eMarketing Reflections

Articles Book reviews Case studies In a Nutshell    

Commonwealth bank’s Facebook strategy: social media success or common marketing
January 2012

Based on article:
How to kick start your social media strategy – Commonwealth bank focusses on Facebook”,
CIO Magazine, January 16th, 2012

I was pleasantly surprised by an article in CIO magazine on the 16th of January (http://bit.ly/yRBaI0) about Commonwealth bank's social media program. The article opens with the statement that the bank is using its Facebook account to "...create a community of customers and interact with them…" with the aim to increase customer support. This might still be the case for Commonwealth bank, but to my disappointment the rest of the article then shows some of the same mistakes most companies in Australia make when using social media: use this innovative medium for out-dated marketing campaigns.

Engage with customers instead of gathering fans
Let's take a look at the success story. The first statement is that the bank has attracted 100,000 'fans' to its Facebook page. This looks like a big success, but attracting less than 2% of your customers to a new communication channel that about two thirds of them are already using for other reasons is not that big a success, especially as having 'fans' by itself does not add any value to the bank. However, 20% of those fans engage with the bank through the Facebook account and that is where Commonwealth could make a difference.

Nothing new
So, how does Commonwealth engage with those 20,000 fans? That is where the article became a disappointment. The main use the bank has for the Facebook page is to give away gifts for opening an account with the bank, have competitions and let fans help decide where charity funds should be spent. At the end of the article it is shortly mentioned that the channel is also used to answer questions from customers, which to my idea should have been mentioned as first and most important reason for using this channel.
Now, I have no idea how much the emphasize on certain aspects of the Commonwealth Facebook use in this article is placed by the bank itself or by the writer of the article, but as it is written now, it promotes the use of old-fashioned marketing campaigns on a new medium, instead of using the power of that medium to grow business.

Social business
Where social media can make a difference is by engaging with the bank's clients to deliver the best service possible; constantly improving that service with the help of that client, improving the relationship between the clients and the bank and thus improving client retention. Going even further Commonwealth could use the channel to integrate the customers fully into the process of building a better business. This is not done by giving away prizes for competitions, as customers do not choose for and stay with a bank for the prizes they can win; not by talking about cricket, as this is not the main business of the bank; and not by using a customer service channel like social media to try to sell more (get people to open new accounts). A truly social business will move away from marketing and sales in social media and turn it into a strong customer service and business development tool.

Social media





Some examples of social media and social media marketing campaigns that caught my attention:

United breaks guitars
Still an excellent example of how social media can damage a companies reputation and how this tends to stay for a long time.


Follow me on Twitter
Find me on LinkedIn
RSS Feed


Privacy statement Terms of Use Contact me Sitemap Copyright ©Jeroen Hoekman