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The Truth About Social Networking

By: Tom Wessels

The majority of banks do not use social networking sites, according to Denver-based Fortner, Bayens, Levkulich & Garrison P.C. During February and March, the firm asked its newsletter subscribers to tell it about how they use social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, and what their concerns are about using these sites.

For the question, “What social networking sites do you use?” 61 percent of the respondents said they use Facebook for personal use, 34 percent said they use LinkedIn and 22 percent said they use YouTube. Interestingly, more than 29 percent of the respondents said they do not use any social networking sites.

That percentage jumped up considerably for the question, “What social networking site does your bank use?” where nearly 72 percent of the respondents said their banks do not use any social networking sites.

Twenty-three percent said their bank uses Facebook, while just over 10 percent said the bank uses LinkedIn. More than 70 percent of the respondents said they either do not visit social networking sites or spend less than one hour per week on these sites.

What are banks trying to achieve with social networking? More than 60 percent said they are using these sites to market their banks. Just under 40 percent said they are looking to attract new clients and about 8 percent said they are using these sites as recruiting tools. About 40 percent responded that they don’t really know why the bank is using social networking, and 15 percent said they are doing it because their competitors are.

For the question, “What, if anything, worries you about social networking?” the respondents were concerned with security and time primarily. Almost 63 percent said they were worried about confidential data leaking out, and 23 percent said using these sites will give their bank a bad name. About 66 percent said it will take too much time to manage the site and another 34 percent said people will spend too much time using it. More than 57 percent said no one knows what to do with these sites.

Given that so few banks seem to use social networking sites, it was interesting that more than 40 percent of the respondents said that social networking is the wave of the future. More than 20 percent said these sites are a good way to advertise their bank for free, but about 35 percent said it was either a time waster, a fad, a mystery or will have no impact on the bank’s business. Many of the respondents pointed out that while it may be a time waster or a mystery currently, there could be value in the future. Others said they could be good for business but the drawbacks are uncertain and could be a good way to get in touch customers who may have relocated and did not update contact information. One respondent pointed out that sites like these are just another way to hide behind non-personal communication tools.

Tom Wessels is director of operations at Fortner, Bayens, Levkulich & Garrison, P.C., where he handles marketing and information technology activities. Contact him at wesselst(at)

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