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.
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.
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.
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