Citizens Bank of Edmond has people and businesses personally asking the CEO to take their money.
How did a 114-year-old, single location suburban community bank get to the point of generating business over social media and compete head to head with institutions many times its size?
President and CEO Jill Castilla says the bank is thriving because she and her staff connect deeply, positively and consistently with the people, businesses, and institutions in and around Edmond and nearby Oklahoma City.
This Army vet and mother of three has kept community banking in the family. She is the 4th generation of ownership and management of the bank, founded in 1901 (before Oklahoma was even a state).
Like many banks, Citizens Bank of Edmond saw difficulty after the Great Recession. Upon returning to Edmond after stints as CFO with a community bank in Minnesota and various posts with Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, she applied the force multiplier of social media.
Leveraging it and positive messaging, Castilla and her staff have made the bank a vibrant and award-winning institution. It competes with 50 different financial institutions, yet is consistently ranked in the top five banks in the region.
Castilla was recently recognized as Woman of the Year award by the Edmond Chamber of Commerce, American Banker Top 25 Women to Watch and was named by Independent Community Bankers of America as a top social media influencer.
What did Citizens Bank of Edmond intentionally set out to do – or do differently – using social media?
I recognized early on, from my first interactions on Facebook and then Twitter, that the next interaction I had after the initial connection could go much deeper. Social Media allows a relationship to grow more quickly than even after years of being in a community. It allowed me to gain a lot of credibility, to connect with service organizations and really become a leader in the community very quickly.
Coming out of the financial crisis, I first used Social Media to optimize our search results to help shift the stories about the bank from negative to positive. From there, that was the focus: deliver positive messages, advocate for the bank, the industry and the community. So, in the beginning it was mostly me on Twitter developing relationships.
I also loved the time efficiency of having meaningful conversations while multitasking at your desk, instead of shaking hands at traditional networking events.
Social is about producing business outcomes, but it begins with developing relationships and supplying valuable content. What did Citizens Bank of Edmond do to build dialogue?
We lift other people up and offer assistance. It’s similar to overhearing someone talk about banking, your community, your industry and then interjecting your perspective/assistance. If there’s a way that you can help them — being very genuine in how you interact with them — you are accepted and welcomed into that world.
With most of my local Twitter community, we’ve gone the next step to meeting in person. It’s how I met one of my greatest mentors. I’ve been following him for a long time and then tweeted that my New Year’s resolution was to meet him. He has a huge following on Twitter, lives in my community and shares wisdom that resonates with me. His response? Let’s make it happen! Now, we meet for coffee frequently, and he’s become a great advocate for our bank and such a great resource for me.
I don’t use Social Media as a targeting mechanism to try to get particular business. I don’t promote our products and services. It’s really just being part of the conversation that people start viewing you as more of an expert, or as a resource at least, for banking, and our community.
What other tools do you use besides Twitter?
While Twitter is my Social Media of choice, we utilize Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Google+. I also experiment with the Social Media tool du jour so that we can stay relevant and engaged with our target audience. We use Instagram for many of our photos when we do what we call “Cash Mobs”, which is a way we interact with some of the small businesses. It’s produced amazing results for us, including traditional media coverage.
We give money to our team to go to a particular business on a specific day. And while wearing their Citizens Bank of Edmond T-shirts, and on a prior day, coordinate with the small business so that they know that we’re coming in, our staff goes in and takes pictures, and puts it on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and then that business also does the same thing.
I use LinkedIn extensively to connect with peers as well as build on relationships that start via some other interaction, either on Social Media or in real life.
Twitter is the primary driver we utilize to interact with our customers and our community. It’s an amazing way for us to connect with financial technology firms because many of them are early adopters of Twitter, and so they’ll interact with you quite a bit. In some cases, you get to be on the leading edge of adopting a new technology because they feel like they know who you are.
I just got back from a large banking conference, and it’s amazing how many vendors and bankers that I saw there that I had previously interacted with on Social Media. As a new conference attendee, having so many “friends” made it very easy to network and further deepen relationships.
How did you arrive at your content and engagement strategy?
We have a social media plan, and structure, but we have no contrived content strategy. I have never scheduled a tweet. I enjoy being in the moment and accessible so that I can have authentic engagements.
We’ll talk about what’s happening in town beyond the events calendar. We celebrate others – it’s the whole “rising tide lifts all boats” strategy.
I think other banks can make a mistake in maybe engaging a third-party service that’s going to provide generic financial information and banking information that’s being broadcast by five thousand other people, and kind of generically put out there. We want our personality to shine through.
How have your social media activities influenced your company’s bottom line?
I can easily say yes. I probably don’t measure our success in social media like people typically track their success on social media by boasting about the number of followers or interactions. I get at least one new account per week from a relationship that originated from social media.
I consistently gain loan referrals from my interactions on Twitter and LinkedIn. It opens many doors with the prospect of millions in commercial loans for our institution. It also solidifies relationships to acquire that next loan with little to no competition. Social media has made my bank more profitable and increased our loan volume.. The possibilities to develop the pipeline through it are a gold mine.
What’s the one thing people would never know about marketing a bank?
We’re regulated, and that can be scary. But I think the thing that would surprise everyone is how much freedom you have to communicate via social media that don’t trigger the regulatory concerns.
What is one thing your social followers don’t know about you?
I love rap music. My family has rap battles at home.
What three blogs would you recommend?
Scott Williams and bigisthenewsmall.com is my favorite.
Oomphcast.com, is an Oklahoma-based marketing podcast.
How can people connect with you?
Do you know of other B2B marketers who are effectively integrating and using social media to fuel their businesses? I want to talk to them and share their story. Drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter at @RAReed.