I got back from the 2011 American Bankers Association National Convention about 10 hours ago and I'm now starting to begin the process of digesting the many messages knocking around in my head. Before I go into the social media messages I'm currently digesting, let me say this - the ABA scored a perfect 10 on locale for this year's event. The weather along the San Antonio River Walk could not have been better. It was tragic to have to be indoors during the event.
So, this year's annual convention would not be complete without at least one segment on social media use. In fact, we had two. One segment was a vendor-produced breakfast presentation and the second was one that featured the ABA's Denyette DePierro, Glenview State Bank's David M. Kreiman and yours truly. In addition, at least one other presentation brought up the issue of social and its importance to the banking industry - particularly the community bank segment.
The slide below, from Cornerstone Advisors, pretty much tells gives the gist of the messages: it's the number of users, stupid!
The message being delivered across the board was that social media is too popular among all demographic groups to be ignored. Banks, at a minimum, should attempt a low-risk approach to social media. Banks were advised to wet their toes by launching a simple yet well thought out campaign to live the social media experience and make an educated assessment.
While disagreement may result regarding the appropriate uses of social media (e.g., sales tool? marketing tool? community outreach tool?), everyone agreed on its usefulness.
Perhaps the most useful bit of advice was provided at a presentation by Beyond the Arc. According to Beyond the Arc's Steve Ramirez, a bank should have some idea what it wants to accomplish with social media before embarking on the task. Is it increased deposits, increased brand awareness/goodwill, increased loan production, etc. Without an end in mind it will be impossible to determine the utility of social media.
Regardless of the exact expectation, banks should consider utilizing social media since social media use among consumers has become ubiquitous as has consumers' expectation that banks and other businesses also utilize social media.
Tell you what I would like to see next year from the consultants...case studies on social media usage and ROI for small community banks under $500MM. We get lots of stats on the big guys. BofA, Chase, American Express, etc. They have budgets to implement the cool (and pricey) campaigns and measurement systems. But I'm more interested in First Bank of Main Street, One Percent Bank and their peers.
All in, the message at ABA 2011 was what I expected. "If you're not on social media, get it on it!" And I believe that's the right message.