Guest Post #5 – From Israel, Bank Leumi’s Social Media Strategy

Guest Post #5 – From Israel, Bank Leumi’s Social Media Strategy


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Over the last couple of years, Bank Leumi in Israel established itself as one of the most innovative banks online and on mobile worldwide. As part of their digital strategy, the bank engage with their customers on social media channels like facebook or twitter.

In October 2010, Leumi announced they would double their social media investments this year.

Last year, I’ve asked a few friends to contribute on my blog which resulted in 4 excellent guest posts on social media in RussiaSpainGermany andIsrael.

Having noticed so much social media activity from Leumi, I’ve asked Gidi Dorevitch, Research Manager, Banking & Finance at Adkit to write another guest post this time exclusively focused on the bank.

I very much look forward to seeing Bank Leumi’s ambitious facebook strategy put into action and see:
* how actively (if they do at all) their customers will do banking transactions on facebook
* how they will train their agents in Leumi’s branch network to interact with customers on facebook. It seems like they plan to take ASB Bank’s Virtual Branch on Facebook to the next level

Please find below Gidi’s second insightful piece on Visible Banking.

Guest Post #5 – Bank Leumi’s Social Media Strategy
When it comes to effective utilization of social media tools, there is no doubt that Israeli Bank Leumi has taken a local leadership position. In their actions & achievements, Leumi is actually setting a good learning example for other banks not only in Israel, but around the world. Leumi’s case demonstrates, in my opinion, that effective usage of social media isn’t a matter of the bank’s size, as it is a matter of an organizational decision to be a leader in this sphere.

Before reviewing some of Leumi’s 2010 social media activities, and the bank’s social media plans for 2011, here’s a quick background rundown: With approx. 10,000 employees, 253 branches, and 2.5 million customers (from Israel’s 7 million citizens), Leumi (translated as “National”) is one of the country’s two largest banks.
During 2009, Leumi management made a clear strategic decision – prioritizing a wide range of activities in-order to migrate retail customers from physical branches to direct channels, and in purpose of branding the bank as truly “Digital”. In this context, social media tools have been recognized by the bank as the central path leading to this destination.

Branded as “Leumi Digital“, the bank’s central pillars of social media activity have since reached impressive figures:
• Leumi’s official blog  is very active, and each week at least 2 different posts are published – writers vary from branch managers to the bank’s CEO
• Leumi Digital’s Twitter account has over 2,000 followers
• Leumi’s Facebook page already has over 37,000 fans
• Leumi’s Iphone apps (now offering instant iPhone loans) have been downloaded more than 60,000 times

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In recent interviews to local Israeli financial media, Tamar Yassur, Head of Marketing at Bank Leumi, explained why the bank decided to put such focus on social media: “Today we understand we should be where the customers are. If we will not interact with the customers where the customers prefer to interact, we may simply lose them… Our basic idea behind Leumi Digital was to use social networks in-order to enhance the customer engagement towards our products. In our opinion, the term “engagement” could be viewed either as “commitment” or as “involvement”.
“When customers see one of our commercials on TV, it’s nice – but when they visit Facebook and receive a unique promotional benefit from the bank, or get a speedy answer to a question they just asked, the engagement levels rise. It is as if we are the customer’s friend. Social media is also a platform that enables us to identify what the customers expect from us. We all want life to be fast & smooth, streaming, “on the go” – and this is why the bank’s online and cellular activities are designed to be the same – easy, available anywhere and anytime you want them”.

Accordingly, during 2010 Leumi was constantly seeking ways to improve their social media activity, and use it not only to be present in the social media world (service, branding, building of a social world bank identity) but also for creating communities around the bank, enhancing customer relationships, creating actual dialogue, and development of new products & services. Even recruiting new employees has been shifted to put much stronger emphasis on social media (LinkedIn, for example).  During 2010, the bank initiated designated social media activities for youth, students, investors, and other segments – but I would like to review a few more unique activities carried out.

I invite you to check this post highlighting 6 key social media initiatives from Leumi in recent months.

So what’s planned for 2011?
For starters, Leumi Digital’s advertising budget will almost double in 2011 – from 6.5 million NIS (approx 1.7 million USD$) to 12 Million NIS (approx 3.3 million USD$) – Separate from Leumi’s overall marketing budget, this budget will be used to advertise only the full range of the bank’s social media and online activity.

During 2011, Leumi plans to take social media to the next level, by experimenting in ways to combine transactional aspects within the social media sphere. Recently, Leumi officials stated that a new Facebook widget will is soon to be launched. This application within Facebook will enable customers to carry out transactions in their checking account, without leaving Facebook or having to open a new window in their browser.

Later during 2011, Leumi is planning on launching unique Facebook pages for each of their retail branches. According to the plan, Via Leumi Digital’s main Facebook page it will be possible to see which bankers are at the branch, and interact with them directly.

While constantly seeking to learn about new online platforms and trends, Leumi plans to further expand the ongoing dialogue with customers via social media – due to the understanding that social networks are slowly replacing the more “traditional”  and “official” websites.

Other noticeable innovations planned by Leumi involve piloting usage of iPads as banker handheld devices in retail branches, and further development of mobile payments, Smartphone apps, and the Leumi Labsidea generating platform.

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