The Bankwatch

Tracking the consumer evolution of financial services

Netfinance2007 meeting notes – Vancity

William Azaroff – Vancity

My take:  their site is a branding play, and complements their overall business strategy.  It levers the lower of local, yet is an ideal online vehicle.  Its also a flexible enough platform to provide enormous opportunity for Vancity in the future, provided they maintain the integrity of the community spirit, and no-one understands that better than William.

  • Some comments on Vancity that are relevant before we talk about the social network
  • 2nd most trusted organisation in BC
  • Triple bottom line – fiscal, social, environmental
  • Social network is about brand differentiation, not about product
  • typical bank – banners ads to microsite (Not another Microsite)NAMS)- boring (editor – agreed!)
  • Trust is the killer app
  • showed some examples, that we have seen in this blog before, such as HSBC, Windsor CU, but one new one (to me) from Intuit.  A wiki with user generated content, about tax
  • full launch Sept 2006, after 3 month invited trial
  • Stats:
    • 45K unique
    • 1K registered
    • 2K posts
  • theme – “what would you change”
  • fits with overall Vancity business strategy who have a theme of change, enviro products etc
  • Adds punch to offline ads
  • what do Vancity get from the site:  “we get on the consideration list”
  • success from being local
    • “Got Hats” –
    • 1 post
    • 3 volunteers
    • 4K items donated for homeless people during an unusual cold snap
    • 50% increase in regd users
    • traffic 10X
    • local and national media press
  • first 500 members set the tone
  • Killer quote to Banks considering this:
  • “when you are thinking about anything like this, before you look in the monitor, look in the mirror”

    Written by Colin Henderson

    April 20, 2007 at 11:29

    Posted in Uncategorized

    16 Responses

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    1. Love that quote. So true.

      Ed Terpening, Wells Fargo

      April 20, 2007 at 17:13

    2. Thanks for the mention. Glad to finally meet you!

      William Azaroff

      April 20, 2007 at 18:30

    3. By the way, that quote is from the always impressively insightful Rob Cottingham at Social Signal.

      Ed, in my presentation at Net.Finance I mentioned many of the things you folks at Wells are up to. Thanks for the inspiration.

      William Azaroff

      April 20, 2007 at 19:10

    4. regarding the quote… maybe they HAVE looked in the mirror… and that’s why there are no banks (except one) blogging.


      April 20, 2007 at 19:58

    5. I’m not so sure based on all the people who came up to me from the banks interested in social media and blogging. There is interest and also so much fear.

      I also like this quote: “All social web projects are inherently authentic.” If the company is not being genuine then neither will the project be.

      William Azaroff

      April 20, 2007 at 20:06

    6. I was being facetious. I wouldn’t be surprised if the threats of “what’s the ROI?” and “who’s going to fund this?” are what’s keeping many banks away.


      April 21, 2007 at 09:37

    7. @Ron .. I would add to your two things, the fear of brand degradation.
      Re ROI: the thing that really struck me about day 4, “innovation day”, was that many of the the traditional bankers had gone home. A future blog post might be on the topic of organization, and who ought to be responsible for what. Current org structures does not require Product folks to attend “Day 4”, yet they are the ones in control in most Banks, because of ROI (feel free to contradict that statement).
      The most striking slide of the conference for me was Asaf from Jupiter, showing that Banks have lost most products with the exception of checking accounts. Looking forward to getting my hands on that slide.


      April 21, 2007 at 23:53

    8. I honestly don’t get it. Worried about “brand degradation”? Degradation from what? The stellar reputations they have in the marketplace today?

      Are they worried that a blog will become one big “bitch session” for their customers? Twitter has proven that there a lot of people with way too much time on their hands, but come on — people have better things to do than just bitch about their bank on the bank’s blog site. The credit unions who have blogs aren’t perfect and their sites aren’t infested with complaining members.

      I really think what’s keeping most large banks away from blogging is ignorance. And I can’t help but believe that the people that William ran into at the conference are part of a small minority.


      April 22, 2007 at 09:19

    9. Ignorance is likely the root cause, real reason, yet a survey in Finextra a few weeks ago cited brand as a concern.


      April 22, 2007 at 15:15

    10. I think your all comments are all right. Talking to banks we’ve seen many hurdles to overcome:

      – Executive buy in; was it Shari Storm from Verity Credit Union who said they did it without telling anyone? And got away with it. It would probably get you fired at Citi.
      – Ownership; who owns it and have overview; mktg? PR? … Legal’s overview?
      – Brand; Every bank is afraid of social because it may potentialy hurt their brand (could they drop further?). Vancity did it right and what a positive impact for the brand they got (even if it’s indirect). Could I join Vancity from Montreal? Bravo William!

      Overall I think banks with weak brands would only get weaker because opening this gate would only make it worst. I wouild advice them to clean up their transparency and trust issues first. Then join the bandwagon. At best try to do both in parallel. Be proactive.


      April 22, 2007 at 15:45

    11. Sorry Ron, I missed the sarcasm. It’s true, many people came up to me, but many more had gone home. It’s too bad because it was actually the most impressive day of the whole coference.

      Great comment about brand degradation, it’s not like most banks have a whole lot to lose.

      William Azaroff

      April 23, 2007 at 09:07

    12. Just to ring in here with a thought from someone who went home early Thursday (mostly because I had to remind my family who I was…).

      I think a good chunk of the reason the traditional bankers left was due to general ignorance of the Social Media phenomenom’s impact, as well as maybe not the most effective conference marketing of that day’s real relevance. I for one am sorry I had to leave – but am thankful for the openness of folks like William and Shari for sharing their insights so willingly.

      Ted Josephson

      April 27, 2007 at 07:18

    13. […] recent discussion on Bankwatch helps to highlight the potential danger here. Regarding the Social Networking portion of the recent […]

    14. Hi Ted, thanks for the comment. Glad to see you in the blogosphere…

      William Azaroff

      April 29, 2007 at 16:35

    15. Banks fear of social media is a percentage game in my mind. The bigger and older you are, the better the chances are that you’ve upset some customers along the way. At the same time, bigger and older also often means that you’ve lost touch with your customers and I think there’s tremendous opportunity for banks to leverage social media/blogs to better understand their customers needs.
      Colin – was great meeting you at Net Finance.


      April 30, 2007 at 14:32

    16. Hi William – I’m enjoying following the various postings and musings out here!

      Not so coincidently, I’m actively working on my own executive team to educate them a bit more on the whole Social Media space – and am happily grabbing thoughts from your presentation, Michael’s and Shari’s and a number of the blog postings to craft what is hopefully an educational, motivating and “only controlled-fear-inducing” proposal. Thanks to all for being so open with your thoughts!

      Ted Josephson

      May 1, 2007 at 07:18

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