#BankSocial had the joy of interviewing Janice Ortbring, the Vice President of Marketing at Bank of Ann Arbor, and her Social Media Specialist Matthew Altruda. Our hope for the interview was to celebrate a Tweet of theirs that went viral, and to gain some insight into how they create an environment conducive for social media virality at their financial institution – this isn’t the first time their bank experienced social media success.

On October 13 of 2014, Bank of Ann Arbor sent out a Tweet that said:

For all of you that aren’t college football fans, Ohio State is one of Michigan’s biggest rivals. Sending this out was a nice little jab for Ohio State. This quick dig at Ohio State set off a media frenzy.

Let’s take a look at what Janice Ortbring had to say about it all…

The Interview

Could you please give us a brief summary of the results from the “We will not be closed on Columbus Day…” Tweet?

“The Columbus Day Tweet made national news and had over 4,000,000 impressions! This Tweet had only 75 characters but experienced over 1500 Retweets. It was featured on ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, Fox, NBC, CBS, The Washington Post, and countless other news sites, tv, and radio stations. This video (see below) is perfect for explaining the exposure we received. ”


What was Bank of Ann Arbor’s social media/marketing departments reaction to the viral success? What steps did you take?

“Our first step was to enjoy the success of the Tweet and the humor it provided for all. It had 9,700 interactions from 7,100 unique viewers. Interaction is one of the great features of social media, so next we tried to Favorite, Reply, and Retweet a lot of the interaction. It was a great day for us, and for social media in the banking industry.”

Bank of Ann Arbor has had content go viral before this, could you please elaborate on what happened with some of these pieces, and what do you believe accounted for their success?

“We’ve enjoyed great success with social media and national exposure with the success of our concert series, Sonic Lunch. Sonic Lunch is an outdoor free concert series every Thursday afternoon in the summer. Previously, we had Darren Criss perform.  He’s a former University of Michigan student and  a star of Glee. Glee announced the concert date on national television to over 8 million viewers. Due to the amount of exposure and expected attendance, we did a number of things. First, we held the concert at the Michigan Theater for a more controlled environment, and limited the guest list to 1,700 people. Second, we created #Crissbands and incorporated social media. #Crissbands were handed out at select locations, chosen and Tweeted out by us, exactly one hour before we would be there. It allowed for locals to be able to secure their attendance because they follow us on social media. Darren also has millions of followers which aided in getting great exposure. We are thankful for all his support.”

Bank of Ann Arbor uses Twitter frequently to interact with their community. What are 3 strategies used to promote that interaction?

“Social media is an extension of of our brand, and our vision to support our communities health and wealth. Our first strategy is to be genuine, honest, and build in a little humor from time to time. Our second strategy is to continue to support the customers and local businesses in as many ways as possible. Social media provides us with a medium to share their successes. You can’t be a community leader without directly supporting the community you do business in. Our third strategy is to educate in the importance of supporting local businesses and how that directly strengthens the fabric of the community.”

So how do you think other banks can get their content to go viral? In other words, what advice do you have for them?

“We wouldn’t suggest any bank TRYING to make content go viral. We would suggest using social media as a great frontier of communication to support their customers and build a foundation for the future. It’s up to the reader to decide if it’s viral or not. However, there IS a way to ensure that a Tweet WON’T go viral, and that’s to not be present. Start the conversation, and keep it going, good things will follow.”

Special thanks to Bank of Ann Arbor, Janice Ortbring, and Matthew Altruda for taking the time to interview and for their continued help!

Bank of Ann Arbor continues to make viral content happen, but what can your bank do to try and receive the same amount of viral success?

Follow These 3 Steps

Create Content That Shares Emotion

Bank of Ann Arbor’s Tweet did just that! It played into a rivalry that many individuals have a strong affinity too, while tying in just the right amount of humor that readers felt like sharing it.

Create A Network Where People Are Going To See Your Content

Bank of Ann Arbor didn’t just build a Twitter page that day and send out their update. They had continuously been creating content and interacting within their community. They had an established following before this Tweet was released and therefore ensured they had a large community already paying attention to them, and willing to interact. It’s very rare that content goes viral without a pre-established audience, so continuously fostering that relationship and building your online community is important.

Make Your Content Easy To Find And Share

Bank of Ann Arbor has a very active and creative social media department. They kept this Tweet short and to the point. It was placed strategically on social media on a day when people would be wondering if the bank would be open. In other words, it was easily found by people and quickly able to be shared. The fact that it was funny just added fuel to a fire.

There it is. The banking Tweet that ended up on ESPN. The simple message that soared across social media and publishing channels, and proved to community banks across America that you can create content that your customer’s want to share and interact with.

It’s just a matter of getting out there and creating it. Who’s ready? Let us know how you plan to start in the comments below!