This afternoon, I had a productive meeting in Paris with one of the largest banking groups in France. And I’m confident we will deliver a few social media projects for this financial institution within the next couple of months. One of their hottest topics is if and how a bank can generate business on social media channels such as facebook or twitter.
So what a perfect timing when, not even two hours later, I received a youtube update via email notifying me of a new video uploaded onto the BNP Paribas channel (32k views since June 2006). The name of the video definitely caught my interest: “Publicité BNP Paribas la NET Agence – Ouvrez un compte en 1 tweet” (“Advertisement BNP Paribas the Net Agence – Open a bank account in 1 tweet”).
Basically, tweeps just have to send a tweet to @BNPParibas_Net and the team will reach out to them and guide them all along the account opening process in order to make it as easy and smooth as possible and provide the best user experience to their future new clients.
This video is another example of BNP Paribas’ clever marketing and communications machine. With this genuine ‘marketing coup’ (basically here BNPP simply invites people to tweet them without even using a special hashtag, or guaranteeing some kind of super tight SLA – close-to-real time response, or any kind of innovative communications “a la Best Buy’s Twelpe force” on the 200m-user mico-blogging service). But a bit like modern art, there is a premium to be the 1st to come up with such an announcement, and I’m confident BNP Paribas will create a decent amount of coverage and drive Word-of-Mouth.
I’ve always wondered how a proactive bank reaching out to tweeps looking for a financial product would be perceived? Surely intrusive, don’t you think? Here, we have one good work-around for unsollicited sales / promotional tweets. With this approach, Frank and his team totally tapped into Seth Godin‘s permission marketing concept: let people confirm their interest, then reach out to them, help then and eventually turn them into customers.
Over the last few years, I’ve buit an excellent relationship with Frank Desvignes – Director Internet & Mobile at BNP Paribas Retail Banking France (please check my video interview with Frank) and his team.
Since Frank joined BNPP a decade ago, day after day he’s demonstrated (and implemented) BNP Paribas’ willingness to constantly innovate in the online and the mobile channels:
* back in September 2009, Frank’s team launched one of the first corporate facebook pages in France to reach over 100k fans (built by giving away cinema tickets),
* BNP Paribas became the first major French bank to launch an ipad app (even though the initial release wasn’t a fully native ipad app and didn’t offer the fantastic experience provided by the best ipad apps),
* back in September 2010, BNP Paribas became the 1st bank in France, and one of the first in Europe, to launch a twitter account dedicated to customer support (the volume of questions and requests is still low, but the bank could easily scale up and fully leverage its team of 5 custome care reps trained to twitter),
* more recently, BNP Paribas launched a couple of innovative iphone apps focused on travels and cars.
This is not Frank’s first try at leveraging their social media communities to generate business and drive account openings. His team tried to drive account openings on facebook via three wall posts and a trackable reward system focused on cinema with a special voucher code to track the online sales back to facebook. The amount of activity on those post was quite limited but many people complained that there was no promo for existing clients…
Nowadays people are looking for intuitive and easy ways to find the best financial product(s) for their own needs and go through the compulsory administrative paperwork as quickly as possible. This marketing announcement seems to be ‘lacking substance’, but it reminds people the BNP Paribas team is on twitter too, and how convenient this alternative service could be. It totally fits the bill.
In the next few days and weeks, I am sure most of BNP Paribas’ competitors will challenge its value or labelled it another marketing coup (as I called it myself a few lines above). Yes it is another marketing coup, but I guarantee you that behind close doors, many banks will be wondering why and how come they hadn’t thought about it first…
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 twitter, facebook,crowdsourcing, customer reviews, social media & social commerce in banking, financial services and insurance.