Tue, Jul 28, 2009
The following guest post was written by Nicole Krug, Online Channel Product Manager at BB&T in Raleigh, North Carolina. As Nicole began developing a plan for BB&T to join the social media world, she conducted a competitive analysis of what other banks were doing in the space. Since the bank handles retail and commercial accounts, she looked at both types of banking services, but we will only review the business banking side of things as examples of how businesses are connecting to other businesses through social media.
While some banks have only recently started listening to conversations, financial institutions of all kinds have jumped into the conversations and are connecting with current customers, and generating leads through a variety of ways.
Wells Fargo has been a leader on the social media front, as the first national bank to create a blog and the first bank to have a presence on Facebook. Bank of America is close on their heels, as both banks have a created a presence on the major social media sites, and have utilized Twitter in a customer service function. Both banks provide a customer service agent from 9 AM – 5 PM, Monday – Friday, to answer general banking questions, or basic account service issues.
Bank of America has launched a small business banking community that has attracted over 15,000 members. Here customers can chat with other entrepreneurs and business owners or just post useful articles. Alan Maginn, senior analyst for Corporate Insight, points out “The banks are learning from clients, but it also extends the brand.” He adds that for an increasing number of online users, feedback on these sites is a major source of information. “There is a danger for firms if they don’t try to access this feedback in some way,” he adds.
Capital One also targeted the Small Business Community with a presence called Slingshot, which aims to be the “yellow pages” of the online marketplace. Launched in February 2008 in just two markets, Denver, CO and Raleigh, NC, this site takes a more localized approach to the online forum idea by providing an Internet–based venue for business owners in a specific region to come together and share ideas, seek advice, generate leads or promote their businesses. Members who sign up for Slingshot may create an online business profile with their name and location, as well as details about their business and photos of products or projects. Slingshot will also feature a searchable directory of small area businesses.
In a survey conducted by Corporate Insight, eight out of 20 banks and credit card firms had a presence on YouTube, including Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citizens Bank. These banks are realizing that the most important thing is to create a connection with their customers.
“The advice I would give is, ‘Go ahead and do it. I feel we are better prepared being on Twitter and using that as a communications tool than if we were standing on the sidelines and not knowing what was going on there,” says Tim Gluth, Webmaster at Wisconsin’s NorthShore Bank.
Social media is a new frontier, and though the social mediums continue to evolve, the communications culture shift is likely to be permanent. Banks have been working on strategies to create the perfect client experience online, and establish relationships with the tech-savvy, younger generation. These are some examples how social media provides a solution to both of these challenges.
Ultimately, banks grow based on their relationships, and social media is simply another channel through which to build relationships.