The article was published in the September 2018 edition of the Kansas Banker Magazine. 

Social media can be a leisurely and personal activity. It can also quickly become a business blunder. Take McDonald's as an example. In 2017, a Twitter account run by the fast-food company was compromised by a hacker with malicious intentions. The hacker released a hateful tweet directed towards the U.S. President using the McDonald's corporate Twitter account. The tweet was only public for 20 minutes, but the repercussions lasted much longer. Even though it wasn't McDonald's staff who sent out this tweet, the tweet was under the company name, so they had to respond to the criticism and fallout.

This scenario is a great reminder that every step of the social media process matters, from the security around accessing accounts to the monitoring of responses to posts that were made intentionally. Here are some items to consider when developing your bank's social media policy.

Be secure

It is best practice to not use the same password for multiple accounts. This also applies to any social media accounts your bank manages. If you have accounts for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, set up unique passwords for each account.

Limit access to posting

Bigger banks tend to leave this responsibility to a marketing team, but if you are a smaller community institution, you might need some assistance with this matter. Designate responsible parties who are allowed to post to your social media accounts, and make sure they know the do's and don'ts for posting to your accounts.

Have a review process prior to posting

Review the post for content, grammar and spelling, images, confidential information, and any other information that may be important to your institution. When an image or link is included in the post, check the link for safety and the image for clean content. Nobody wants to direct viewers to a malicious website or show an image that violates the guidelines of social media platforms. Spelling and grammar may seem like an obvious thing to review, but small mistakes can have embarrassing consequences. Check, re-check, and check again before posting.

Keep the message simple and audience-focused

Define the message you want readers to see when they view your post. Are you letting prospects know about a new service you are offering, or perhaps notifying customers about the opening of a new location? Whatever the message is, make sure to be clear and concise. Do not get caught up in the popularity of memes or other popular social media trends – not every audience will understand the message you are trying to convey. A little humor is fine and even recommended, but make sure its humor that your diverse audience will understand and appreciate.

Always monitor

Monitor what your bank is posting, and what is being posted about your bank. If customers are disgruntled with a service, they often take to social media to release their frustrations. A positive aspect of this outlet is that it gives your bank the opportunity to respond to the customer in a public environment, and address their concerns. When someone posts a comment or question on your posts, make sure to respond to their questions in a timely manner. Doing so will not only show that you care about what they are asking, but that you pay attention to interaction they give on social media sites. Even if your bank does not manage any social media accounts, there is still plenty of monitoring to do.

Oversee employee activity

Do not be a social media stalker, but if an employee is venting a work issue on social media, that could reflect badly on your bank. Establish an internal environment where employees can bring their problems directly to their superiors or branch managers to be discussed in a civil manner. In addition, as long as things like tweeting and live-streaming continue to be social media trends, ensure your employees are familiar with your organization's non-disclosure policy to verify they aren't publishing confidential information.

Have fun!

While your job requires you to have a professional appearance on social media, platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are meant to help you make connections with colleagues and customers alike. Use this connection to your advantage, and do not be afraid to be friendly and genuine with your customers via social media.