My career in banking over the years have taught me that most innovation in banking  comes in the form of technology, not necessarily relationship building.  Yet, as a community banker I deeply understand how important and valuable relationships are.  Throughout my banking career I’ve fully embraced the power of social media, our CEO Jill Castilla not only understands, but, fully embraces it as well.

Social media is one of the biggest innovations of our time which incorporates technology, but more importantly relationships as well.  I try my best to stay at the forefront of social media since, it’s one of the greatest opportunities the banking industry has the privilege to take privy to.  I connected with John Siracusa a few years back VIA social media and we’ve had the opportunity to communicate often via Twitter sharing thoughts which many times turned into blog posts of mine which ended up on the #BankSocial blog.  One day, not so long ago he approached me to provide a workshop at his conference #BankSocial and after looking at the agenda and speaker list I was certainly intrigued.  Peers and colleagues I’ve connected with via social media over the years are almost all attending or speaking at #BankSocial.   Clearly, I saw something different about this conference.  It was positive, upbeat and focused on winning in social media and it was especially innovative.  I could see that putting a conference like this together was a tremendous undertaking.  So I had to learn more about why it was created in the first place – because you must really love social media and the banking industry to make this happen.  With my intrigue I had to ask John Siracusa, founder & creator of #BankSocial,  some questions.  I am glad this interview was the result.

First, allow me to introduce John! John Siracusa is the creator of #BankSocial, the first banking conference solely dedicated to content marketing and social media. He’s also the host of “The Bank On It Show,” a banking and social media Podcast that is available on iTunes and Stitcher for download. He is a popular industry speaker, having spoken at major conferences like ABA and other state banking associations across the US. John teaches banks to connect with customers, and their community at large. He believes in creating a social experience your customers can’t walk away from. His innovative articles are featured in American Banker, The Financial Brand, BAI, CB Insight and other financial publications.

So John, why did you create #BankSocial?

I was frustrated Ann. Social media is this powerful, living, breathing organism that is reshaping the way that humans communicate today and forever, yet in banking (many times and at all conferences) its focus was reduced to nothing more than a single session.  Can you believe that? Think about it for a second, it should blow your mind.  Sadly, I could foresee the natural integration of social media and finance looking fairly grim.  I wanted to change that and could name hundreds of people in banking that felt the same so I decided not to wait for another organization to create a social media conference for banks, and instead of a conference focused on basic social tactics I decided to build a place where hundreds of influencers could meet, network, and learn from other top figures in banking.  If a potential attendee takes a quick look at the agenda/speakers and other current attendees they will very quickly see that #BankSocial has attracted almost all of them.  I could go on for days naming those people.  I also believe social media to be completely misunderstood.  It’s not just about a single platform, tactic or promotion – it’s about building and interacting with people in a powerful way, yet, integrating all marketing into it. Forgive me, I don’t want to over simplify it, but that’s exactly what wins in social media today and with that – there is nowhere on the planet where a bank or credit union can witness and take privy to this type of content in a meaningful way.   So I decided to lead by example.  Take a look at the #BankSocial hashtag on Twitter and you will see hundreds of powerful interactions.  Take a look at the agenda and you will see powerful examples of banks providing workshops in all facets of social media that actually results in revenue.  So why did I create #BankSocial?  The simple answer is that I wanted to create the opportunity to provide real life examples, along with figures in banking that dominate in the realm of social media in order to get them all together in one place.

 What is it exactly that you want attendees to learn at #BankSocial?

If you follow the digital content that is shared VIA #BankSocial’s channels you’ll quickly see how powerful they are.  Just by following and interacting with the brand in that realm will teach banks about a dozen powerful social media strategies.  At the conference, attendees will learn much more, better yet, they will learn how to put into practice the best strategies in social media integration today, plus they will have the ability to interact with many of the best and brightest in banking/social media today. I want bank and credit union marketers and executives to learn that social media is one of the most powerful and could be the most profitable opportunity today – by attending #BankSocial in 2016 they can clearly envision, create, and implement a social media plan based off of the experiences of top banking leaders today, rather than based off of conjecture. Brands today serve their customers/audience but brands of the future will fuse their customers/audience into the brand by providing a truly unique and powerful user experience. In a sense the customers are the brand because they play such a big role in creating their own experience by utilizing the brand as a conduit.  That’s the essence of social media marketing and a superior user experience.  I want attendees to learn how to completely own the markets/community/region that they have a footprint in and integrate every form of traditional/non-traditional marketing to create a conduit of powerful and deep user experiences.   #BankSocial is the only banking conference in the world that this platinum mine of social strategy can be learned and implemented.

While attendees take advantage of the great content this conference has to offer, what will you be doing at #BankSocial in April?

My job is simple.  Making sure that all the Twitter handles shake hands in real-life rather than message each other from across the bar.

Great John, I want to thank you for taking the time to interview with me. I am very much looking forward to #BankSocial in NJ this April!

Have your own questions for #BankSocial Founder John Siracusa? Ask them in the comments section below!