REDIRECTING TO VISIBLEBANKING.COM
On 4th February 2012, we turned 5 on that date, I announced the imminent launch of the 'Visible Banking Stars' programme and the total redesign of Visible-Banking.com.
After William Trout from BBVA Compass (US) and Daniel Gusev from PSBank (Russia), I am delighted to officially announce our Visible Banking Star number 3, Jose Antonio Gallego - Social Media Manager at BBVA (Spain). I've known Jose Antonio for quite some time now, and I very much look forward to reading his exclusive articles on Visible Banking.
I invite you to read his very first contribution, translated from Spanish to English, 'Banks must have a social media presence'.
In the last few years, I have covered many social media initiatives from Jose Antonio and his colleagues at BBVA in Spain, such as the bank's crowdfunding's experiments 'BBVA Friends and Family' and 'BBVA Suma'. I invite you to watch my oldishn but still relevant, video interview with Jose Antonio.
Please find below Jose Antonio's first official contribution (in Spanish) on the Visible Banking blog.
But I do want to raise some questions about how banks and other big brands are using social media.
There is a kind of "thinking" that argues that blogs, social networks, forums, wikis, etc. are changing the world. What is a "disruptive phenomenon" and since millions of people around the world spend more time on those social media channels, all our decisions, including purchase, take place on those networks. In fact, I assume my share of blame for this "thinking", even though not always intentional.
And this is a mistake: the Internet and social media have influenced (a lot) how I make a living today, how much access I have to culture, how I interact with my friends and family, spend my spare time, how I educate my daughter. They also help more and more people to fall in love and start a family. But it has an impact on the number of broken families too.
Their influence in other areas or needs one might have such as "how to choose the right car to buy", "which financial institution to bank with" or "which soda to drink" is also signifivcant.
Nevertheless, some examples and facts show that at least in the financial sector the influence of social media is still far from being significant:
Consider this list of the world's largest banks in 2008 by market capitalization. Now compare it with the current 2012 list.
In these four years the growth of social networking users has been exponential, from being a phenomenon of "early adopters" to something massive and totally mainstream. However, if we observe the changes at the world's largest banks in these four years, we see little -if nothing at all- influence of social media. Yes one can point out the political and economic changes and the global crisis, which have increased the influence of China and Brazil against Europe.
Extending the scope: of the 100 largest companies in the world, very few made the Top 100 thanks to social media. Let me be more specific. If a company anywhere in the world has suffered a crisis in the social media space that is Nestlé, through the great campaign launched by Greenpeace in 2010 against its flagship product, KitKat bars. The company was completely overwhelmed at the impact and the virality of the video.
But, to what extent this campaign was a real problem for Nestlé? Not that this campaign had no influence on his financial results and P&L, it certainly had a negative impact, but it has not stopped the company from being the most profitable company in the world in 2011. Therefore, one has to weigh the influence of this social media campaign.
It is important to remember that social media channels created by the users, for the users, have their own set of rules, and advertising there is hardly accepted or simply ignored.
On social networks people talk with their circle of contacts of the topics that interest them, and this probably excludes 99% of global brands. The remaining 1% (mostly related to leisure, clothing brands, movies, artists, gadgets ...) of the conversations rarely have to do with what marketeers claim. Nobody says "since I bought some Nike, I'm Michael Jordan" but "what model of footwear would you recommend to play basketball?"
The brands that succeed in these conversations do not only have an efficient social media strategy, but they actually provide a high level of customer service, which is highly rated and appreciated by their customers.
This is not to say that it is useless to a design an appropriate strategy in social media. Quite the opposite. I am simply saying that the key to success in social media is measured by an increased level of customer satisfaction thanks to the service we provide.
