Five Not-So-Best Practices For Banks On Facebook

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While researching an upcoming Aite Group report on What Bank Marketers Should Do With Twitter, I stumbled across an article on Mashable titled 5 Best Practices for Financial Institutions on Facebook (no link deserved). After stumbling across it, I fell face down in the pile of cow dung that the article is. The article list five best practices for FIs on Facebook:

1) Don’t just talk about banking; 2) Host contests; 3) Offer career advice; 4) Be cool; and 5) Show off your good work.

My take: To call something a “best practice” implies that it produces a positive, desirable business result. If you can’t prove that it does, you need solid reasoning and logic why it should. Unfortunately, the Mushable (intentional slur) article does neither.

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Let’s examine these so-called best practices one by one:

1. Why shouldn’t you just talk about banking? People have a million places to go online to interact on the millions of things that occupy their time. Why in the world would they go to a bank or credit union Facebook page to watch a soccer video? It’s not that it’s wrong to talk about things other than banking (which I would broadly define as things related to managing one’s financial life). But with the choices available, FIs need to train customers to expect certain kinds of content on their Facebook page. Random content about non-banking things won’t get people to come back often.

2. Hosting a contest can’t be bad, can it? For most FIs, hosting a contest on Facebook is like promising a friend you’re going to take her to a great party, then driving out to some god-forsaken barren, deserted place, dropping her off and leaving. So you’ve lured your customer to your Facebook with the promise of winning a contest (which, if they had a brain in their head, they would know they wouldn’t win), and then after they get there, you do nothing to keep them there, because the content on your Facebook is just a bunch of irrelevant drivel, rehashed from marketing messages dreamed up by some marketing intern. Nix the contests.

3. Bank of America is where I always turn for career advice. No better place to turn for career advice than to companies going through their own RIFs. If you take career advice from a bank, or ask a bank for career advice, I hope I’m never stuck in YOUR line at the cash registers at Frenchy’s Adult Book Store.

4. Be cool. Dear Mashable: Telling a bank to “be cool” is like telling Joe Biden to “be articulate.” And a bank does not qualify as cool just because it used the word “huzzah” on its Facebook page.

5. Show off your good work. I’m actually inclined to agree with this one. People who interact with their banks on Facebook are highly engaged in their financial lives.  They’re not their to chit chat, watch soccer videos, or talk about whether or not they should quit their jobs. They’re looking for a deeper connection with their chosen FI (I know that’s hard to believe, but they are the minority), and want reinforcement that they’ve made the right decision about who to do business with. So go ahead and toot your horn from time to time.

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