There are plenty of reasons why small banks may be reluctant to amp up their social media presence. (Just, you know, #AskJPM.) Still, the bad weather sweeping across the U.S. this winter illustrates how these platforms can provide a real value-add.

Thursday's big snowstorm prompted many banks, large and small, to take to their Facebook pages and Twitter handles to inform customers of branch closings and/or hour changes.

A few banks used the storm to highlight the value of their mobile/online banking products and services.

And others found savvier ways to connect with customers.

SunTrust (STI), which is headquartered in Atlanta, a city hard-hit by unexpected weather patterns, for instance, even shared updates from government officials in the states it services via its Twitter handle.

Given customers' (and the media's) increasing propensity to use social media channels to air their grievances, it can be easy for banks to view these growing platforms as a curse. A Twitter handle, Facebook page, or even Instagram account can be easily written off as something a financial firm has to have to mitigate all that (often negative) online chatter. (Not helping matters: the fact that it's all-to-easy to slip up during social media initiatives.)

But it's equally important to note that, when leveraged correctly, these platforms can also be a real blessing and the perfect example of how technology can enhance customer service. 

Jeanine Skowronski is the deputy editor of BankThink.


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