An ICBA Influencer

Community banker Jesse Torres takes to Twitter to educate Angelenos about our industry

Looking for insights on effectively communicating through social media, ICBA Independent Banker sat down with Jesse Torres, president and CEO of Pan American Bank in Los Angeles and a top industry influencer on Twitter.

Q: What motivated Pan American Bank to start using Twitter?

Torres: In 2009, we were about two years into this whole economic mess. All banks were being painted by the same brush. In our case, we were not involved in any subprime lending or other types of activity that put the banking industry, or our customers, at risk. We felt that we could use Twitter, as well as other social media platforms, to tell our story and personalize our institution.

Q: Has that goal changed at all since then?

Torres: We have continued down that road. We rarely use Twitter to sell products. We use it almost entirely to tell our story in terms of what’s going on in the community that we serve and what’s going on in the bank.

Q: What are some of your favorite things to tweet about?

Torres: We love to tweet about our customers, such as a business that is opening a new store or having a special event. We tweet about community events. We also use it to toot our own horn. If we are featured in a television or newspaper article, we will tweet about it with a link to the website.

Q: How often do you tweet?

Torres: I try to keep it to once daily, because we don’t like to overwhelm our followers. We also don’t put anything out there unless we think it is meaningful content.

Q: Are you solely responsible for tweeting at your bank?

Torres: Yes. One of the reasons for that is that I want to control the messaging so that people really look at what we send out.

Q: Do you have any tips to manage a Twitter account?

Torres: Make sure to tweet out a tone and language that is consistent with how the institution wants to sound. Some organizations want to be very conservative, while other organizations want to be more casual.

Q: How do you manage compliance risk?

Torres: That is one reason why I do it. It is important that whoever is doing it has a good understanding of the compliance requirements. Because we don’t tweet out a lot of sales information, it makes it easier. But, if you are putting out sales information, you need to make sure you are not using triggering terms or information that is misleading.

Q: What value does your bank get from using Twitter?

Torres: People nowadays have many preferred methods of communication. Some people don’t use email anymore. They use live chats or platforms within social media for messaging. So, if you are an organization that relies entirely on email, you’re missing an opportunity to connect with a significant portion of your customer base.

Q: Is there a particular tweet that generated a large response with your customer base?

Torres: What usually resonates the most is our tweets that relate to our outreach with youth. We have a number of programs where we target youth, such as youth savings programs or workshops.

Q: What advice do you have for community bankers interested in tweeting?

Torres: First and foremost, know what you want to do with it, such as marketing or community building. If you don’t have a clear idea, you’re going to stumble. Know what the risks are, and make sure that your board understands those risks.

Once you know that, experiment and have fun with it.