There are dozens of ways to leverage social media: from the less engaging (such as posting a job on linkedin, advertising on facebook, using a twitter account as "a glorified RSS feed") to the most transparent and inviting (communicating about a sensitive merger, crowdsourcing to achieve product co-creation).
On Monday 14 February 2011, Australia's NAB leveraged social media to launch a clever marketing campaign, "The Break Up" which falls into the former category. It is important to note that NAB started leveraging social media recently (summer 2010).
On Tuesday my friend Monty Hamilton, former Head of Online at UBank (part of the NAB group, and one of the most engaging banks on facebook and twitter), sent me a DM to make me aware of this initiative. I invite you to read his excellent post entitled "Hats off to NAB... Seriously!".
First of all, well done to the NAB team which enjoyed a tremendous press and blog coverage online. To that respect, this is already mission accomplished.
But from my opinion, this is merely a smart traditional marketing campaign which uses social media and more sharable content to accelerate Word-Of-Mouth online.
Clear Call to Action: We are Different, so Switch and Bank with us!
"The Break Up" relies on one key destination http://breakup.nab.com.au (some sort of blog or mini "social media newsroom") with a clear call to action which is to open a new current account with NAB.
I like the way the micro site is built: it is an aggregator of rich social media content with various feeds from youtube, twitter, facebook, and a blog section listing the press and blog coverage about the initiative (with links to the original articles).
In all fairness, the bank surely has other objectives beyond driving online sales and increasing market share such as improving brand perception, increasing customer retention and driving customer advocacy.
NAB is the first bank to adopt such an approach, and they clearly benefit from the 1st mover advantage: they are perceived as different and (at least a bit) more transparent than their competitors in Australia.
Promotion: Social Media to Accelerate WOM
NAB did a good job leveraging its social media assets and producing some sharable and viral content. The bank heavily promote its initiative on their official:
* youtube channel: a customized look and feel, a sizable number of videos produced for the campaign, and some excellent video descriptions with a good call to action (listing all the key links). Great results with many YouTube most watched channel awards (sponsored channel).
* facebook page: a dedicated tab, dedicated wall posts, a dedicated discussion board (limited activity),
* twitter account: a dedicated (generic) hashtag #breakup, regular tweets directing to their microsite, RTs and Thank You tweets to enthusiastic tweeps.
An Obvious impact on Share of Voice and Brand Sentiment
A couple of days ago, I found this chart on the ZenithOptimedia Australia blog.
Again from a sha re of voice and brand sentiment's point of the view, the campaign is a huge success. The feedback seems generally very positive and the press is talking about "a revolution". This is another proof that tapping into social media is one of the most efficient ways for brands, financial institutions included, to accelerated Word-Of-Mouth and put a campaign on the radar of a sizable number of websites and blogs throughout the world. Surely NAB wouldn't have enjoyed so much visibility without their use of twitter or youtube...
Stay tuned on Visible Banking and look for my future updates (the Visible Banking Facebook Watch series and the Visible Banking Twitter Watch series): I will keep track of the impact of this initiative on the size of the bank's "communities" on facebook and twitter!
But Social Media is About Engagement and Conversations
What I'm interested the most with social media initiatives are conversations between a Financial Institution (FI) and its customers and its influencers. I love seeing FIs requesting feedback in a transparent way.
For this initiative, if I can't argue that people are talking about it on twitter and express how happy they are to see a bank acting differently, I can't help but regret the lack of conversations on the bank's own social media online assets.
I admit that my expectations were possibly too high, when I saw the button "Join the conversation" on NAB's facebook page. It simply directs you to a discussion board on facebook with only two topics and a few user comments...
Having said that, you can find comments on the wall but the bank hasn't found an efficient way (yet) to consolidate the conversations and build a real community with the contributors.
I salute NAB for a clever use of social media and for being the first bank to adopt such an approach. Nevertheless, I can't help but want more from this initiative: I would have loved to see the bank engaging with the Australian people and urging them for instance to share their experience via a 60 sec video or a short post and collect and leverage this content somewhere (I believe the micro-site would do well).
Loads of short conversations are happening on twitter, but the tweets are not structured (they use the popular hashtag #breakup which taga tweets on relationships, dating sometimes sexual encounters...) and the popular micro-blogging service is not a destination like facebook. Moreover NAB's facebook page is currently not built to capture, centralize and sustain meaningful conversations.
Will the Competition Step Up
I'm also curious to find out how the other Australian banks will respond to this initiative and if this war of words will become their "compelling event" to really embrace social media. If it helps the industry realize the importance of online conversations, customer engagement and transparency, and become more social media aware and savvy, then great.
Social Media for PR / Marketing Push
But I'm concerned that from now on financial institutions see social media as a formidable (PUSH) PR / Marketing tool to launch more successful online campaigns. Social media is much more than that, and I hope we won't see again what happened to linkedin 4-5 years ago: now, most people see the great business networking tool as a mere tool to find a job. Linkedin is much more than that, so don't get me started!
Transparency, Banking & Social Media
Most tweeps talking about "the Break Up" see NAB as transparent and innovative following its launch, and I personally think it is a very clever marketing campaign, but I'd like to put things into perspective and remind my fellow social media and digital enthusiasts of some other market defining, transparent, initiatives in the social media space such as the Wells Fargo Wachovia Blog to cover the sensitive merger, Peter Aceto's active presence on twitter (Peter is the President & CEO of ING Direct Canada), Webank's own crowdsourcing initiative "the Wepad Project".
So according to you, how does this initiative compare?
I have a few other thoughts:
* What's next for "the Break Up": this is a marketing campaign which means that it is not here to stay for ever. I'm keen to find out how the bank plans to use all the feedback shared online, and if they plan to take this initiative to the next level and create, engage and REWARD a community of inlfuencers. And this time fully leverage the power of social media.
* Demonstrates the importance of building a SM platform: NAB started on twitter just over 6 months ago, and the bank has been on youtube since 2005. This demonstrates the importance of building your social media presence asap to build your audiences and leverage your assets whenever you are ready.
I stressed the importance of this approach in my my recent post 10-Step Strategy to Sail Through a Crisis Thanks to Social Media (slides and links of my recent presentation in Hong Kong).
* Set up new, and higher, expectations for NAB: now NAB is the bank to beat in the australian social media space. How will the bank respond to this status? I guess they started to demonstrate their commitment with a new facebook page for students and a new $15m package for customers affected by the recent natural disasters...
YouTube Videos - 10,000+ Views
Please find below the most popular videos produced by the bank as part of "the Break Up" campaign.
The break up letter that explains it all.
NAB leave a mark on Westpac's windows
NAB catches ANZ out at sea
NAB ambushes CommBank long lunch
Related articles on Visible-Banking.com
* NAB Starts Tweeting & Asks Australians to Share their Stories of Goodness (video)
* UBank Launches their Time Capsule to Celebrate their Anniversary and Asks People to Upload Content (video)
* The Wells Fargo - Wachovia Blog: social media can also support a banking merger
* The Wepad Project: Italy's Webank Invites 6 Experts (and You) to Help Them Create in 6 Weeks the Best iPad Application for Banking
* 2010's Top 10 Most Liked Financial Institutions on Facebook
* 2010's Top 10 Most Followed Financial Institutions on Twitter
* Visible Banking Directory: Social Media in Financial Services