Facebook: the hardest part is the beginning: a Massachusetts' bank used gift-card drawings to attract its initial core of followers.

Author:Albro, Walt
Position:D + H[TM]

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STARTING UP A FACEBOOK PAGE CAN BE A CHALLENGE to a community bank--especially when the institution is new to social media.

What's the best way to begin? Can the bank handle the project by itself? Does it need to use an outside provider? How does it attract a critical mass of followers? How much manpower will be needed to keep the page running successfully?

Marlborough Savings Bank (assets: $500 million) in Marlborough, Mass., is an example of a financial institution that recently initiated its first social media presence--a Facebook page. The bank dealt with all of the questions mentioned above. Its experience is a guide for others 'seeking to go the same route.

"One of the most important things is that you have to commit," explains Ellen Dorian, executive vice president, retail banking. "You don't want to go gangbusters for a month and then let everything drop off."

Being there for customers

Marlborough Savings is a mutual savings bank located in a suburb west of Boston. It has six offices and about 80 full-time employees. The bank has existed since 1860 and, over the years, has become an established community fixture. Its market has an abundance of high technology and medical-service industries, and household income ranges from mid-income to affluent. Existing customers -tend to skew slightly older, prompting the bank in recent years to target a younger demographic.

The bank's brand is exemplified by its tag line: "A Great Bank."Marlborough Savings has cultivated highly engaged employees noted for their close connections with customers. "Whenever a merchant suffers a data breach, we immediately take the initiative and tell our customers what they need to do to protect themselves," notes Jamie Belmore...

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