Horizon Bank: Using Social Media to Reach Communities Across the Midwest
Social media has become a huge part of the everyday lives of most people. The same can be said for businesses who are now using websites like Facebook to interact socially with not necessarily customers, but anyone and everyone in communities where their branches serve their clients.
Horizon Bank, headquartered in Michigan City, is one such company. They’ve stayed involved and active throughout social media and last year they created a full-time position within the company that coordinates all of the social media for the bank.
“We take it very seriously here,” said Amy Phares, Horizon Bank’s Public Relations & Social Media Coordinator. “We have a social media committee that consists of executive management, marketing, H.R., and I.T..”
Horizon Bank’s social media committee meets quarterly to put out specific reports that consist of information acquired through their online social media initiatives. This gives Horizon the chance to see how and where they are reaching fans, customers and potential clients.
“We have great social advocacy through our advisors,” said Phares. “We have over 500 employees so we really promote any advocacy efforts and encourage them to share and like what we put out. We’re very active in the communities that we serve around our branches so there’s always a lot of content to put out and showcase that involvement.”
“We don’t push a lot of products with social media,” Phares noted. “It’s more about what’s going on and how we’re supporting the community.”
Whether it’s a branch in a small town or a large city, Horizon Bank employees who are involved in the community are encouraged to share their outreach and experiences within the online and social media community.
“It’s good to show that we are supporting all types of events around all of our branches and, of course, heavily in Michigan City where our corporate office is located,” said Phares.
One of Phares’ big concerns when she was brought in to manage Horizon’s social media was whether or not using these web-based social outlets would get the support and attention they deserved from every division within the company.
“They support it fully and that’s been great because there’s always criticism with the value of social media and we all definitely see the value. What I like is that you can see the results. It’s so different from old-school advertising where you put out an ad or a billboard. There are so many subscribers and so many people who drive by but, with social media, you can get even more and they’re extending their analytics on all of this. You can see that it reached this many people and this many people were engaged, and we can go further into that and see any financial benefit but it’s more purely P.R.”
While the majority of Horizon’s online involvement isn’t centered around the promotion of products and services, several of the Michigan City based institutions financial advisors have made use of social media platforms to reach new clients.
“We have a few savvy advisors who really do benefit from the use of social media by getting referrals and helping them to reach customers.”
“Not everyone is super savvy on social media,” Phares said. “We do offer social media training to our advisors to keep everyone on the cutting edge of what's going on and to help them utilize the platforms as best they can.”
Social media has become a great tool for Horizon to use for recruiting as well. Through these social outlets, Horizon is able reach clients and communities, but also prospective financial advisors and employees like never before.