Can ‘Lloyds TSB Me’ Emulate Nintendo’s Success?

Can ‘Lloyds TSB Me’ Emulate Nintendo’s Success?

In early December Lloyds TSB, part of the giant UK-based Lloyds Banking Group, launched a new contest named ‘Lloyds TSB me. I started writing this article a few days after launch, but I wanted to get hold of a bit more data before publishing the final version on my blog.

Please find below the avatar / character I created and saved on December 6th, named ‘Visible Banker’.
LTSB-Me-9-YourCharacter-700x460
Please note that I created it directly on lloydstsb.co.uk, and there was a bug so I couldn’t upload it on to facebook at the time.

Lloyds TSB & Social Media
Let’s give a little bit more context to this initiative. This is pretty much Lloyds TSB’s fourth attempt to leverage social media within the last twelve months, and its second try on facebook:
* Facebook – Smart Saver Application: launched back in August 09, with 18 monthly users (40 at his peak). It never got any traction mainly due to the focus of the application itself, and the lack of  promotion from the bank. I invite you to check how its compares to the Top 10 Most Used Apps in Financial Services.
* Twitter – @LloydsTSBOnline: in May 2010, LTSB became the first major UK financial institutions to launch a twitter account dedicated to customer support. It was a good move from the bank, but I questioned their content and response strategies which for some reason haven’t improved much in the last six months. I invite you to check my comprehensive review on VB entitled ‘Lloyds TSB Supports its Customers on Twitter! Fine, but Now the UK Bank Should Learn from the Best‘.
* YouTube – the Lloyds TSB Channel: a few months ago, the bank decided to give a push to its YouTube channel created back in May 2006 (47 videos uploaded so far). The channel is branded with the bank infamous avatars, presents videos in three main categories (Advice & Guidance, TV Ads, London 2012).
The bank invites you to ‘share the channel’ on facebook and twitter. FYI, LTSB should improve the automated messages which are poor, and promote their own social media presence instead.
* Avatar / Facebook – Lloyds TSB Me

My favourite initiative so far is still @LloydsTSBOnline on twitter because it is focused on their clients, it involves engagement and conversations, and it demonstrates the willingness of the bank to listen and reach out. It is not perfect, but it is yet an excellent initiative in the slow moving UK banking industry. Even the innovative, customer-centric, new entrants like Metro Bank or Virigin Money haven’t started yet to leverage social media.

I believe the bank should start to launch an official LTSB page on facebook like Citi did about a month ago when then launched the Citibank US page. But the UK bank is far from being the only big bank without an official page, among those you can even find social media savvy financial institutions such as Wells Fargo or Bank of America.

So, what’s the potential of this new ‘Lloyds TSB Me’ initiative? How valuable will the participants be to the bank? And more importantly, will LTSB take this opportunity to think beyond campaign, and somehow create a Long Term engagement with this new ‘audience’? Let’s find out!

Lloyds TSB Me: When the Nintendo Miis Meet Banking
The contest relies mainly on three components: its own url,http://lloydstsbme.com which redirects you to a dedicated section of Lloyds TSB’s website with an emphasis on Personal Banking, a dedicated facebook page and a facebook application.

LTSB-Me-LloydsTSBcouk-800x600LTSB-Me-FacebookPage-800x600 LTSB-Me-FacebookApp-800x600

It’s another social media initiative driven by the Marketing function, which was probably convinced by a clever pitch from their digital agency. Please find below a quote from Catherine Kehoe, Lloyds TSB’s Marketing Director:“We are always looking for innovative ways to engage with consumers, our latest initiative is a fun way to bring the brand to life and create another dimension to Lloyds TSB”.

I always welcome social media initiatives and user-generated contest. But as usual my main concern here is about the very length of this ‘campaign’ and the lack of real engagement with the participants: brands must realize social media drives long term engagement with audiences, as long as you keep the conversation going and demonstrate the value of your initiative. It is critical to REWARD people for the time they spend contributing and promoting.

What is it all about?
The bank invites you to create your own avatar(s) and submit it (/them) for a chance to appear in one of the future TV ads.

How does it work?
You can create your avatar directly on the Lloyds TSB website or on the facebook page. It takes about 8 steps (and about 10mn) to create your character. 
LTSB-Me-1-Homepage-700x460LTSB-Me-2-Details-700x460LTSB-Me-3-VisibleBanker-700x460LTSB-Me-4-Body-700x460LTSB-Me-5-Hair-700x460LTSB-Me-6-Hair2-700x460LTSB-Me-7-Clothes-700x460LTSB-Me-8-Environment-700x460LTSB-Me-9-YourCharacter-700x460LTSB-Me-10-Save-700x460LTSB-Me-10-Save-700x460

Call(s) to Action
Then, you Lloyds TSB gives you four calls to action:
1. Enter the contest (submit your avatar),
2. Share (spread the word on social networks),
3. Download (create a profile picture for your facebook, twitter, mobile phone or your PC),
4. Save your avatar for later.

The save and submit options are great ways for LTSB to capture email address, even though the amount of info collected beyong email is minimal.

