Banks Need To Understand Social Media

Social Media Influence

Brett King has posted some example of banks struggling to understand and respond to social media, with HSBC, Bank Of America and ANZ the culprits.

The banks were criticised online by customers who had received poor service or had services removed, but they failed to take decisive action, action which could have allowed them to put their side of the story across and potentially placated the complainants (and more importantly, stopped the spread of the bad press).

King himself was one of those complaining:

Based on my regular Blog readings and traffic I could expect around 30-50,000 people to read my article, so I suspected word would get back to them fairly quickly and then I could theorized that I would be able to sing HSBC’s praises about their responsiveness to my problem via the blogosphere and Twitter. Unfortunately, no one but the innovation team who follow my Twitter feed was listening. So…they passed it up the chain. What happened next? Nothing…

At least they were monitoring the situation. In the other cases, there was no indication that they had any sort of reputation monitoring in place, so they could quickly respond. Reputation monitoring  should be a must-have for any marketing team now.

Even a basic Google Alert or Twitter search could be a good place to start, and cost nothing.

Companies do need to be careful about wading into social media and getting it wrong – there’s nothing worse than a company misjudging the response to a complaint and making things worse.

But a well thought through response allows a company to have some control over the conversation. Without any response, they have no control on how the problem might develop and spread.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Intersection Consulting

3 thoughts on “Banks Need To Understand Social Media

  1. This doesn’t surprise me at all. The banks treat the average customer with pure disdain, we are just a number to make money out of. Social media will eventually make the banks change their ways. As you said in your post there was a possible 50,000 people reading your blog – not an insignificant number. This could have easily snowballed into millions via social media. I don’t think the banks actually understand the power of social media and poor service, bad products and miss selling will be all over the social media networks like a rash.
    No doubt when the do cotton on they will then use the social media environment for propaganda and guerilla marketing.
    Good on you for highlighting this.

  2. I’m not entirely convinced this is a fair reflection of the banks involvement or understanding of social media. I’ve worked with a few of them and there is a willingness to get involved even if it as the ‘listening’ end of the scale. I think they struggle with where social media should sit within their organisations – PR, Marketing, IT even. They may be late to the party but I do see enthusiasm being shown by for example HSBC for I have worked for.

  3. Ashley,

    I like your enthusiasm, but from my experience in talking to very senior people in HSBC they see social media largely as a threat to their established branding methodology. The problem for HSBC is that they don’t like a media mechanism where they can’t control the message. They’re not alone.

    This is a shift in mentality and philosophy. One from broadcasting messages so that brand recall is reinforced, to listening and engaging customers on their Turf. This is where social media is extremely powerful. Most banks are just not there yet.


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