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The Most Liked Financial Institutions on Facebook in Australia is… a Credit Union

So you are wondering which financial institution is ‘leading’ on facebook in Australia?  Which of the big bank is in pole position?  If CBA is very well positionned with over 70,000 likes, the current leader is… the 400,000 members Credit Union Australia with over 90,000 likes.

As most of you already know, today I’ve just come back from a very productive business trip in Singapore and Australia.

My schedule in Australia was already packed with many business meetings and social media workshops lined up with many financial institutions. But I was delighted to see so many news and events taking place in Sydney in the last two weeks: Commonwealth Bank’s launch of Kaching‘ – their innovative payment application for iPhone –, the launch of ‘Pygg.co‘ – a payment service on twitter (via PayPal) – (I recorded a video interview in Australia), and last but not least, last week’s bit of a crisis management‘ for the National Australia Bank (NAB) and its controversial rate cut.

On 25 October, I received an email from Peter Cramb – Manager Digital Initiatives at Credit Union Australia who wanted to connect with me in Sydney and inform me of the credit union’s successful facebook application ‘Pink My Profile‘ which had a dramatic impact on the fan base of the credit union on facebook…

My team is currently tracking over 1,000 pages and apps on facebook and1,500 twitter accounts in the worldwide financial services industry.  In Australia & New Zealand, we are tracking respectively 30+ assets on facebook and 60+ twitter accounts.  Three years ago, UBank established itself as one of the most experimenting banks in Australia with an active presence on facebook, youtube, and twitter.In the last twelve months, we saw an increase of activity in the social media space with initatives such as ASB Bank’s virtual branch on facebook or NAB’s award winning ‘the Break Up‘ campaign (please note that NAB is currently in the middle of a crisis – more on ‘Is NAB Having Post ‘Break Up’ Afterthoughts?‘).And there is more to come in the social media space from other leading banks such as Commonwealth Bank (CBA) which has successfully launched ‘Kaching‘ a market-leading payment application for the iPhone…So you are wondering which financial institution is ‘leading’ on facebook?  Which of the big bank is in pole position?  If CBA is very well positionned with over 70,000 likes, the current leader is… the 400,000 members Credit Union Australia with over 90,000 likes.  Congratulations to Peter and his colleagues!

CUA-Facebook-90000CUA launched their facebook page about 6 months ago and grew their ‘fan base’ to 7000 in the first 6 weeks.  The page counted about 8000 likes on 25th October.

The ‘Secret’ Behind their Rapid Growth
They managed to increase their fan base by more than ten fold in just one week thanks to a simple application focused on charity, ‘Pink My Profile‘, which appealed to the masses.

Even though this initiative genuinely reflects the credit union’s values, focusing on such an inspiring cause – far from banking and financial products -, CUA maximized its chance of success.  Who isn’t strongly against breast cancer?

My Take
With the level of activity (share, likes, comments) the size of their fan base remains one of the first key indicators tracked by brands on facebook.

Liked and Talked About
CUA-Facebook-PinkMyProfileSo here CUA did a brilliant job overtaking the big banks. It also has to be said that CUA achieved something pretty unique: during the short length of the ‘Pink My Profile’ campaign, the level of facebook users ‘talking about this’ matched the sizble number of likes.

Last month, we started monitoring the level of conversation of the financial services pages via facebook recently introduced ‘talking about this’ info.  This figure varies tremendously on daily basis, and the usually short-lived higher numbers are often due to specific campaigns.

I understand why CUA is proud of this achievement, and it is always refreshing to see smaller financial institutions launching smart social media activities.  I would like to put some perspective on this situation and the size of a facebook page community.  It is relatively easy to quickly increase dramatically your number of likes: you can give away prizes (like BNP Paribas in France), aggressively promote your facebook page on your site (like Akbank in Turkey), focus on sport sponsoring, CSR or charity work (a la Chase), launching a viral game via an application (a la CIMB Malaysia)….

But a rapid growth represents a potential big risk: diluting the value of your facebook fans and impacting negatively the level of brand intimacy achieved on the most popular online communtiy.  It makes it more difficult to come up with well balanced content and reward strategies…

Your key goal on facebook (and on twitter for that matter) is to better understand who your ‘communities’ are.  You have to focus on Know Your Followers/Fans (KYF),

In this case, I’m eager to see how well CUA will be able to fine tune its content strategy and engage with their community at last (currently the wall is not open, and the level of activity – except the posts on Pink My Profle – fairly low).  I’m also keen to see how much more the page can realistically grow.

In the next couple of weeks, it is very likely Commonwealth Bank will claim its ‘facebook crown’ back thanks to the imminent launch of the $20,000 ‘Time Vault’ contest…  But the CUA team has reason to remain highly optimistic and motivated: they achieved a lot with a fraction of the budget the big boys have, and they hare a great shot at gaining market share thanks to NAB’s recent ‘faux-pas’ and its negative brand sentiment.

Working Together
We at Visible Banking would be delighted to help you and your team better UNDERSTAND and LEVERAGE social media in a strategic yet pragmatic way. So please don’t hesitate to call me, send me an email or DM me (@Visible_Banking) to book a meeting and talk about twitterfacebook,crowdsourcingcustomer reviews, social media & social commerce in banking, financial services and insurance.

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