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PERSON OF THE WEEK: It seems like everyone is using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media sites - but are these online destinations being used correctly as a B2B tool? Frank Bocchino, vice president of marketing for West Palm Beach, Fla.-based OpenClose, addresses that issue in his new e-book, "The Insider's Guide to Social Media Best Practices for Banks, Lenders and Credit Unions." MortgageOrb spoke with Bocchino on what the industry needs to realize before it sends out tweets or hunts for Facebook friends.

Q: On the whole, are banks, lenders and credit unions doing an adequate job in using social media for B2B purposes?

Bocchino: Our society has been collectively bombarded by the "potential" and "power" of social media, but until it's explained in dollars and cents, most financial institutions - which are cautious by nature - are just going to dip their toe in the water. So banks, lenders and credit unions are doing the best they know how, through no fault of their own. That's because little proof has been presented on its return-on-investment potential, and few have addressed the compliance aspect. 

It is a similar phenomenon that businesses experienced in the early 1990s with websites. Banks, lenders and credit unions are community based and better suited to than most take advantage of the potential new business.


Q.
Many people mention Facebook and Twitter in the same breath when describing social media. However, should financial services providers approach both sites in the same way?

Bocchino: No, as their strengths lay in different areas. Facebook is best used as a secondary website. Depending on how well your site is optimized for the search engines, a search for some companies may actually bring up their Facebook page before their actual site. 

More than half a billion people have Facebook accounts, and most of them don't have - and, frankly, don't need - a Twitter account. If done right, you can really create a community on Facebook with conversations and in-depth articles.

Twitter is more of personalized newsfeed. It's best to announce promotions, new rates, quick news alerts about the company or the community, etc. However, the branding on both should be the same.


Q:
If a financial services provider wants to become involved on YouTube, what are some of the basic do's and don'ts to consider?

Bocchino: Just remember that it is called YouTube, not "YouPowerPoint." In other words, it should be in video format.

There's no need for Hollywood production and special effects, though. Interviews with real bank tellers and managers are always great. Sneak peeks at the new office or at the booth at the county fair are good, too. But the best are instructional videos, like one that makes its way through the new website so people can get their balance quicker, or a quick money-saving tip that may or may not involve your institution.


Q:
With so many companies involved in social media, how is it possible for banks, lenders and credit unions to stand out from the digital crowd?

Bocchino: Nobody really cares to meet their corn-chip manufacturer, but they do want to meet the people handling their money. Community banks and credit unions thrive on the interpersonal skills of their employees. Social media should be a digital arm of that same great customer service.

The real test is consistency and cross-platform promotion on your site, direct mail and print ads. Provide info that both customers and prospects would appreciate.


Q:
Where and how do you see social media evolving in the next few years?

Bocchino: The more we use it, the easier it will be to get our arms around. After the initial craze, there will likely be a backlash. But then, social media will become more transparent and simply a part of our daily lives like radio, television and the Web all have. 

It will make the buying experience better, with better-informed choices, while quickly pushing out vendors with bad products and poor service.  I guess you can say that social media will continue to become more socially acceptable.



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