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Tracking the consumer evolution of financial services

Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

A social business definition from Clearlyso

If there is a word that bothers me, it is the word ‘social’.  It is often quickly followed by the word community.  Over the last 5 years you are no-one unless you have a social aspect and a community.  Some have gone to great lengths in an effort to properly define social in a meaningful way.  However to this day, it remains hard to frame the context of social in a business way, and especially for existing businesses such as banks and financial institutions.  I certainly is not by having a PR managed twitter account. 

I raise all this again after meeting today with the nice people from clearlyso located at CSI in Toronto. is the Canadian arm of a UK group and launch is coming soon!  Our conversation was related to communitylend, but that’s not for here.  Clearlyso has definition of social business that makes sense to me.  In fact I raised it here and here in the context of regulation, and here in the context of meaningful social capital.

Yet this all becomes hazy when I look at real businesses and attempt to evaluate them based on being ‘social’. 

So it was refreshing to see someone lay a line in the sand and outline a simple definition. 

A social business definition |

A social business is one which integrates two objectives:

  • A commercial objective: To achieve and increase profits and realise growth (like any traditional business) and…
  • A social (and ethical and environmental) objective: As set out in our list of social benefits, found in the search box on the company directory.

A social business can be large or small, a start-up or an established player, it can take any legal form (CICs, co-ops, Ltd companies, and so on) and can operate in most industrial sectors (it’s difficult to imagine a social arms manufacturer/trader)

In summary a socially oriented company is one that is doing good, and not doing evil. 

  • Customers are right until proven wrong
  • making profits from inherently devious and fake products such as derivatives is evil
  • taking TARP money on false pretenses is evil and it turns out illegal
  • forcing call time that drives revenue and does not allow the customer choice is evil, driving ‘thin value’

Why is it that on the banking side, I have more evil than good?  That’s not good. 

The definition of social has finally transcended the fact of hosting a forum, or engaging in twitter/ FaceBook/ blog comments.  No.  Rather it is a fundamental requirement in the business objective of the company that sees business profits to be made while people perceive real value, both financially, ethically and morally.

Written by Colin Henderson

February 5, 2010 at 00:02

The Social Media Myth |

In one of the clearest pieces on social media, Michelle covers it well in this white paper entitled The Social Media Myth. My favourite quote, and an initial hint as to the content.

Because people don’t go on social networking sites to hear your pitch – people go on social networking sites to talk to their friends!

She answers the question on what is the one thing you need to know.  I won’t steal the reports thunder, so you can download and read for yourself, and I do recommend it to all banks.  As a hint, it differentiates beteen building link credibility and building personal credibility.  Marketers who read this, must keep an open mind because it requires new skill sets, and much of what is required here is not a requirement for marketing departments, and will engage other departments.   There are useful things here that all banks can participate in, no matter your cultural issues.

Written by Colin Henderson

February 2, 2009 at 11:43

Bank of America making more significant moves in social media

As noted on the BofA Future Banking blog, they are now also seeking out customers, or others needing assistance on twitter.  This is consequential stuff for a Bank.  Here are a few sample twits.  User names masked here.  Clearly something has taken hold at BofA that is setting them apart from most others, and moving them into Wells Fargo territory.  Interesting stuff, and other Banks take note.

Bank of America on twitter

@_______ Can you send me a DM with your contact information? I’ll give you a call to see what we can do. Thanks!”

Lock yesterday at 1:25 pm – Comment HideMore
“@________ I work for B of A, were you able to get it resolved? Anything I can do to help?”

Written by Colin Henderson

January 15, 2009 at 16:44

Wells Fargo first to use social media to help with a major merger

Wells Fargo have started a new blog that is the first example of a large company to use social media to help with a major merger and product integration of this size. They believe it is a great platform to introduce the Wachovia customer to Wells Fargo, many of whom aren’t familiar with Wells and I agree.

This from the first post by John Stumpf, president and CEO of Wells Fargo & Company.

