FNB Community Bank is conquering TikTok

FNB Community Bank marketing manager and assistant vice president Julie Waddle

FNB Community Bank, represented on social media by Julie Waddle, has reached millions of people via TikTok, Instagram and other platforms. Photo by Mary Clancy

FNB Community Bank’s investment in social media has paid off. Marketing manager and assistant vice president Julie Waddle has excelled at making fun and informative videos that engage the bank’s customers and occasionally reach a viral audience of millions.

By Eric Best


Name:
FNB Community Bank

Assets:
$570 million

Location:
Midwest City, Okla.

TikTok has become a haven for videos of teens doing the latest dance challenges, overnight celebrities lip-syncing to viral sound clips and even some community bankers.

One community bank that has made an early and particularly successful foray into short-form videos is FNB Community Bank in Midwest City, Okla. The face of the $570 million-asset community bank is Julie Waddle, assistant vice president and marketing manager, a digital-savvy millennial who grew up sharing similarly quick and funny content on Vine, the defunct precursor to TikTok.

“[Using TikTok] brings awareness and different eyes to our name that would not have seen us before, so to me, I highly value that.”
—Julie Waddle, FNB Community Bank

These days, she applies that personal experience by making videos about financial advice, the community bank’s high-quality customer service and even its ugly Christmas sweater contest.

“I’ve been doing Facebook Live [videos], and so people are used to kind of seeing me with the brand,” Waddle says. “It was only natural to start making a lot of the videos myself, and it’s the easiest thing to do when I’m just sitting at my desk and I see a funny idea.”

These recordings for TikTok and Instagram Reels, a TikTok competitor with the same short-form videos of up to 60 seconds, typically receive a few hundred or several thousand views, numbers that would make many community bank marketers proud. A few of FNB Community Bank’s videos, however, have garnered tens of thousands and even millions of views, reaching far beyond the community bank’s footprint.

“[TikTok] brings awareness and different eyes to our name that would not have seen us before,” Waddle says, “so to me, I highly value that.”

What it’s like going viral

As a fourth-generation community banker, Waddle is more than qualified to be the face of FNB Community Bank. After growing up around the bank’s culture, she started as a teller in 2012 and joined the marketing department in 2015. It’s given her a foundation that she pulls from daily.

Quick Stat

48%

of Americans between 18 and 29 use TikTok

Source: April 2021 Pew Research Center survey

“Our bank is unique, because I’m part of the family that started the bank,” Waddle says. “I have an inherent level of trust and understanding of what’s good to post.”

Her instincts have been proven accurate. The bank’s most popular post is a very short video of Waddle reminding viewers not to leave balances in their Venmo accounts, set to an audio clip riffing off rapper Nicki Minaj’s “I Get Crazy.” She then educates users on how Venmo makes its money.

The post has racked up more than 500,000 views on TikTok and about 4 million on Instagram Reels. It’s the community bank’s most popular post on those platforms by far.

What’s more, it has led to the bank gaining followers. Instagram’s “follow” button is close to where your thumb naturally sits, so thousands of people subscribed to FNB Community Bank’s feed in a short time—some, Waddle says, likely by accident. While some left, many stayed for the bank’s content.

“I had so many people that I know on a personal level in the community text me and say, ‘Oh my gosh, I just saw someone I know [on TikTok].’ They didn’t know we had a TikTok or anything until they saw it,” Waddle says. “So, it definitely did reach this area, but we’ve reached New York and all over the country, [too].”

Not just for teens

While Facebook remains king in terms of driving traffic, says Waddle, the bank’s viral video was a reminder of the huge exposure newer social media platforms can bring. The community bank celebrated with a cookie cake, and Waddle was recognized at the next quarterly meeting.

Still, she doesn’t recommend every community bank immediately make a TikTok account. “I don’t think it’s for every bank,” she says, noting that commercially focused community banks might be better served by focusing on LinkedIn’s professional audience. But if a community bank offers products that are tailored to younger customers, such as student checking accounts or loans for up-and-coming entrepreneurs, TikTok and similar platforms could be useful.

Remember, however, that people of all ages use TikTok and similar apps. As Waddle says, “It’s not just for teenagers.”


5 tips for TikTok

Julie Waddle, assistant vice president and marketing manager of FNB Community Bank in Midwest City, Okla., has lived much of her life on social media, mostly recently on TikTok. For community banks, her tips for getting started on the app include:

  1. Research the platform. Follow other community banks and local businesses to get ideas. If you decide to use TikTok, secure your bank’s username.
  2. Try repurposing existing content. Existing blogs and even other social media posts can be remade into videos with a smaller compliance hurdle than completely original content.
  3. Lead with people. Users want to see friendly faces, so showcase your colleagues’ funny personalities. Making TikTok content can be a fun way of involving everyone, Waddle says.
  4. Don’t be afraid to get creative. Some TikTok or Instagram sound clips may feel too silly for a community bank to use but can be made relevant with captions or voiceovers, Waddle says. She uses the app Canva to add quick animations.
  5. Be authentic. Ask yourself what you’d want to see. Waddle shoots roughly three funny or personality-driven posts for every video she makes about a product. “That’s my biggest thing is when I make content. I want it to be shareable, relatable and likable,” she says.

Eric Best is a writer in Minnesota.