This is it. At last, one of the leading US banks has started to gear up on facebook. Less than 24h ago, Citi soft launched the Citibank US page.
In the last 18 months the leading US banks focused on leveraging twitter as an excellent customer support channel: @Wachovia / @Ask_WellsFargo, @BofA_Help, @AskCiti. But none of those major banks spent much time engaging with their clients on facebook via an official corporate page.
Same goes for Wells Fargo, the kings of blogging, despite having a brilliant social media team: nothing to write home about on facebook except for the Wells Fargo With You When page (with only 485 fans) and Remember the Future application (with 5k monthly users) launched earlier this year.
The only two major US banks in our facebook Top 10 in November were Chase with their Chase Community Giving page (with over 2.5 million fans) and USAA with their official corporate page (with over 120k fans). If we put American Express (which has two pages in the top 10) in financial services and not banking, USAA is today the most liked major US bank on facebook.
Citi Demonstrates Again its Commitment to Embrace Social Media
Citi’s approach is excellent: let’s recruit the best minds to help the bank overcome internal hurdles and successfully embrace social media!
And they achieved that in less than 18 months thanks to two people (and of course their brilliant team!): Jaime Punishill, Global Head Wealth Online at Thomson Reuters (and former SVP Social at Citi) while at Citi spent over six months evangelizing social media in the organization, convincing the Senior Management, training the customer care teams throughout the country. In April, Jaime helped Citi to become the first major US bank to obtain not one but two verified account badges on twitter for @Citi and @AskCiti. While in London Jaime contributed to one of the three social media & finance workshops we successfully delivered in June in Europe.
And I couldn’t think of a better person to replace Jaime than Frank Eliason, SVP Social Media at Citi, and former Senior Director in National Customer Operations at Comcast where Frank masterminded the telcos giant presence on social media (check @comcastcare on twitter to appreciate Frank’s achievements in the social space).
In a recent post on the New Citi blog, Frank confirmed Citi’s commitment to improve the overall Customer experience (C in upper case, loving that!).
What Can you Find on the Page?
When they launched yesterday, the page only included two tabs (three including the Wall): Info and Connect. A few minutes ago, in addition to publishing their second wall post, Citi added two additional tabs: Events and Photos.
Info: there is a comprenhensive corporate overview of the bank. They also list most of Citi’s social media assets such as their main twitter accounts (@Citi and @AskCiti, but no mention of their accounts dedicated to careers / recruitment), and their youtube channel.
For a bank embracing social media, legal & compliance is extremely important: I invite you to check the Citi Facebook Terms and the Citi Facebook User Content Guidelines also available in this tab (but hosted on online.citibank.com).
Connect: the most interactive and sleek tab so far. Most of the links simply redirect the facebook users to Citi’s website. As far as twitter is concerned, they only promote their account dedicated to customer support, @AskCiti.
Events: currently empty.
Photos: one photo albums of their Global Community Day 2010.
Now, let’s check the initial results of an incredibly successful soft launch.
1 Post, 130+ Likes, 60+ Comments
Citi enjoyed a high level of activity in response to their first wall post which explained the goals of this new official page. Virtually every single comment is positive, and the majority is from Citi’s employees.
Please find below my favourite comments and some early member suggestions.
My Top 5 Favourite Comments
* I am representative of citi in russia! Thank you,dear bank,it is really the best place for work! but does anybody know if there is possibility to move to another country?
* I’m peruvian 🙂 I love Citigroup
* Thank You Points have come up here. I won’t be offended if there’s any bribery, such as some extra points just for being a fan here. Oh, and while someone said they were a customer since age 17, I had my first Citi account at around age 10. I then used internet banking with Citi from a dial-up modem in the early 90s, before the Web was even around.
* I am curious as to how I got your post here on my Facebook account. What is it that captured me as a ‘member’ or whatever? Thanks.
* what does Citibank have to offer, that Bank of America, nor Chase can match (or as Ashwani Lamba asked “how do you plan to beat the competition)??!
Suggestions from the Fans
* I’d love to hear about new features/services, and wouldn’t mind being asked for my opinion on them. It would also be great to get some extra features/services by being a fan
* It would nice if Citibank could sponsor a Money Management Course for Pre-Highschool and High School kids. The sooner kids learn about managing money, the better off they will be in their adult life. It’s always a good idea to get kids to saving at an early age.
* Waive our card annual fee!!yeah!!for those who pays on time.can?
Wondering How Citi Managed to Reach over 7,000 Fans in less than 24h?
I immediately thought about a thorough communication campaign to their enormous workforce worldwide.
I’ve always thought it didn’t make sense for sizable organizations to have just a few hundred fans on facebook, whereas they are employing thousands or hundreds of thousands. Banks must leverage their workforce, they should promote their official page to their employees first (on the intranet or via an email push) and urge them to like it. Of course, if your employees don’t have access to facebook at work, it would dramatically minimize the impact of such a communication plan…
I’ve contacted Citi and Frank a few hours ago to ask them a few questions about the new page and in particular on their fan base (please check the tweets I listed a couple of paragraphs below). In a nutshell, Frank confirmed that they reached the high number mainly via… page migration / fan aggregation! Clever, isn’t it? 😉
On their page, Citi says “we do plan to connect on Facebook and use this as place to learn from and engage with our customers”. I’ll follow Citi’s effort on facebook closely in the next few weeks and months to see how successful the bank will be in building an engaged audience (and not just a sizable audience! It is an important topic I discussed with ING Direct USA’s Head of Marketing yesterday) and how they will leverage and action all the great feedback from their facebook fans.
And in the short term, if you are as interested and curious as I am, I invite you to stay tuned and check the Citibank US page on Friday. Citi will start asking their customers to share stories on specific topics.
I look forward to finding out how they will capture the input from their fans, and if they’ll cleverly leverage twitter to maximize the word of mouth online!
Today’s Conversations with Citi & Frank Eliason
Please find below the responses from Citi and Frank to my questions on twitter:
@Citi: RT @FrankEliason Testing…Testing…123…Citibank has launched on Facebook. More coming on Friday! http://citi.us/cnfgFv
@Citi: @Visible_Banking We are going mix in stories with the page. On friday, we’ll be asking our customers to share stories on a specific topic
@Citi: @Visible_Banking We have not marketed our page broadly internally yet. We did send tweets from our Citi twitter accounts.
@FrankEliason: @Visible_Banking it is a credit to my great team! Actually migration of a few other pages under the Citibank name