The Wells Fargo – Wachovia Blog

One way we’ll keep you updated on what’s happening with the integration of Wachovia and Wells Fargo is through this blog. Here we’ll share news and information, and you can “join the conversation” and let us know along the way how we’re doing and what we can do better to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Written by Colin Henderson

January 4, 2009 at 21:46

ShoreBank blog – excellent example of a bank blog

Corporate blogging is hard.   Blogs can have the corporate name but the content needs to be personalised.  Its a tough balance.  Readers have to believe and credibility must be established.  Multiple authors is another hard one.

Well ShoreBank manage both extremely well.  I came across their blog in reflections on Net Finance.

The lead contributer is the bank economist, and SVP of Investments which obviously offers a broad background.  His contributions are balanced by other authors focussed on more retail oriented topics such as budgetting and mortgages. 

Not a bad start.

ShoreBank:  Lets change the world

David Oser is ShoreBank’s Senior Vice President of Investments and Chief Economist. He is also a member of ShoreBank’s senior management team. David has been employed by ShoreBank since 1976, during which time the bank has grown from less than $100 million to more than $2.3 billion in total assets. He manages fixed income investment portfolios for ShoreBank and its affiliates as well as for outside institutional clients, and has more than $600 million in assets under his management. David serves on the Risk Management Committees of the corporation and subsidiary banks and has consulted both in the U.S. and abroad. He received a BA from Carleton College and an MA from the University of Chicago.
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Written by Colin Henderson

November 3, 2008 at 22:16

The social media conversation at a bank near you

Ron raises an important and fundamental point here. As a Bank what is the approach to incorporate social media into you business strategy?

Twitter / rshevlin: @edolan FIs do NOT need a S…

@edolan FIs do NOT need a SM strategy. they need to figure out how SM fits with (or chgs) their biz strategy. Big difference.

7 minutes ago from twhirl in reply to edolan

First off I accept that the end goal is a business strategy that includes all appropriate components. However trying to fit a social media strategy into the overall business strategy would truly be trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, and here is why.

Traditional business strategy at the Bank is probably based on a set of goals and objectives like increased share of wallet, focus on certain segments, fast follower, product leader, integrated channel management, etc, blah blah, etc. Those goals will translate into sets of tactics and initiatives.

This is where it falls down. By incorporating SM into the strategy without first understanding it and defining it assures us that it must first get a lable that can be applied from the existing strategy. The conversation with the product guy (PG), marketing guy (MG), and technology guy (TG) will be something like this. btw, this contains actual examples, but identities are hidden to protect the innocent:

  • PG; where is this SM?
  • Me; it everywhere man … its online
  • PG; oh so its in online banking?
  • ME; not exactly, it might be in Facebook
  • TG; are you a lunatic? Thats not 128 bit secure
  • Me; well, we won’t actually sell it there, we will talk to people and have conversations
  • MG; are you a lunatic? What about our brand. People won’t see our logo!
  • PG; I don’t get it. Where do you want me to sell it again?
  • Me; [trying vainly] our SM will have multiple facets, including eg, a blog, a product design wiki, a data analysis tool using the Wesabe API, we will be lending on, talking in the forums, seeking customer advocates in all the social media sites and ….. [cut off]
  • TG; are you a lunatic!! Those are not secure. Maybe we could do an RSS feed. [turning to the MG] I have a team working on them, and should be ready in 2010, if we can just get that darned XML to be less than 4 Megabytes
  • Me; can we go back to SM and how we fit it into the strategy
  • MG; are you a lunatic!! How can we control the message
  • PG; where do you want me to sell it? And whats an RSS feed?
  • TG; we have an internal policy on blogs. It has been reviewed by 85 people so far and getting close to completion. We will be advising the CEO that we avoid blogs. Too risky. One guy in marketing started one internally, and we had to shut down our people from commenting on it. Phew that was a close one!
  • PG; where do you want me to sell it?
  • Me; home for a Laphroaig

Written by Colin Henderson

July 17, 2008 at 11:02

examples of banks as leaders in web 2.0 ??

I was reading this interesting post from Cindy, when it really caught my attention with this point made near the end!

Innovation and Transformation Wings: Social Networking : Good for Business or Not?

At this stage in the Canadian landscape there are some leaders in developing innovative Web 2.0 approaches in companies like: Bell Canada, MTS Allstream, Royal Bank of Canada, TD Canada Trust, and early days for Bank of Nova Scotia and CIBC as well.

