Social media has given our traditionally uniform industry a platform to change how people think about banks in general. Social media has given us a huge opportunity to bust through the negative image that our industry is often branded with in the news and gives a voice to the community banking industry as a whole.

As community bankers, we all have stories to tell—stories like an office surprising a customer on his 92nd birthday with cake, or a community banker who dedicated his day to help the community that he was vacationing near recover from a natural disaster, or community bankers who are at every fundraiser, parade, and community event. These stories set our industry apart, and social media allows us to share them in creative ways that traditional advertising simply doesn't accomplish.

The challenge lies in breaking away from the white noise on social newsfeeds. How do we compete with cat videos, puppy pictures, and updates on your friend's new baby? Simply being on social media is no longer good enough. Banks should have a clear vision and a pronounced voice online. 

Whether your bank has a social presence that's performing remarkably well, lacking in steam, or if you don't have a presence at all, now is the time to take your bank's social presence to the next level in order to stand out. 

Identify your purpose and stick to it. Choose one or two core purposes for your overall social strategy. Each channel can have a different purpose; for example, you may use Facebook to engage and entertain, LinkedIn to post job openings, and YouTube to share brand stories or create how-to's. Be careful to shy away from posts that do not fit within your purpose in order to keep consistency and build trust from your audience.

Think outside the industry. We often look at what our peers are doing to benchmark how we're performing or what we should be doing. However, once you've identified your purpose, take a look at brands outside our industry that have a similar purpose and see what they're doing to drive engagement. 

Recruit internal brand advocates. It's imperative to get as many employees involved as possible. Clearly communicate your purpose and ideas with them and ask for their support in creating a content calendar. This fosters buy-in, creates internal brand advocates, and keeps everyone informed of what's going on in your social stream. 

Refine your strategy. Most social media platforms have made significant enhancements to improve analytics capabilities to help us understand the value of our efforts. We can leverage this data to better understand the habits of our audience, identify what they want to see, and refine our strategy accordingly. This will be an ongoing cycle to create high-quality, shareworthy content. 

To learn more about building your bank' social media strategy, sign up for the WBA's LEAD360 Conference to hear social media expert Spencer X Smith walk attendees through strategies for social media advertising on a community bank budget. You can also read a preview of Smith's session on page 21 of this issue. 

Adams is AVP - brand development at Royal Bank, Elroy and a member of the 2018-2019 WBA Marketing Committee.