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Interview ING DIRECT USA & Social Media – John Owens, Head of Marketing

Social media banking. Our video interview on ING Direct USA’s social media strategy with their Head of Marketing, John Owens.

ING DIRECT’s culture is quite different from your traditional bank. Their mission statement is straight forward: they focus on helping you save your money.

The direct bank has over 7.5 million customers in the US, 21+ million customers globally, and even though they don’t have a branch network as such, they invite their customers and prospects to come and interact with the team at any of their ING DIRECT Cafés.

As part of our benchmark of social media in banking, I’ve been following the involvment of ING DIRECT USA in the social media space and in particular their three main assets:
1. the @INGDIRECT account on twitter: over 14,000 followers, 4-5 daily tweets on average, launched in February 09.
2. the ING Direct page on facebook: over 25,000 fans, 1 wall post per day on average, a good level of activity (likes + comments)
3. the “We the Savers” blog: about 10 posts per month on average with a very high average number of comments, launched in May 09.

Please note that in the last few years ING and ING DIRECT have launched many more twitter accounts and facebook pages. We are currently tracking 14 twitter accounts and 10 facebook pages.

Following my post on the Top 10 most followed financial institutions on twitter in November, I contacted most of those banks via twitter to request a video interview with their social media team.

Last Friday, I sent a DM to @INGDIRECT which responded straight away. And just two working days later, I managed to record a video interview on Skype with John Owens, ING Direct USA’s Head of Marketing.

A BIG THANK YOU to Jeff Mirabello, from the Corporate Relations team, who made it happen: he booked me in John’s super busy schedule, and he managed to organize the very first skype video call at the bank!

Jeff is one of the contributors on twitter and facebook. Like any of the other contributors at the bank, Jeff doesn’t focus on social media. There is no dedicated team, everybody has the chance to participate.
An internal mailbox for suggestions of content or activities on twitter, facebook, blogs was set up by the bank for its employees.

In less than 20mn, John and I covered a lot of topics from the social media strategy of the bank to the opportunity for ING Direct in the social / mobile space and on services like foursquare. I invite you to watch the full length interview directly on dailymotion.

Basically, social media at ING DIRECT USA is a joint effort, the bank is focused on building engaged communities online over huge non participative audiences, there is no content strategy as such but the bank is making sure not to be intrusive or spam their followers / fans with constant updates, they respond to customer queries via their main three social media assets but they are not thinking of launching a dedicated customer support account on twitter.

We also talked about Peter Aceto, ING DIRECT CANADA’s President & CEO, and his active presence on twitter and the Direct Talk blog. Peter does a great job online demonstrating everyday that transparency in banking is possible and driving employee advocacy. I invite you to check the post he published yesterday “I am a CEO and I tweet“.

Now, I’ll let John do the talking! To make it easier for you to access your topics of interest, I divided the video into a few topical short clips:
Social Media Strategy (00:40)
Goals & ROI (01:40)
* Ownership & Team Structure (02:12)
Training (00:55)
Executive Support – Senior Management (00:29)
Peter Aceto & ING DIRECT USA’s CEO (00:51)
Content Strategy & Tone of Voice (02:22)
@INGDIRECT – Twitter Account (00:51)
ING Direct Page on Facebook (01:18)
“We The Savers” – Blogging (00:43)
Engaged Communities vs Groups (01:37)
Social, Mobile, Foursquare (01:30)

Please find below a playlist which regroups all those videos. Looking forward to your comments.

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