Please find below the two types of emails you’d receive after saving and entering the contest.
LTSB-Me-Saved-550x475LTSB-Me-Submit-550x475

How Little Promotion?
As a LTSB customer, I haven’t received any notification (neither online nor offline) about the contest. And I couldn’t find any mention of the contest on lloydstsb.co.uk, could you?

I usually advise brands to fully leverage their social media assets to cross promote their social media initiatives. In that case, Lloyds TSB can’t really do so on twitter, their account being dedicated to customer support, or on facebook, the bank lacking an official page…

How Big a Reward?
I must admit that from the get go, I don’t find the reward appealing enough. And I have a few questions: would my name appear in the ad too? Will there only be one ‘big winner’? What about the other dozens of thousands of participants which spent 10-20mn creating their avatars?

MiiChannelAs far as I am concerned, I can’t think about any obvious reason why people would spend time creating a Me. But for research sake, I asked a few friends for their views on the initiative: the majority thought it was quirky and would spend time creating an avatar, however it wouldn’t improve their perception of the brand. Any thoughts?

It’s a pretty different story with the incredibly popular Nintendo’s Miis (a year ago, Nintendo claimed over 100 millions Miis): playing the Wii is fun. Miis are fun too: you can share them and use them into Wii games. You spend a lot of time creating your Mii, but you know you will use it for a long period of time, at least until you are bored with it.

Stats – What’s the Activity Level so Far?
LTSB-Me-PopularI guess people in the UK are aiming to prove me wrong! 😉 So far, over 47,000 facebook users liked the contest page and the application now counts close to 100,000 monthly users.

Or are they? First of all, success in social media is not just about how big your fan base or follower base are.
And in this case, when you think about it, there isn’t much engagement after your created your avatar. At least not much engagement or contact from the bank. Basically, it is down to the participants to actively sollicitate their contacts.

Now let’s have a closer look at the Top 6 most popular avatars (in terms of likes, but also probably commented) entries so far. We have parity with three men and three women, and avatar liked between 54-362 times.

Well done to Nikita Tighe‘s avatar ‘Nikita’ which is so far the clear leader with 362 likes and 30 comments. Please note that we have celebrities such as ‘Elton John’ or ‘Ben Ladin’.
I’d be curious to find out more about the moderation process (if any) from the bank or more likely its agency.

As often with this type of user-generated contests, I believe the entries lack some kind of categorization. If I don’t know any of the participants, how am I supposed to contribute if I can’t easily browse and find the most appealing one to me?

My Take – Focus your Effort (and Budget) on LT Engagement
It is always good to see banks (especially the well established ones) launching innovative initiatives, especially in ‘the social space’. In this case, I would just challenge the value of the initiative or the impact it could have on the brand and more importantly on the Business. Indeed the level of interaction and engagement, the reward, and the approach (focused on a campaign versus long term engagement) are too limited.

A few questions to the Marketing team at Lloyds TSB and their agency:
* What are the success criteria for such an initiative?
* What’s the impact on the LTSB brand?
* How valuable are the participants and how much do you really know about them?
* What’s next and how will the bank engage with this new ‘community’ after the end of the contest?

I loved working at Lloyds TSB a few years back, and I look forward to working with the bank to help them better understand and leverage social media to build trusted long term relationships with their clients and increase customer advocacy.
But I believe those initiatives don’t necesserally help the brand and give some amunitions to internal sceptics who believe that social media is fluffy and will never generate any business benefits.

By experience the key challenges for a financial institution, and its digital agency, to launch such an initiative are:
* Content capture & promotion: it’s good to launch a user-generated video or avatar contest, and even better to roll out customer reviews or customer stories on your website. Nevertheless I’m afraid those initiatives won’t have any impact on your business if you are not collecting enough user-generated content.
You can’t just rely on word-of-mouth, you have to promote your initiative(s) on your own online assets (public website, online banking, email campaigns) and ideally offline assets (branches, print ads).
* Moderation: in this case the potential damage is limited to some extent that the user entry is mainly the avatar. Nevertheless, people can use swear words in their avatar name (or celebrity names as pointed in my article), and don’t under-estimate how creative people can be: I’m sure they could come up with an avatar which may look offensive to some minorities.
* Website / Facebook integration: the bank launched a facebook application, but the level of integration could be optimized between facebook and the LTSB website, which for instance doesn’t leverage facebook connect.
* Insights & Analytics: banks are keen to prove the ROI of social media, and measure the impact of their initiatives. Very few digital agencies or solution providers provide comprehensive, actionable, data and business reports enabling their clients to convince their Senior Management.

I invite Catherine and her colleagues from Marketing and Digital to reach out via phone (07736 446 357), email (christophe.langlois@visible-banking.com), or DM on twitter (@Visible_Banking).

I’d be delighted to share my views on social media with them, share my insights from the Visible Banking Twitter Watch and the Visbile Banking Facebook Watch series, and talk them through The key opportunity for financial services firms in the social media space: collecting and displaying customer reviews, customer stories, and customer questions and answers in a fully moderated, engaged and integrated with social media environment.

This is the banks’ best shot at demonstrating ROI from social media, engaging people on their facebook page (at last), capturing customer feedback all year long and increasing customer advocacy.

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