Part 1 – Part 2
Creation of communities around Banks
Probably, the greatest success Spanish Banks have achieved on web 2.0 matters is the creation of communities around Banks. Two particular cases are currently a reference at international level.
Caja Navarra, a savings bank mainly present in the north of Spain (Navarra, Basque Country), decided to go for a dramatic change in its banking strategy. This bank decided to give voice to its clients on the bank’s strategic decisions. The clients can for instance decide decide the end of its social work (that is the money allocated by the bank for re-investment in society). Another important strategy was to put its branches at its clients and non-clients disposal for social activities.
These two big decisions have contributed to the creation of a community of organizations related with social responsibility around the bank. This closeness is relevant for a big sector of society with a great driving force. The strategy of loaning branches (or Courts) for social meetings is also a good way to raise the awareness about the entity. At the end of the day, this relevance increases the winning of clients and the brand’s equity, and therefore the bank’s results improve.
Another interesting example of community around the bank is Actibva.com which positions BBVA within the social media thanks to an initiative which tries to inform and answer financial doubts. This relevance enables BBVA to have around 60,000 people interested in finances per month in a site with BBVA presence. A media disintermediation phenomenon which is increasingly becoming a challenge for traditional media as we said before.
Other blogs initiatives also stand out as Obra Social CajaMadrid.
Relationship with the client
One of the approaches the banks are still reluctant to go for is the relationship with the client and non-client through the Internet.
In Spain, the Banco Sabadell has recently followed this trend through the opening of channels like Twitter to give answers to clients. Communication in entities is still closely supervised by communication departments which do not tolerate that communication between the entity and the web is unsupervised.
Moreover, this type of communication faces an important challenge: Internet feedback is mostly negative. People feel more motivated to publish problems than to publish their satisfaction with the service. In this sense, to promote positive (and of course real) feedback is a challenge for this kind of services. Responding to criticism can also be a positive way to create a positive impression.
Truth is that the web is already producing opinions, regardless the bank provides for a channel to communicate with the clients or not. Therefore negative feedback can be ignored, but it exists. Nevertheless, in some cases response to this feedback might be counterproductive and provoke aStreisand Effect. In this sense, without people with experience in the web to manage communication (Community Manager) this risk is really high.
One of the fields financial entities are exploring is using initiatives to manage knowledge (such as internal blogospheres), initiatives to attract talent through support to entrepreneurs (BBVA Open Talent stands out), or CAN support thanks to its participative loans. These initiatives finally result in the creation of communities around these projects. BBVA Blogs like Planta 29 are also an interesting resource to spread the entities’ R+D activity.
Initiatives such as Universia, by Santander, are a clear example of previous to 2.0 initiatives which have managed to create communities, in this case a students community where the financial institution is very present.
Another initiative that stands out is the foundation of innovation by Bankinter, which tries to create communities of experts on different subjects, organizing conferences and submitting reports to important figures of the scientific world. These communities are smaller and aim at spreading information rather than at the creation of communities.
Another interesting initiative is Jóvenes emprendedores (young entrepreneurs) by Bancaja, with the objective of attracting this group of people.
One of the most impressive initiatives regarding tools in the financial fields was the participation of Strands in BBVA capital to develop Personal Finance tools. This tool is currently part of its online bank and is being used by many clients. This type of tools include information of all users so that you can compare your financial habits with those of the community, the provided information being really useful.
Nevertheless, these tools are still clearly separate of the transaction banking and lack of the necessary tools to improve communication between the clients. Financial entities, and not only the Spanish ones, are not taking many steps in this direction, while other initiatives such as Mint, Wesabe are leading this type of functionalities and gaining good reviews, therefore they can become competitors for transactional banks when choosing its tool for the management of personal finances.
Financial planning tools, as they exist in the USA, have not yet arrived in Spain.
Nevertheless, the separation of these tools from the transactional web and the scarce publishing attention they get limits its potential.
This is probably one of unresolved matters of financial institutions: development of purely online products using 2.0 communities. In the USA they already have virtual products like SmartyPig which start to innovate in the banking model. In Spain, initiatives such as Comunitae goes for p2p loans, another of the new financial products.
In Spain, entities as BBVA, Caja de Ahorros de Navarra, Banco Sabadell, Caja Madrid and Inversis, are strongly committed with the social media, while the rest of entities are not yet giving clear answers to this new trend which is growing stronger everyday.
Nevertheless, the entities which are committed with the social media, like BBVA and CAN are reaching similar levels to those of many financial entities in the rest of the world, far from the 2.0 finance start-ups in Spain, which are far from reaching the rest of the world’s level.