In the last two years the Spanish banking industry as a whole has been one the most active in the social media space worldwide: from the leading global banks like BBVA, domestic banks like Banco Sabadell, or regional saving banks like Caja Navarra or Caja Madrid.
Let’s focus on the saving banks here, ‘the Cajas’: “In Spain, savings banks or cajas are private financial institutions organized as foundations. When they were first created, their main identifying features were their concern for saving, focus on the poorer classes, concentration in a geographical area, and allocation of a significant part of their profits to social and charity projects.” (source: wikipedia)
The Spanish Cajas: the Champions of Social Projects & Social Media
Spanish Cajas are legally obliged to take part to social activities and charitable work. As you would expect, they put a lot of focus on their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) effort. Most of them quickly understood the importance and the value to leverage social media to give more visibility to their initiative and build long term relationship with all the persons actively involved or interested.
Caja Navarra achieved ‘worldwide fame’ when they launched their Civic Banking strategy based on transparency and customer engagement, Caja Madrid is very active online with their Obra Social communities.
Caja Mediterraneo Taps into Foursquare to Increase and Reward Visits
On December 31st Gerardo Prieto, Community Manager at Caja Mediterráneo, contacted me to inform me of the initiative on Foursquare the bank launched last month.
At this stage, the bank invites people to check in at about 20 locations in 10 cities along the beautiful ‘Costa Blanca’. Do you know that part of Spain? I strongly recommend Moraira and its surrounding!
Locations are: Caja Mediterraneo’s classrooms, exhibition halls, libraries and CEMACAM, Centers Mediterranean Environment Fund.
If you are the major of the location at the end of the month, the bank will give you a prize which could be books, tickets, DVDs.
On January 3rd, Caja Mediterraneo announced the first 8 winners on its blog. In addition to giving them some kind of prize, the bank gave them visibility in the form of a link to their foursquare profile.
Those first winners got a copy of the second edition of ‘The Spanish Phantom’, a book for charity costing 18 € which will help fund the project ‘The Value of Children‘ of the NGO ‘Save the Children’.
This is a good move from CAM. It doesn’t take much resources at all and they became one of the very first banks to adopt such a mobile location based approach focused on CSR. You would expect some positive buzz online and some good local, potentially international, press and blog coverage.
The approach based on social and charity is spot on! I believe it’s going to be challenging to urge banking clients to come to their branch more often: why would people do that? If popular, does a bank really want to increase the waiting time in their branch network? Success would lie in your ability to somehow target branches with a low volume of visits, and find a compelling reward.
Here we are not talking about banking or financial products, but doing something useful to the community and helping people. So in this case, maybe the reward is not so important: I doubt I’d visit a museum more to be given a book, would you?
Most of the twenty-something locations doesn’t have anymore than a couple of check-ins which could be explained by the limited:
* take up of foursquare on the Spanish East Coast
* promotion from the bank.
Next step for CAM is to promote this innovative initiative more, if not on their website, internet banking, mails / emails to their clients, at least on all their social media assets. I suggest they upload a short video on their YouTube channel, send more frequent updates on twitter, and create a dedicated tab on their facebook page and post on their wall more often.
Financial Institutions on Foursquare
Caja Mediterraneo is not the first financial institutions to tap into foursquare:
* a few banks uploaded all their branches (among them, US’s 1st Mariner Bank 7-8 months ago, Sweden’s SEB at the end of last year),
* in the US North Shore Bank, Embrace Pet Insurance and Circle Banks implemented some kind of reward programmes for their mayors,
* Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union used the service to drive donations…