value content and 20 percent made up of promotional messages.

DON’T think one size fits all
While it can be exciting to try out newer social media channels like Snapchat, make sure you’re posting tailored information, images and video for each channel’s audience, and be sure to commit to a new channel rather than dabbling in it and then letting it fade away.

DO interact with local and small-business content
To encourage engagement and attract followers, make an effort to interact with the social media accounts of your small-business customers, local leaders and nonprofits. By showing an interest in community members’ lives and work, your bank will highlight exactly what makes community banking so great: relationships.

DO spice up your posts with images
Social media posts with images, videos or even animated GIFs can attract up to five times more engagement than those with no image. And, these days, it’s easier than ever. Free and paid tools make it simple to create perfectly sized images and GIFs. My favorite tool is drag-and-drop graphic design software Canva, which offers limited capabilities for free, and enhanced options for a reasonable monthly fee.

DON’T stick to product news
Having great new products and resources to share with your customers and prospects is never a bad thing. But mixing in valuable information, articles, blog posts, quotes and community involvement opportunities will improve your engagement and make your audience more receptive to your promotional posts.

DO get the word out
Your team is busy. Consider keeping a running list of news, events, sponsorships and fresh offerings that you can share internally by email or on your bank’s intranet. Employees can then easily find things to post using their own accounts. Consider providing some context and links to make sure they have the information they need.

Pro tip: Don’t post the same exact content across every social media channel. Instead, customize your content with platform-appropriate images and words, and vary the times when posting similar content.

DON’T do it yourself
Make it easy for employees to share your bank’s content by providing pre-made posts for them to use. Want to make it even easier? Take advantage of tools like ClickToTweet, which allows you to paste your premade tweets into the tool and generate a link that will then paste the tweet directly into your colleagues’ Twitter editors. All they have to do is press “send.” No more copying and pasting.

Pro tip: GIFs and emojis are big right now. Try asking your followers to respond to a question using only emojis or a GIF.

DON’T talk at your audience
Create more engagement with questions and polls that promote conversations and sharing right in your community bank’s feed. As a bonus, you’ll get to know your customers and prospects even better than you already do!

Carissa Hampton ( is content marketing manager for ICBA.