Building the Buzz

Betty Yoes, owner of the Merle Norman & More cosmetic and jewelry shop in Zachary, La.
Betty Yoes, owner of the Merle Norman & More cosmetic and jewelry shop in Zachary, La.

Go Local Wednesday is easy and fun, and it delivers a memorable message with a smile

By Beth Mattson-Teig

For Betty Yoes, Go Local Wednesday started as a fun and welcome surprise from the Bank of Zachary during the last Christmas holiday shopping rush. Now she looks forward to the event’s social media buzz—and the business it drums up for her hometown cosmetic and jewelry shop—every month.

“We got lots of comments, not only on Facebook, but from people coming in to say they saw our picture on Facebook,” says Yoes, owner of Merle Norman & More in Zachary, La. “It gave us exposure that we would not have had otherwise.”

Go Local Wednesday is an expansion of ICBA’s broader Go Local initiative that has helped community banks spread awareness about the importance of people shopping, dining and banking locally for five years running. Kicking off as part of ICBA’s 2014 Go Local for the Holidays campaign, ICBA and community bank employees, along with other consumers, were asked to post fun “selfie” pictures and comment on Twitter or Facebook when visiting a small business.

Using the #GoLocal hashtag, the campaign is a virtual, positive energy social roundup for Go Local, which takes place every third Wednesday of the month.

“Community banks always look to support their local communities in every way possible,” explains Aleis Stokes, ICBA’s senior vice president of media and public relations. “Go Local Wednesday gives them a unique opportunity to go out and evangelize that message on social media and in their broader marketing and communications efforts.”

Stokes says social media has become a tremendous communication vehicle to promote Go Local, because it easily gets the discussion about “local” going, as supporters share and rally around the initiative’s hometown pride message and themes. Social media also makes it easy for community bankers to join in and start adding their own Go Local posts or tweets to the discussion.

It is as simple as tweeting, “I’m at my favorite restaurant for #GoLocal Wednesday,” Stokes points out.

If the restaurant has a Twitter handle, be sure to mention it along with the #GoLocal hashtag, she adds. “It’s all about showcasing pride in your local community and supporting the small businesses that drive local economic vitality, no matter where you live—whether it’s an urban center, in suburbia or in rural America. Every Main Street is unique and special, and Go Local Wednesday celebrates that.”

About Go Local Wednesday

On every third Wednesday of the month, ICBA hosts Go Local Wednesday, a day where ICBA employees, community bankers and consumers nationwide shop at locally owned and operated businesses and restaurants. To show support for entrepreneurs and small businesses year round, staffers and community bankers are encouraged to share their experiences via the #GoLocal hashtag.

Those Wednesdays are good times to answer the question for your community: Why is shopping and banking locally so important? The answer, of course, is that spending at a local small business means that your money gets recycled into the same community you live in. It’s a win-win for all involved.

To check out the social campaign’s photos, and for more information, visit

Joining the #GoLocal Movement

The Go Local initiative was launched in October 2011. However, the monthly Go Local Wednesday, a new dimension of ICBA’s Go Local initiative, began this year. Since then, the program has celebrated many milestones and continues to grow in popularity and geographic reach.

Here are six ways for your community bank to successfully launch a Go Local initiative throughout your community.

  1. Issue a press release. Customize one of ICBA’s releases or write your own.
  2. Promote to customers and community. Add Go Local graphics and messaging to your bank’s communications.
  3. Submit an op-ed to a local news outlet. Make sure to adhere to the publication’s submission requirements, and follow up!
  4. Hold an event. Have a special promotion or treat (like Pendleton Community Bank’s hotdogs) available at your bank. Invite customers and local businesses to participate.
  5. Incorporate into social media. Join the online conversations through Facebook, Twitter and even Pinterest! 
  6. Get some gear. Order Go Local T-shirts, stickers, bags and more at

For localized materials and examples of any of the steps above or for more information on how to join the Go Local movement, visit

Help for customers

The Bank of Zachary has been an enthusiastic participant in Go Local, highlighting the various ways the bank supports its customers and community. So tweeting and posting pictures on Go Local Wednesday was an easy and fun way for the $200 million-asset community bank to expand its involvement in the initiative.

“We have preached this case for almost 111 years,” offers Preston Kennedy, president and CEO of the Bank of Zachary. “So, hopefully everyone here understands that we are local, and of course we want to support Go Local.”

Yoes appreciates how the Bank of Zachary has supported her retail shop for 30 years. But this past Christmas season, a busy time when she usually has her hands full managing her boutique, Yoes was thankful for the extra gift when the bank’s employees stopped by on one Go Local Wednesday to take some pictures and generate some social media buzz for her shop.

“Positive word-of-mouth is more valuable to me than any amount of paid advertising that I can do,” she says.

During the Go Local for the Holidays promotion in December, the Bank of Zachary asked its employees to go out and shop local, and get a picture of the storeowner or an item in the store to post on their personal social media page, or to send to Kennedy to post on the bank’s Twitter or Facebook page. As an added incentive, he gave $10 to every employee to spend at a local business during the holidays.

Nearly half of the bank’s 45 employees participated, and the bank ended up with about 30 different selfies that created a lot of attention for the bank and many local businesses.

For a Go Local Wednesday promotion in January, the Bank of Zachary added a $50 cash prize drawing, open to every bank employee who snapped and posted photos at a local small business. The added incentive made it just a little more fun, Kennedy says. “Bank employees do buy into the concept of the Go Local initiative. But I think it is always going to be appreciated by the employees if you provide an incentive.”

The Bank of Zachary is only one of many community banks spreading the Go Local message by posting selfies with their customers on Wednesdays.

Boosting social media

Employees at Frederick County Bank in Frederick, Md., are not only having fun participating in the Go Local initiative, they’re also generating lots of chatter on the bank’s social media accounts.

During the last Go Local for the Holidays campaign, the bank purchased $20 gift cards from the Downtown Frederick Partnership for its 75 employees. The gift cards are good at the dozens of businesses in the city’s downtown, from bookstores and clothing boutiques to coffee and teashops. The only thing the bank asked for in exchange was that its employees take a photo in the establishment and send it to the bank so it could tag the #GoLocalHolidays hashtag and the merchant in its Twitter, Facebook and Instagram posts.

“I tell you, it was fun,” says Taitia L. Elliott, senior vice president, commercial and retail banking at Frederick County Bank. “We were tagging people, and they were retweeting and favoriting it.”

But the extra bonus for the $340 million-asset community bank was how the Go Local initiative has boosted its presence on social media. The bank had just started using Twitter when it participated in Go Local for the Holidays in December. Understandably, the bank’s initial social media presence was pretty modest at the time, reflecting about 100 views here and there, Elliott says. However, by the time the bank’s Go Local for the Holidays promotion ended, the bank’s Twitter account, @FredCntyBank, had generated 2,644 views. On one recent Go Local Wednesday, two photos alone generated 1,158 views, 10 retweets and 18 favorites.

“It was a small investment of $1,500 in gift cards, but what it paid forward in the community was huge,” she says.

Now Elliott sends emails reminding Frederick County Bank’s employees about each Go Local Wednesday, which has become a familiar part of many of their work routines. She also includes a link in those emails with the #GoLocal hashtag, where bankers from all over the country are posting photos.

“Our employees are out in the community all the time, whether they are eating lunch or shopping,” she says. “So, now we are doing a better job of capturing that time and communicating it to the public.”

Beth Mattson-Teig is a freelance writer in Minnesota.