Social networks and services like linkedin, facebook or twitter help us connect with strangers and build relationships with people from all over the world. It enables us to identify the people we’d like to meet and enables warmer connections (vs cold). It revolutionized the way we look for job, and our ability to create opportunities with limited resources (people, time, budget).
Telephone is good and Skype (video) is excellent, but nothing will ever replace a hand shake and meeting in person. And it such a pleasure to meet someone you’ve been following and interacting with online for months or years.
I’ve always been an advocate of leveraging social media to support your traditional offline activities, and promote your social media activities in the offline world.
Brands aim to connect with us on sites like facebook or twitter. More and more leading FMCG brands add a call to action to their traditional ads (TV or press) to drive traffic to a website or a facebook page. I find it fascinating: they direct people to a social network, not their ecommerce site. That is progress, isn’t it?
If we leave aside HSBC which used to mention yourpointofview.com on all its banner ads at airports back in 2007, and OPEN Forum by American Express which I believe gave last year some visibility to its excellent OPEN Forum community for SMEs, this is not the case in financial services… just yet. Indeed, this would take a leap of faith to any large bank or insurance firm.
You also need to keep in mind that very few financial institutions do the basics and promote their social media presence on their own website, even the chatty and transparent Wells Fargo – Wachovia, so you imagine on TV….
No Social Media Promotion on TV, But what about the branches?
Having said that, last month I was walking on 6th street in Austin Texas (yes, walking!) when I came across a BBVA Compass branch which took me by surprise: the bank displayed a huge banner outside inviting the street passers to connect and become a friend on facebook:
The Senior Executives and Senior Directors at the bank understand online and some of them are passionate about social media, like William Trout, SVP and Director Internal Communications.
BBVA is very keen to be at the forefront of innovation in all the countries they operate, so it didn’t come as a surprise when last year BBVA Compass announced a strong partnership with the brilliant SmartyPig.