Banks Must Have a Social Media Presence. Period.

In his first guest post, Jose Antonio Gallego explains why banks must have a social media presence and advises financial institutions to find some inspiration in the digital engagement strategy of one of the world’s most well-known authors.

On 4th February 2012, we turned 5 on that date, I announced the imminent launch of the ‘Visible Banking Stars‘ programme and the total redesign of

After William Trout from BBVA Compass (US) and Daniel Gusev from PSBank (Russia), I am delighted to officially announce our Visible Banking Star number 3, Jose Antonio Gallego – Social Media Manager at BBVA (Spain).  I’ve known Jose Antonio for quite some time now, and I very much look forward to reading his exclusive articles on Visible Banking.

I invite you to read his very first contribution, translated from Spanish to English, ‘Banks must have a social media presence’.

In the last few years, I have covered many social media initiatives from Jose Antonio and his colleagues at BBVA in Spain, such as the bank’s crowdfunding’s experiments ‘BBVA Friends and Family‘ and ‘BBVA Suma‘.  I invite you to watch my oldishn but still relevant, video interview with Jose Antonio.

Please find below Jose Antonio’s first official contribution (in Spanish) on the Visible Banking blog.

This question is obviously rhetorical. I am passionate about social media, and I work as a social media manager at a social media pioneer in the worldwide banking industry (  I’m also an avid reader (and now collaborator) of Visible Banking.But I do want to raise some questions about how banks and other big brands are using social media.There is a kind of “thinking” that argues that blogs, social networks, forums, wikis, etc. are changing the world. What is a “disruptive phenomenon” and since millions of people around the world spend more time on those social media channels, all our decisions, including purchase, take place on those networks. In fact, I assume my share of blame for this “thinking”, even though not always intentional.And this is a mistake: the Internet and social media have influenced (a lot) how I make a living today, how much access I have to culture, how I interact with my friends and family, spend my spare time, how I educate my daughter. They also help more and more people to fall in love and start a family. But it has an impact on the number of broken families too.Their influence in other areas or needs one might have such as “how to choose the right car to buy”, “which financial institution to bank with” or “which soda to drink” is also signifivcant.Nevertheless, some examples and facts show that at least in the financial sector the influence of social media is still far from being significant:

Consider this list of the world’s largest banks in 2008 by market capitalization.  Now compare it with the current 2012 list.

In these four years the growth of social networking users has been exponential, from being a phenomenon of “early adopters” to something massive and totally mainstream.  However, if we observe the changes at the world’s largest banks in these four years, we see little -if nothing at all- influence of social media. Yes one can point out the political and economic changes and the global crisis, which have increased the influence of China and Brazil against Europe.

Extending the scope: of the 100 largest companies in the world, very few made the Top 100 thanks to social media.  Let me be more specific.  If a company anywhere in the world has suffered a crisis in the social media space that is Nestlé, through the great campaign launched by Greenpeace in 2010 against its flagship product, KitKat bars. The company was completely overwhelmed at the impact and the virality of the video.

But, to what extent this campaign was a real problem for Nestlé? Not that this campaign had no influence on his financial results and P&L, it certainly had a negative impact, but it has not stopped the company from being the most profitable company in the world in 2011.  Therefore, one has to weigh the influence of this social media campaign.

It is important to remember that social media channels created by the users, for the users, have their own set of rules, and advertising there is hardly accepted or simply ignored.

What do you think?

Written by Jose Antonio Gallego

Social media manager at Grupo BBVA, Founder and president of Aerco-Psm (social media professionals association in Spain with more than 2.000 members). Advisor at, virtual community for chronic patients by Hospital Clinic from Barcelona.
BA in economics and executive master at IE Business School.

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