For example: Salman Rushdie is a writer who spends time himself on social media. He has a very active twitter account where he talks to his readers on various topics from litterature to television series. His proactive approach has forced even Facebook to change its policy towards "real names". This attitude will win him more readers, and loyalty from his regular readers, starting with myself. In fact, I received a thank you message from him when I called him the "Chuck Norris of litterature". But the essence of his success is that it is a genius writer, and he sells books.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, perhaps because of his age, does not have any social media presence. Moreover, it was not until a few days ago, coinciding with his 85th birthday, which is more and more in adequation with his book, "One Hundred Years of Solitude". He doesn't talk to your fans, he does not care about his digital presence... But anyway, the lovers of litterature speak of him greatly and regularly. He is one of the most important writers in history and this is how people talk about him on social networks.
Now consider a kind of "writer" very common lately: he knows how to promote his books on social media. In some cases he is "self-published". Generally his work can be downloaded for free or at nominal cost in digital format, tapping into the freemium trend. Knowing how to get media presence, involving "celebrities" to promote his work, he knows how to make you mention him and he is present in all digital forums on litterature. However, despite the sympathy aroused, his books are mediocre. You think he would be better off if he had invested all that energy to read more and write more carefully.
Business matters are similar. Starbucks does a very good job in social media and they are driving business through excellent digital engagement with their fans. Zara has ignored the phenomenon for too long and now the Spanish brand is struggling to catch up on social networks. They are wasting an opportunity to significantly grow their business, despite the fact that million of people everyday are sharing their thoughts and love for clothes on the likes of facebook or twitter.
Before launching a poor social media presence, characterised by monologues with very limited engagement, mobile operators or bakeries in my neighborhood should strive to offer quality products that satisfy their customers who are the ones who share their personal experience on social media channels.
In my opinion, another point that is overvalued is the customer service on social networks. At a recent banking and financial services event, I have heard colleagues from other financial institutions boasting about a client because his travel in Japan is a cash card was swallowed up at 3 am, and via twitter might help you in minutes. In my opinion this is a wrong strategy.
Which companies could be considered "winners" in the area of social media? Twitter, Facebook, Apple, Google, Instagram, Pinterest...? Have you tried to "scream" on social media channels that the new iPhone is not a good product? If someone answers, it will surely be of the mobile operator who sold you the phone (dealer), but not Apple. Have you ever tried to contact someone at Facebook or Twitter to share your problem as a user? It is mission impossible. Same with Google.
No, paradoxically none of the leading digital companies provide any decent level of customer care on social media channels.
And conventional companies that do so are due to fail resulting from their traditional customer service channels. A customer must be given the best service whenever the transaction occurs, whether he is in a shop, at a branch or on the web. This is precisely when the consumer does not find an answer in these channels that he goes to the "public square" to express his anger. The energies used in calming clients on twitter should be invested in avoiding those frustrations in the first place, wherever they occurred.
As I say I'm a fan of social media, but I think (as opposed to marketing) that engaging in social media conversations won't lead anywhere if your products or services are poor. The successful financial institutions are the ones which will focus on important matters such as safety, professionalism, innovation, profitability or customer service.
Every social media strategy should be based on them, or face the risk to quickly become worthless.
More on the Author: Jose Antonio Gallego
Social media manager at Grupo BBVA, Founder and president of Aerco-Psm (social media professionals association in Spain with more than 2k members). Advisor at Forumclinic.com, virtual community for chronic patients by Hospital Clinic from Barcelona.BA in economics and executive master at IE Business School.
Connect with Jose Antonio: Twitter - Linkedin - Facebook - Blog
We at Visible Banking would be delighted to help you and your team better UNDERSTAND and LEVERAGE social media in a strategic yet pragmatic way.
So please don't hesitate to call me, send me an email or DM me (@Visible_Banking ) to book a meeting and talk about twitter, facebook, crowdsourcing, customer reviews, social media & social commerce in banking, financial services and insurance.
Other Articles of Interest on Visible-Banking.com
* All my posts related to Twitter
* All my posts related to Facebook
* Visible Banking Directory: Social Media in Financial Services
* Visible Banking Social Media Watch Series (Twitter, Facebook, Blogs)