I am pretty familiar with RBC’s efforts, at least on the customer external facing web, but not at all with CIBC, TD, BNS, or CIBC, as upcoming posts will review. Anyone care to help me out, with examples of what those banks are doing in a social/ web 2.0 context? Especially if it is internal and staff use only, some examples would be very useful.

Written by Colin Henderson

July 5, 2008 at 14:53

When will web 2.0 meet reality?

This is an important article in todays FT, that is summarised well in this first paragraph. / Companies / Media & internet – Web 2.0 fails to produce cash

Many members of the Web 2.0 generation of internet companies have so far produced little in the way of revenue, despite bringing about some significant changes in online behaviour, according to some of the entrepreneurs and financiers behind the movement.

The idea of web 2.0 germinated shortly after the crash that happened in 1999 / 2000. Three things have happened since then, at the macro level:

  1. the rise of the social web
  2. the rise of new web based tools, and a shift away from PC based tools
  3. the rise of advertising as a model, with Google being the poster child

What is highlighted in the FT article is that web 2.0 has not produced any new business models of consequence. There has been talk to SaaS (Software as a Service) but so far just talk. It seems ludicrous to suggest that an entire economy would shift from a diversified revenue model to one of advertising, yet many web 2.0 guru’s still speak as if that day is coming. The consensus in Silicon Valley appears to be that advertsing is the only means of making money in the future.

Its time for a wake up call in terms of how web based companies and that includes Banks online, would make money in the ‘new economy’ if there is in fact such a thing. I know from personal experience with CommunityLend that building a service in that is web based, and that challenges the norms, requires to address regulatory needs for example, and it is hard work.

The article speaks about the expectation, espoused in the recent Charlene Li/ Josh Bernoff book, Groundswell, that the holy grail lies in making the connection between the social graph, and personalised advertising.

At the start of the decade, Google struggled to find a suitable way to
make money from search before alighting on the keyword advertising that
has underpinned its fortune. A similar hunt for forms of advertising
that suit the social media – where users want to engage with each
other, not corporate brands – has proved difficult. By common consent,
the key to commercial success lies in co-opting the crowd, though few
have so far succeeded.

A key hindrance to the above, is that people interact in social media because they want to not because they want to be advertised to. Back to the work at CommunityLend, making the link between social connections, and economics is complex, and introduces many nuances that have not been previously encountered. More to come on that.

Written by Colin Henderson

May 27, 2008 at 11:42

The internet and consumer choice | PEW

PEW have a new study that focusses on three purchases – music, cellphones, homes, and offers some conclusions about the role of internet in those purchases.

Pew Internet: The internet and consumer choice

WASHINGTON DC – The internet plays an important role in how people conduct research for purchases, but it is just one among a variety of sources people use and usually not the key factor in final purchasing decisions.

The report predictably concludes that people use many methods to evaluate purchases, and that internet is a cornerstone of research, particularly where product complexity is involved.

One of the conclusions, participation, noted that it is rare for consumers to rate their purchases afterwards. That has consequences for many in terms of how they hoped to design the social web.

Written by Colin Henderson

May 19, 2008 at 11:16

Posted in Loyalty, Social Media

Social media is a very targeted approach | Wells Fargo & RBC

Good article here on Banks and Social Media. Earlier references here on niches, and the importance of Gen Y focus.  Understanding those concepts, helps to get inside the minds of leaders such as Wells Fargo, and RBC and why they are creating new interactions with people online.

Bank Systems & Technology : Banks Are Creating a New Kind of Customer Intimacy With Web 2.0 and Social Networking

“Social media is a very targeted approach,” says Tim Collins, SVP of experiential marketing at San Francisco-based Wells Fargo. “There are what we describe as ‘interested communities’ — it could be anything from people who are focusing on what to do in their retirement, which obviously would skew a little older, to what concerts they may want to see this weekend, and that might skew a little younger. Each one of them is a very targeted endeavor, so there is not any broad audience.

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Written by Colin Henderson

November 2, 2007 at 07:52

Posted in Social Media

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