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Community banks get social

By David McMillin · Bankrate.com
Saturday, July 6, 2013
Posted: 6 am ET

As account holders become increasingly addicted to the screens of their smartphones, tablets and computers, some small banks are hoping to establish big online presences to connect with them.

The Independent Community Bankers of America released two inaugural ranking sheets this week: "Top 50 Community Bank Leaders in Social Media" and "Top 20 Community Banker Influencers on Twitter."

"Social media opens the doors of opportunity even wider for community banks," Chris Lorence, ICBA executive vice president and chief marketing officer, said in a statement. "Consumers now expect fresh content, insight and consistent interaction with brands they are connected to online, and community banks are no exception."

I perused the list of banks, visited some of their social media channels and found a mixed bag of results. While some institutions posted fun pictures and information about new branch locations, I also stumbled across some banks that simply posted a number of updates that informed readers of scheduled website maintenance hours.

Social media is an area where members of the banking industry, both big and small, have struggled. The need for consistent monitoring means that financial institutions need to hire employees who are solely dedicated to responding to customer inquiries and complaints. As more online users grow accustomed to getting answers immediately, social media puts pressure on banks to deliver faster service.

I expect that many of the country's 7,000-plus community banks will continue to face challenges simply because they have limited resources. However, if they can keep their customers happy, small banking institutions may be able to avoid some of the tougher consequences of the online world that big banks have faced. Consider two real page names I just found with a quick search on Facebook: "JPMorgan Chase is Evil" and "Bank of America Sucks."

What do you think of banks popping up in your news feed? Do you care if your institution is active on social media?

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