TikTok for Community Banks? @Whodathought?

It doesn't seem that long ago that we published a blog, "Time to get in the Social Game” and you know what?  We didn’t even mention TikTok. At the time of that writing, TikTok had somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 million US adult users. A fairly respectable neighborhood, and double from the same time the previous year, but it hardly compares to the neighborhood where FaceBook lives with its nearly 1.5 billion users. Since then, TikTok’s user numbers have continued to almost double on a yearly basis and today boasts around 50 million US adult users. While the largest demographic of TikTok users is teenagers and young adults, ages 16-24, it’s not just a fad for Gen Z. It’s one of the fastest-growing social media platforms in the world and, according to Forbes, “an advertising haven for businesses.” Of course, Forbes goes onto say, “not every business.”  But, why not for community banks? I ask myself.

If TikTok is not one of the platforms that’s part of your social media marketing strategy, perhaps it should be. Check out this January 2, 2022 success story, told on ICBA’s independentbanker.org site, “FNB Community Bank is conquering TikTok.” It chronicles the success that a Midwest, OK-based community bank has had with a platform that just a few years ago, wasn’t even on most marketer’s radars.

“These days,” the article says, “Julie (Julie Waddle, Assistant Vice President, Marketing Manager) creates videos about financial advice, the community bank’s high-quality customer service and even its ugly Christmas sweater contest.” Her recordings can sometimes receive up to several thousand views. “A few of FNB Community Bank’s videos, however,” the article goes on to say, “have garnered tens of thousands of views, reaching far beyond the community bank’s footprint.” In total, Julie’s TikTok posts have garnered over a half million views.

Says Waddle, “TikTok isn’t for everyone. But if a community bank offers products that are tailored to younger customers, such as student checking accounts or loans for up-and-coming entrepreneurs, TikTok and similar platforms can be useful. And, what community bank doesn't offer these products?"

Early in my career, as I’ve no doubt mentioned before, I did brand building work at ad agencies, working in their creative departments and helping to craft the messages that would ideally 1) launch and/or build a brand, and 2) generate enough revenue for the client so that they could at least pay the ad agency’s fees. One of those brands was a soft drink. The key to building a soft drink business, we learned, was to “hook” users early. The goal is to bring those young users over to your brand right when they’re transitioning from juice-based beverages to carbonated drinks… the pre-teen years. If we could capture that user at that age, we “had them for life” we were told. And that’s because the soft drink category consists of consumers that are highly brand loyal. It was true then and still is; once an individual chooses, say, Coke, it will take a small army and a great fortune to convince them to switch to Pepsi… and vice versa.

Anyway, just think of how fabulous it would be if you could use a channel like TikTok, bring young people to your brand at 18 or so years of age, just as they’re starting their financial lives — first checking account, first car loan, etc. — and keep them, for, say, forever?

Craft a fun, engaging message that is heartfelt, personal, authentic, and emotional… like Julie’s ugly sweater “campaign,” and see what happens. The beauty of social, or at least one of them, is that you’re not committing to a lengthy schedule of print or broadcast advertising.  You’re not breaking the bank (pun intended) with huge production costs. And, if you give it a try and don’t feel it’s working, you stop. You’re not breaking any long-term contract, either.  Plus, unlike some of these other media, your campaigns are measurable, with metrics such as follower count, likes, comments, and shares. You don’t have to guess at whether or not it’s worth your time and energy or not.  You’ll know.

So, why not give it a try? After all, what have you got to lose? I hope this helps and, as always, I welcome your thoughts.

 About Bank Marketing Center

Here at BankMarketingCenter.com, our goal is to help you with that vital, topical, and compelling communication with customers; messaging that will help you build trust, relationships, and revenue. In short, build your brand. To view our campaigns, both print and digital, visit BankMarketingCenter.com. Or, you can contact me directly by phone at 678-528-6688 or email at nreynolds@bankmarketingcenter.com.