Last November I was deligthed to accept Jesus Perez's invitation to contribute to the second edition of his BarCampBank Madrid.
I had a great time catching up with my readers and fellow supporters of innovation and social media in the banking industry.
As I mentioned several times on Visible Banking, today Spanish banks are leading the way in social media in the broadly conservative European banking industry.
I invite you to check my recent posts on BankInter's Innovation Labs to find a list of social media initiatives from financial institutions such as Banco Sabadell, Caja Navarra and of course BBVA. Also, please check my top 10 Spanish banks on twitter. published in the latest edition of my Visible Banking Twitter Watch Series.
BBVA, a Leader in Social Media
BBVA is one of the most engaging and innovative financial institutions online with 10+ initiatives in the social media space, and still counting: from their twitter accounts (BBVA , BBVA_Press or Compass just to name a few), their innovation blog planta29, their virtual career fair, their annual Open Talent contest, their strategic investment in Strands one of the leading PFM solution providers, to their own online communities Tu Cuentas and Actibva focused on helping Spanish people to make better financial decisions and better manage their money.
BBVA Hires Experienced Internet Leaders
BBVA understood that it was important to bring new blood to the organization, people with a fresh approach and a deep understanding of the online world. Most banks aim to become online the equivalent of the Amazon or the Apple of the banking industry. But they need help from outside their organization. In the last couple of years, BBVA recruited a fair number of digital pros from leading online companies such as eBay and Google to join their innovation and online community teams. Brilliant move.
At BarCampBank Madrid, I had the pleasure to eventually meet one of my most enthusiastic supporters, Jose Antonio Gallego, a former category then community manager at eBay.es.
Jose Antonio Gallego, Online Community Manager at BBVA, and President at AERCO (Asociación Española de Responsables de Comunidades Online). I invite you to connect with JA on Linkedin, visit his blog "comunidad en la red", and follow him on twitter @joseantoniogall.
Jose works closely with the Innovation team to identify and deliver new ways to better engage with their community online in order to achieve various goals such as to increase BBVA's share of voice, change brand perception, or drive both customer acquisition and customer retention.
The Senior Management is committed and the Innovation team is influential. Very exciting job.
The Actibva Community
Jose is involved on many projects, but especially on Actibva, the award winning online community launched by BBVA in 2008 (powered by Strands), to offer all the relevant information on finance and economics to its users. Please find more info on Actibva at the end of my post.
My Interview with Jose Antonio
I invite you to watch one of my very best video interviews so far. Ladies and gentlemen, Jose Antonio Gallego!
Visible Banking Views
I always urge my clients and my readers to start where it makes sense and don't spend a lot of money upfront: leverage free online services like twitter or blogs, tap into existing sizable trusted communities like facebook, start focusing on a soft topic or initiative like charity work or sport sponsoring, or engaging with your clients on twitter. Social Media = Live and learn.
BBVA has been one of the most active large banks in social media. Over the last couple of years, they have increased their presence on most of the social media channels and services available out there.
I love the fact that the Senior Management Team understand the importance of social media and see it as strategic: hiring digital pros from eBay and Google, giving Innovation the required budget and level of influence to make things happen, launching online communities focused on finance and budgeting.
This is very uncommon in the banking industry.
Launching your own online community is one of the boldest moves in social media. it requires a larger budget (which goes with higher expectations) and more resources. It is challenging to reach a critical mass of registered users, not mentioning active ones.
BBVA's approach to online commnunities is spot on:
* Technology: don't reinvent the wheel, white label a platform from a leading solution provider
* Focus on engaging the community - Internal Community Manager: the platform is not important, your ability to convince of the value of the platform and engage with your members is the key to success. Hire a community manager, don't outsource this important function.
* Think LT: it will take a lot of time and effort to build an online community from scratch. You need to be realistic in terms of targets, and give you enough time to succeed.
* Exit Strategy - Respect your members: think about your exit strategy, just in case your community doesn't take off. You must respect the time your members spent contributing and building their network of contacts. Don't do a Join2Grow by Fortis, a Slingshot by Capital One or a Ideablob by Advanta which all got terminated in the last 12 months for different reasons.
More on Jose Antonio and Actibva
Actibva on Twitter: on-demand market info + proactive following strategy
On 20th November, I received an email from Jose Antonio informing me of a new application launched by BBVA to provide Spanish investors on twitter with on-demand real-time market information on Spanish stock prices, foreign exchange, commodity prices and the indexes of the most relevant markets in the world.
I invite you to read the official announcement of the launch of this app on the ActiBva blog. Jose confirmed the idea for this service came as much from the feedback from the community as the desire from the ActiBva team to better serve the Spanish investors in an innovative way.
They also implemented an automated following process based on a thorough monitoring of Spanish tweeps covering 20ish key words relevant to the Actibva community.
Their following strategy had a positive impact on their growth rate (+240% between Nov09-Feb010) and last month they broke the 1k follower mark and became one of the #85 twitter accounts globally with over 1k followers and #2 in Spain as mentioned in my Visible Banking Twitter Watch #17. Following people is a good way to drive your follower base up the roof, but I recommend to do it wisely. In that case, I would be keen to analyze their follower base to assess "the quality" of their contacts and help BBVA take their twitter strategy to the next level.
Video Introduction to Actibva
I invite you to watch a YouTube video with J.A. introducing Actibva back in May 2008.
ActiBva brings together newspapers headlines, blogger reviews, stock market information, and simulators for mortgages, loans and other financial products. In case you missed it, Forrester flagged ActiBva on their prestigious Groundswell radar in June 2009.
Stats for the month of November 09: Actibva had over 100k unique users, 210k page views, 140k visits, and over 2100 registered users.
I invite you to join the Actibva community, visit their blog, follow them on twitter and become a fan on Facebook.
BBVA Social Media Slides
Please find below the presentation Jose Antonio delivered at the Banking Innovation Day organized by Microsoft on 19th November (found on the innovacionenbanca.com blog)
Related Articles on Visible-Banking.com
* Pol Navarro, Head of Channels & Innovation at Banco Sabadell
* BBVA Open Talent: Startups, Apply Now to Raise Your Profile & 100,000 Euros!
* Guest Post #4 - Overview of Social Media and Banking in Spain
* Visible Banking Press Articles & Slides
* Visible Banking Social Media Watch Series
* The Visible Banking Directory: Social Media in Financial Services