Launching on Facebook

Getting up and running with the most well rounded of all social media sites

By Ann Chen

In the social media world, Facebook is considered the big man on campus and an all-around workhorse communication tool. You can share links, post videos, ask questions, share news and create custom information on tabs through the site. With all of its versatility, it’s very easy to connect and engage with people in different ways.

However, considering all of this functionality, what’s the best way for your community bank to begin using Facebook? Here is a step-by-step guide to get started on Facebook today.

First, your bank must create its own Facebook page. Here are the seven simple steps to do just that:

1. Make sure you are logged in or create a new account specifically to manage your bank’s page.

2. Then click on Create a Page.

3. Select “Company, Organization or Institution.”

4. Under “Choose a Category,” click “Bank/Financial Institution.”

5. Type in your bank name in the box that says “Company Name.”

6. Click the box that says “I agree to Facebook Pages Terms.”

7. Click “Get Started.”

Congratulations! You’ve taken the very first step in establishing your bank’s page on Facebook.

Now that you have a Facebook page, the site will automatically prompt you for information to populate the page with basic background information. You’ll first be asked to upload a profile picture, the main image that people see when they visit your Facebook page. You can upload your bank’s logo or another image that represents your bank (you can easily change this photo later as needed).

Afterwards, your bank should choose to operate on Facebook officially as an organization rather than as an individual. To do this, click on the little arrow in the right-hand corner next to “Home” and click on “Use Facebook as Page.” You will see your bank’s Facebook page in the pop-up; click on the “Switch” button to access the next page.

Once you have a social media strategy in place, including goals and objectives for your bank’s Facebook page, the next step is to start posting engaging content.

Here are some ideas and tips to get started:

1. Try to include a visual element or a link to your posts. A captivating picture or link to an article is more likely to catch someone’s attention than a note by itself. Think about what you personally enjoy looking at on Facebook in your friend’s News Feeds. Then, based on that, you can come up with some ideas to catch the eyes of visitors to your bank’s Facebook page.

2. Be concise and simple. When your bank’s Facebook fans (people who elect to receive notices when your bank’s page is updated) scroll through their News Feeds about your bank, they most likely will not read a huge block of text—unless the first line really grabs their attention.

So write your Facebook page updates—called statuses—knowing that most people will likely only skim posts that contain only text. Most people will either read the message right away or never; few people will go back later to read a text status. So make it count.

3. Treat your fans like VIPs. To make your Facebook page effective, give your fans special information that isn’t easily available anywhere else. Each community bank will do this differently depending on its knowledge of its customers and audience. Some banks might provide the inside scoop on new products; others may simply post their announcements on Facebook first. Either way, providing special value to your Facebook fans is an important way to keep them engaged.

4. Pick a page name and short URL that’s unique to your bank. Make finding your bank on Facebook as easy as possible. To differentiate your bank’s Facebook page from those of other banks, make sure your bank’s logo is prominent and easily recognizable on your page.

For community banks with common names, such as First National Bank or Farmers State Bank, choosing a special page name and URL is especially important. (Note: You can only select a unique URL after you gain 25 fans.)

If your customers know your bank as First National Bank of Smith County, consider using this full name in your Facebook page name and its short URL (i.e.,

5. Be fun and unexpected. Writing posts for Facebook is very different from writing a press release. Instead of writing in a formal style, consider tweaking a post so it has a conversational and informal tone. Of course, this does not mean that it’s OK to have typos, grammatical mistakes or overall sloppy writing. However, it is fine to change “First National Bank unveils new Online Banking to Customers” to “Have you checked out our new Online Banking feature?”

Developing a Facebook writing style may take some practice. But remember that your social media messages are simply a personal communication from one person to another. So they should generally sound as if one person is talking to another across a desk or teller station.

6. Be a source of good in-formation. Many community banks also like to post personal finance tips or the latest finance news on their Facebook pages. This is another good way to be known in the online community because on Facebook, it’s all about sharing. Be sure to share good and credible links with your fans and try to gauge which links they tend to like or comment on.

Ann Chen is ICBA’s communications coordinator.