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Commonwealth Bank of Australia Celebrates its Centenary by Giving Away $20,000 to its Facebook Fans

Even though 2011 is not over yet, it has already been a fantastic year for Commonwealth Bank in Australia:

* This year, CBA celebrates its 100th anniversary,
* Thanks to the vision and under the leadership of people like Michael Harte – Group Executive Enterprise Services CIO, they are one of the only banks in the world to provide real-time banking to its clients (in action it is very impressive),
* Two weeks ago, CBA launched ‘Kaching‘, one of the most innovative mobile banking / payment applications for iPhone,
* The bank is the second most liked financial institution on facebook in Australia,
* Last but not least, in August Andy Lark became CBA’s new Chief Marketing and Online Officer (CMOO). Andy was instrumental in establishing Dell as one of the leaders in social media. His team is already working on a number of innovative social media initiatives. Stay tuned on Visible Banking!

CBA is committed to regain the first spot on facebook and become not only the most liked, but also the most insightful and engaging Australian bank on facebook.  The soon-to-launch ‘Time Vault‘ contest will be the first of a long series of initiatives on the most popular online communities in the world, and in Australia (#19 country in terms of penetration with over 50% of internet population)…

The bank has started to create some buzz on its facebook page two weeks before the launch of the ‘Time Vault’ contest.
CBA-TheTimeVault
How does the game work?
The Time Vault will exist as a tab application on the Commonwealth Bank Facebook page. Each day for ten business days, a question relating to a decade of Commonwealth Bank’s 100-year history will be asked. This means that there will be ten questions in total. If you decide to play, you will be sent on a ‘treasure hunt’ style quest to collect information, clues or codes in which to answer the question correctly.Once you have an answer, you will be required to enter it on the Time Vault Facebook tab along with your contact details. Each correct answer will go into a draw, with one lucky winner being randomly chosen for each of the ten questions. These ten winners will each receive a cash prize of $2,000. A total prize pool of $20,000 will be given away across the ten-day competition.You will find more info about the contest on this facebook note.  And I invite you to watch the video available on CBA’s YouTube channel.My Take
Did you know that back in October 2009, UBank launched a slightly similar initiative, ‘the time capsule‘, to celebrate its… 1 year of existence. It was one of the very first crowdsourcing experiments in banking: people were encouraged to upload their own memories and key events to the bank and UGC timeline.

The video posted by CBA doesn’t say much about the mechanism of the contest. I’m especially keen to find out how the contestants will share their responses with the bank. Openly, to maximize visiblity and create buzz? Privately, to ‘force’ the contestants to do their homework and look for answers themselves?

Back in October 2011, Caja Navarra in Spain launched an innovative contest on twitter via direct messages which aimed among other goals to refrain people from sharing their answers publicly.  Of course, if you choose that option you will want to come up with clever ways to create word-of-mouth at the same time and incorporate appropriate, timely, social sharing features.  By the way, this was also missing from ASB Bank’s virtual branch on facebook

Even though I always insist on the importance of REWARDING people for their contribution to your social media initiatives, I’ve never been a huge fan of giving away money to drive ‘engagement’ and increase the size of your community on facebook (beware of diluting the value of your fan base). But here I guess CBA is talking about their history and the very use of ‘vault’ puts the emphasis on money, so I can see the link.

And CBA won’t be the first bank to drive activity on facebook by giving money. And the total amount allocated to the contest is fairly low considering that: Chase gives million of dollars to charities via its popularCommunity Giving programme, and for ‘personal gain’ Chase recently boosted its fan base by giving $1 million away, Santander UK every yeargives 50 GBP per hour to students for 30 days, HSBC UK distribute a number of 15,000 GBP bursaries

At least, here the participants will have to do some research and find out some relevant info on CBA, so with this contest the bank has a good shot at attracting customers and prospects.

Rendez-vous on the Visible Banking blog on 21st November!

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