It’s the holiday season and your branch is bustling with holiday spirit and cheer. Customer’s walk through the doors and are greeted by smiling faces, kind words, and seasonal small talk.

The conversations happen continuously and organically. Customers come and go. Conversations start and end. But the voice that continuously echos through the room, belongs to your bank.

This voice speaks candidly with Mrs. Smith about how she is particularly excited for Christmas this year. Because after four boys, she finally has a girl to spend money on. This voice speaks with Mayor Jones about all the holiday gatherings happening throughout town. This voice gabs on with Mr. White about how there’s been so much snow this year, his roof might just cave in.

You’re a community bank and conversations go on inside your doors, each and everyday. Why should any of that change when you take your bank into an online social world?

It seems that many banks transition onto social media and start posting about themselves, rather than having a conversation. They seem to use social media like a newspaper advertisement. They post what they want to say and hope someone reads it.

Instead, they should look at social media for exactly what it is. A place to host social exchanges, and to carry your voice from inside your branch doors, outside.

Is your bank conversational? And what can a bank do to ensure they remain conversational? Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Understand what your voice is.

Decide how you want to sound on social media. (We recommend it coinciding with the sound that comes out of your employees mouths during the average work day).

Just like when Mrs. Smith comes in and talks to Judy from the bank, she knows what to expect. When she interacts with the bank online, she wants to be addressed in the same tone as if she had walked through your bank’s doors.

Ask questions to your viewers.

A conversation is two sided. What is the best way to start a conversation? Try asking a question. It focuses the attention on your audience, rather than yourselves. A perfect way to get members of your community to interact with you.

Think about when Mayor Jones walks through the door, and you ask him how things are going. This single question could send him into a tizzy about how crazy things have been around town, and how excited he is for all the festivities.

Listen to your audience.

There’s nothing worse than sitting down to have a conversation with someone and feeling like they aren’t listening. Instead you feel like they are talking at you – rather than with you.

When Mr. White comes in complaining about all the snow, and your staff empathizes with him, you create a conversation that is addressing his needs. You can do the same thing on social media. Perhaps he sends out a Tweet about the snow. Someone on your social media team could send him a snapshot of the weather forecast for that week with a caption that goes along the lines of, “Look! Thursday-Friday NO SNOW. Mother nature’s beginning to listen.” He’ll feel like he’s being heard.

Initially that interaction may have only happened should he have walked into the bank, but now he’s thinking of you outside your walls.

Interact with things your customers love.

Social media has been set up so that like minded individuals can easily interact with one another. This makes your job a whole lot easier. Find out where your customers are hanging out and what they are talking about. If you understand those things, you can begin to interact with those communities or people. By doing so, you’ll begin popping up in your audiences online world.

When your customer walks through your doors, there are ways to find out what they like and spark a conversation. For example, Mrs. Smith’s son may be devouring a lollipop, or Mayor Jones may be wearing a Habitat for Humanity t-shirt. These outside clues give you inspiration for something to start talking about. Same thing goes for online. Your customers are going to like, comment, and share things they enjoy. Start using it as a conversation starter.

Understand that every conversation doesn’t have to result in a sale.

Not every conversation you have is going to trigger a transaction. However, the interaction they have with you online will be remembered so that when they go to make a purchasing decision, they think of your bank.

For example, just because you agonize over the snow with Mr. White, it doesn’t mean he is going to jump and take out another loan. However, it is very likely that he comes into the branch twice a week because he enjoys the conversations, the friendly faces, and the interactions that occur. This is probably one of the reasons he decides to bank with a community bank, rather than a large national one. It has an influence on where he takes his business, and so can your online conversations.

These tips will help you become more conversational in the way your bank interacts on social media. Let’s stop pretending like social media platforms are a place to post advertisements, and look at them as an extension of the voice your community bank projects.

People enter your doors for the faces, the conversations, and the interactions that take place. Social media should bring those same things to the forefront.

So, who’s ready to start the conversation?