Welcome to the Snark Tank

Social media has become a constant force in connecting people across the globe. Individuals, groups, and large corporations from all over the planet are able to stay in constant contact in a digital – often public – realm.

With a public that is constantly informed on all major events, scandals, cat videos, etc. comes an opportunity for smaller institutions to step into the spotlight when their larger counterparts find themselves in the wake of a public blunder. Take the recent issue Wells Fargo experienced with double charging a large portion for their customers through their automatic bill pay system. This mistake left scores of customers with drastically diminished and, in some cases, overdrawn balances. Many customers immediately took to Twitter to air their grievances with the banking giant. Herein lies the opportunity for smaller institutions to take advantage of this fleeting moment of big bank discontent. Hop on the bandwagon of customer outrage and align your brand with an entirely new, previously unavailable, potential customer base.

Competitor mistakes create a limited window of opportunity to use humor with a low risk of losing credibility. It is hard for any company to pull off funny. It is especially hard, however, in the

financial world ­– a world where potential customers’ or members’ chief concern is trustworthiness, not an amusing ad campaign. However, a competitor’s mistake provides a great opportunity to let out a little humor while also taking the moral high ground and maintaining trustworthiness. Don’t get me wrong, a snarky tweet or two probably won’t bring in droves of new members or change your bottom line, but it does provide a valuable opportunity to show your current (and potential) members or customers that your brand has some personality. Pay attention to the specifics of customer complaints and base your posts on whatever is getting people most heated. If you can find common ground with angry customers and prove that you are able to provide more competent service, you’re on the right track to ratcheting up your customer base. Plus, a catchy hashtag like #DitchTheGlitch or #GlitchesGetSwitches always helps.

On a larger scale, brands like Old Spice, Oreo, and Smart Car have all recognized the advantage of the occasional snide humorous tweets. These posts humanize brands and remind consumers that there is more to many institutions, both large and small, than the more traditional formulaic ads designed to appeal to the masses.

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