If you are a regular reader of my blog on Visible Banking, you’ll already know I am a big advocate for social media in B2B. Indeed, providing you do it well, I believe social media gives you a unique opportunity not only to stengthen your existing relationships with your commercial (small businesses) and corporate customers, but also to drive advocacy, become an ambassador for the sector and eventually increase your market share.
The Tremendous Opportunity in B2B
In the last three years, most of the online communities launched by banks targeted the small businesses, or Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), segment. For various reasons (mainly bad allocation of resources and budget, the lack of community management, and the crisis added with the loss of Executive support), some banks decided to shut down their communities, such as Fortis with their innovative community for European entrepreneurs join2grow.biz (offline since January 2009) or ABN AMRO with their Dutch community flametree.nl (offline since January 2010). Those communities were appreciated and they both had a solid member base of active users.
It is really a shame they closed down. And for a minute, put yourself into the member’s shoes: imagine how you would react if you invested dozens of hours on a service like linkedin and it simply closed down!
SEB Targets the Finance Professionals
A couple of years ago, SEB adopted a slightly different approach. The bank decided to reach out to the trade finance community and re-inforce its leadership in the space. They launched an online community initially exclusively for trade finance professionals called theBenche.com.
I shared my views on the Benche a couple of times on Visible Banking: forthe six-month anniversary of the community, and when SEB decided to invite Cash Management professionals to join the platform too (hoping to boost the registration rate on the platform).
Please note that now the community tagline is ‘Your Financial Community’ and includes Custody in addition to Trade and Cash.
A Challenging and Crowded Space
The challenges for theBenche, like for any other online communities, are: drive adoption of the platform, drive traffic, then drive activity. It is an even bigger challenge for financial communities to some extent that finance professionals already engage on communities such as swift’s community.net or finextra’s community, read online magazines like gtnews, and business networks like linkedin, viadeo or xing.
So, you are wondering what makes theBenche unique? Check out the interview!
Interview with Hakan Aldrin, MD at theBenche
For almost two years, I’ve been in touch online with Hakan Aldrin, the dynamic and highly enthusiastic Managing Director / ‘Sheriff’ of the Bench. I’ve always liked that on regular basis Hakan would urge his members to share their feedback and their ideas to make the platform better. And he would make sure to implement the best (and more doable) recommendations.
Last week, I had the pleasure to meet Hakan in person (at last!) in London at the Corporate Social Media Summit.
I’ve asked Hakan to share some stats about the platform:
* 4,600 members (now about 200 new members per month),
* 18k hits per month (10k unique visitors), always from about 140-150 countries.
* Top 5 countries: Sweden, Germany, US, UK, India.
I also recorded my conversation with Hakan about the Benche and social media in B2B. We covered the follow topics:
* Description & Goal of theBenche goal: to have everybody on board! (starts at 00:32)
* Focus of the commmunity: from Trade to Custody… Foreign Exchange next? 😉 (starts at 02:01)
* Does the industry really need theBenche? (starts at 03:38)
* Why would I go everyday on theBenche (content strategy, tools…)? (starts at 05:41)
* The challenge of driving member contribution (starts at 08:23)
* Limited budget, goals, success and ROI? (starts at 10:05)
* Are all SEB clients aware of theBenche? (starts at 12:46)
* How do you leverage social media? What’s next? (starts at 13:50)
* … and a little Swedish! (starts at 16:01)