Brand Slam Awards: Dedham Savings’ social media campaign aims at younger customers

‘It’s all about creating content that feels authentic to the platform and speaks to the needs of those who engage with it.’

By Craig Colgan

Dedham Savings’ marketing team knew social media can be a very effective path to winning over a younger generation of bankers. Research revealed that app-loving digital natives still value really great customer service. The Massachusetts bank determined it needed to reach these younger customers and potential  customers in a fresh, new way.

The result is an enlivened bank brand voice and revamped messaging effort that walked off with a 2022 ABA Brand Slam Award in the Social Media Campaign category. (The 2023 awards will be announced at the ABA Bank Marketing Conference, Sept. 27-29 in Austin.) “Suddenly we were showing up where this younger demo spends most of its time,” reads the bank’s award entry. “Like TikTok and Instagram stories. We even dabbled with fun new emerging media units.”

Liz Bissell, Dedham’s EVP, chief marketing officer answered our questions about the bank’s campaign:

Your entry reads: “With products spanning across different stages of a consumer’s life, a variety of social channels such as Facebook, Instagram and TikTok were leveraged to reach potential customers with a message relevant to them, on a channel they engage with most.” What was the nature of Dedham’s social media presence previously, and how did this new campaign change it?

In 2019, we introduced a fresh look and tone for the Dedham Savings brand with our “Here for the journey” campaign, that really helped us stand apart from other community banks across many channels, including social media. Instead of being all business and relying on staged or stock photography, using approachable language and real photos is one way we can help people see themselves (sometimes literally) in those moments when you rely on a bank to be there for you, from big life milestones to everyday situations.

Since then, we’ve evolved our photography style from past decades to the present—swapping disposable camera pics for selfies to appeal to younger bankers—which works really well on social media. Being on a range of social platforms with unique user bases and behaviors is helping us reach a wide-ranging audience where they are with content that fits right in. We saw a record 395 percent improvement in engagement year over year from 2021 to 2022.

You note that you adjusted your media strategy “to be more digital focused.” Did you specifically make budgetary or other moves away from other marketing efforts to focus on social media areas? Are these moves permanent?

One of our focus areas for this year has been to reach more young bankers, an audience that historically doesn’t always consider a community bank their first choice based on assumptions about what they can offer.

To reach these “digital natives,” where they go to learn and be entertained, we opted to increase our media investments across multiple digital and social platforms—including some that might seem a little “nontraditional” for a bank, like Tiktok and NextDoor, which have yielded surprisingly high levels of engagement for us. At the same time, we’ve continued to invest in platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, as well as traditional channels like out-of-home and local print publishers to reach as many people in our community as we can. Based on what we’re learning from the campaign and shifting opportunities we see in the market, we expect to continue investing in these digital channels that are working well for us, though we are always open to trying new things. From this, we saw a 28 percent improvement in total reach from 2021 to 2022.

What are some social media tips for banks trying to engage better and show up in a more meaningful way in those spaces?

Authentic messaging and imagery have been our key to recent success. We consider exactly where and when our audience is going to see our message and speak directly to their needs in language that will resonate with them. The kind of support a student going off to college needs from a bank is likely to differ from someone who isn’t all that comfortable with online banking. For example, when we’re thinking about how to reach young bankers on TikTok—a place they go to learn and be entertained—we’re looking at current trends to create content that makes sense for that channel and audience.

I have to ask about Nextdoor, as a platform that banks likely may not see as a leading destination for their content. That’s a space known for passionate participants. Can you describe the thinking that went into focusing on that space? And how did it go?

Yes, there are very passionate participants on NextDoor, so we wanted our ads to play into that! As for why we chose it, NextDoor was selected because it is a community-focused platform where neighbors go for advice and recommendations from others in their community (among other things). So as a local community organization, we want people to think of Dedham Savings when they’re thinking about making a switch.

Again, it’s all about creating content that feels authentic to the platform and speaks to the needs of those who engage with it. Luckily, we’ve seen great engagement there so far, with results that are 30 percent higher than the industry benchmark.

Check out our profiles of 2022 ABA Brand Slam Awards winners.


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