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Interview ASB Bank on Social Media – Simone McCallum & Michael Ramsay

Social media banking. Interview ASB Bank on social media and their virtual branch app on facebook banking.

A few days after launch I wrote a comprehensive review of ASB Bank’s innovative Virtual Branch on facebook.

As usual, I’ve been critical but constructive. I was delighted to learn from the ASB Bank team that my blog post drove a lot of traffic and awareness. 😀

It was a great annoucement for the brand, and overall a very good initiative in the conservative banking industry, but unfortunately at the moment the application doesn’t leverage the viral features of facebook.

Moreover, I’d like to find out as much information as possible on the agents background as well as their main financial expertise, but the bank doesn’t provide any information but their picture…

Initial Results after just Two Months
So, how well did the facebook application perform so far? First of all, this initiative drove a significant blog and press coverage worldwide, which by itself probably made it worthwile from a brand perspective.

In two months, the bank multiplied by 4-5 times its fan base on facebook, from about 2,500 to over 12,500 fans. Last month, the application madeour Top 10 facebook applications by monthly usage with a peak at about 12,000 monthly users. Please note that now the application counts just under 6,000 monthly users. It is not surprising as 1. the bank urged people to use the application by offering 10 VAIO laptops (the competition ended in mid November), 2. a good amount of people were curious to try the service and there is a natural attrition rate.

Next Steps: Will the Bank Upgrade to a ‘Virtual Branch 2.0’? How Will they Reward their New Fans?
The Virtual Branch is still an experiment. The pilot will finish at the end of December, when the bank will review and analyse all the insights and feedback collected to identify some key trends. They will also have a close look at the results of the exit survey users were invited to complete when leaving the facebook app.

Currently, the eight agents don’t have any sales targets. Will that change in the future? Could banks really sell financial products on facebook? Or more importantly, do people really want to buy financial products or open a current or saving accounts on facebook?

Even thought nothing is set in stone yet, I hope the bank will decide to take its application to the next level. As far as I am concerned, I believe there is some potential here, and I’m looking forward to release 2! 😉

In the meantime, I am keen to see how many more monthly users the bank will win or loose. And whatever happens to the application, I wonder how the bank plans to engage more, leverage, and reward its new fans and when they will start increasing their level of engagement. Once more, it is mainly about putting in place a solid content strategy (topics and frequency).

The Interview, Take Two
The long story short: exactly a month after launch, I recorded an excellent video with Anna Curzon, General Manager Internet Banking, and Simone MccCallum, Head of Internet Community Support and Operations. Unfortunately, for some reason the software I always use didn’t pick up the sound from New Zealand…

Last week, we finally managed to successfully record another video interview! This time with Simone and Michael Ramsay, Acting GM Internet Banking.

Interview with Simone McCallum and Michael Ramsay
On Wednesday 17th November, I recorded our conversation on Skype. We covered the follow topics:
* Introduction
* What is the Virtual Branch? (starts at 00:32)
* What are ASB Bank’s key goals? (starts at 02:41)
* Was it a way to contribute to some innovation targets? (starts at 03:54)
* Measurement criteria & results so far? (starts at 04:44)
* Any sales targets? Most common questions? (starts at 06:40)
* How and when do you plan to fully leverage facebook’s viral features? (starts at 08:18)
* Do people want to talk about financial products with their bank on facebook? (starts at 10:18)
* When will I get more background info on the team? (starts at 12:58)
* Current structure, and Future, of the social media team? (starts at 14:57)
* What’s Next? More integration into social! (starts at 16:53)

Please find below our 18mn video which is hosted on my Dailymotion channel.

I invite you to connect with Simone on linkedin and follow her on twitter, and connect with Michael on linkedin.

I am keen to talk to you about twitterfacebook, customer reviews, social media & social commerce in banking, financial services, and insurance.

Don’t hesitate to call me (0044 7736 446 357), send me an email (, or DM me (@Visible_Banking).

What do you think?

Written by Christophe Langlois

Based in London for almost a decade, Christophe is an entertaining fintech marketing keynote speaker and a trusted advisor to the global financial services industry on the topics of digital marketing, innovation and B2B social media.

Christophe has contributed to over 140 events in 18 countries.

Currently, Christophe is advising a number of fintech startups on marketing and growth hacking and he is the Chief Marketing Officer of The Fintech Power 50, an exclusive annual programme helping fintech scale-ups to accelerate their growth globally.

Christophe's views on are his own.

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