Top Banks Developing Centers of Social Media

Around 2010, many big banks went all-in in terms of their social media presence.  Social media strategy wasn’t something banks’ current marketing staff had the capacity to manage, and many opted to create and hire for positions like “Social Media Strategist” or “Online Community Manager.”  Banks needed people who understood Facebook, Twitter, and the other social media tools as well as where social media was going in the next 3-5 years.

Now in 2014, big banks such as Chase and Wells Fargo have taken their social media strategies to the next level.  Following the leads of their peers in other sectors such as personal technology and consumer goods, they have opened or have announced plans to open their own Social Media Command Centers.  Chase has one front and center in its Columbus, Ohio campus atrium and Wells Fargo plans to open a primary center at its San Francisco headquarters and a secondary center in Charlotte.

For those who haven’t heard of this concept, a Social Media Command Center is simply a centralized location where an organization’s social media team members can track, monitor, and get involved in online conversations about the brand.  Many are fancy glass-enclosed spaces with flat screen TVs, but they can also be just a group of team members’ desks arranged in the same area.  These command centers are intended to handle daily customer engagement but are also ready to manage public relations crises when required.

Some even have representation from the organization’s different business lines literally sitting in the Command Center.  As you can see in this video from Chase, the bank has customer service specialists from Retail, Credit Card, and Home Lending actively checking customer questions and responding to them:

These command centers are a win from a marketing, public relations, and customer service perspective.  To me, they demonstrate that the bank promotes a culture of listening to customers and applying their feedback to make improvements.  In my experience, banks have too often overlooked the importance of understanding the customer’s experience.  Today, these command centers allow banks to be reactive, and proactive, to trends in customer needs and desires.

Before banks embark on opening a command center of their own, it is important to outline a clear social media strategy and policy.  Additionally, banks must understand the business case and the return on their social media investments.  Also, banks need to define success metrics and track against those goals.

Jordan Sternlieb is a leader in West Monroe Partners’ West Coast Banking Practice and has collaborated on various banking industry projects with the firm’s Customer Experience Team.

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