Introducing the Visible Banking Google+ Watch Series [200+ Financial Institutions in 21 Countries]


Since early 2009, my Visible Banking team have been tracking how financial institutions are using social media services like facebook (now over 1,100 pages and apps in 75 countries) and twitter (over 1,600 accounts in 72 countries).  It gives us some unique insights we share with our clients to help them immediately increase the level of engagement on those popular online communities.

This month, I’ve asked my team to start tracking financial institutions onGoogle +.

Google + was launched on 28 June 2011, and in the last four months, everything has been said of Google’s latest venture in the world of social media.  This is the fastest growing ‘social network’ ever with 40 million ‘users’ (vs ‘active users’) at the end of October 2011.

Social media gurus are divided on the Google service, I invite you to read those articles: ‘Google+ Is Dead‘, ‘
Google+ Proclaimed Dead. Is This a Fair Assessment?‘, ‘5 Reasons Google+ Could Win the Social Enterprise Battle‘.

A couple of weeks ago, on 7th November, Google launched ‘Google+ Pages‘ for brands and other businesses ‘a la facebook pages’.  In just a week, it has been claimed that over 60% of world’s top brands created a Google+ page.  With this move, the search engine giant is poised to reach 60 million users by year end.

So how big is the opportunity for brands and how critical it is to build an active presence on this other social media ‘channel’?  More importantly, should financial institutions hurriedly jump on the bandwagon and create another social media profile without much conviction or engagement?

 Financial Institutions on Google+
GooglePlus-Facebook-NABASBTookam-UpdatesA few financial institutions have been quick in creating a Google+ page, and confirmed been ‘excited’ and ‘curious’ with this new service.  Pleasecheck my post (including links to a press release) on New zealands’ ASB Bank, France’s TooKam by Credit Agricole, and Australia’s currently ‘under-fire’ NAB.A number of financial brands didn’t wait for the newly introduced pages and started to engage on Google+ via individual accounts such as SCB Thailand or Texas Credit Union.  We are tracking 24 individual accounts from financial institutions.Bank of America’s Own ‘Social Media Crisis’ on Google+
BankofAmerica-GooglePlus-FakeLast week, you could find a significant number of reputable online publications and a number of bloggers sharing their thoughts on Bank of America’s ‘social media incident‘, some calling it ‘the ultimate social media fail‘??

I believe it is time bloggers and self proclaimed ‘gurus’ demonstrate their expertise and understanding of social media.  How can you accuse an engaging bank like Bank of America, which is doing a good job leveraging social media to engage with its customers or candidates via twitter, and the small businesses and their commercial banking customers on their own online community (integrated to their prospect site)?

This incident proves once more that it is critical for brands to build their social media presence asap on every single relevant channel.  Being inactive is better than no being there at all!
I invite you to check my slides on ‘10-Step Strategy to Sail Through a Crisis Thanks to Social Media‘.

I enjoyed reading Bianca Bosker‘s article on the Huffington Post stressing out Google’s responsibility on this matter…  After all, I guess there is no such thing as bad advertising. 😉

The Visible Banking Google+ Watch Series
Please find below some stats from the first instance of our Visible Banking Google+ Watch series.

So far, we have flagged 205 accounts from financial institutions (24 individual and 201 pages) from 21 countries.  At the time of the data capture, only 50% of those accounts were ‘active’ (here, simply meaning that the financial institutions posted at least once on Google+).

Top 10 Financial Institutions ‘+1’
Top10-Plus1Companies mentioned: 1. Bank of America, 2. NAB, 3. ING DIRECT, 4. ASB Bank, 5. GLS Bank (Germany), 7. Progressive Insurance (US), 8. GEICO (US), 9. Allstate (US), 10. Banco Sabadell (Spain).

Top 10 Financial Institutions ‘Followers’

Top10-FollowersCompanies mentioned: 1. Allstate (US), 2. AGLA (US), 3. Bank of America (US), 4. ASB Bank, 5. Banco Sabadell (Spain), 6. UBank (Australia), 7. VPI Pet Insurance (US), 8. Citibank (US), 9. Webank (Italy), 10. Banco Hipotecano (Spain).

Top 10 Financial Institutions ‘Have in Circles’
Companies mentioned: 1. CMC (US), 2. GLS Bank (Germany), 3. Allianz (UK), Allianz (Germany), 4. American Express OPEN Forum (US), 5. Barclays (UK), 8. Maybank (Malaysia), 9. GEICO (US), 10. UBank (Australia).

My Take
Overall, I believe it is a good thing that Google is giving a good shot at providing the most engaging social media experience online and on mobile, at last.  And I really enjoy the concept and the potential offered by two of the most charismatic features of Google+: Circles and hangouts.

But as a social media enthusiast, an active business networker since 2003 and active blogger since 2004, I feel like it is always a race to convert some of your existing communities and dragging your contacts along somewhere else.  Seven years ago, I remember putting a lot of effort converting my ecademy contacts to linkedin.  More recently, everybody’s shortest route to social media influence is to convert linkedin contacts to facebook (or vice versa), facebook friends to twitter, twitter followers and facebook friends to klout or foursquare…  Where is it going to end?

I’ve been a fan of video content for years, and Google+’s emphasis on video appeals to me tremendously.  And considering the potential impact on YouTube, you understand why Google is so keen to accelerate the transition to the video web.  But let’s see how much impact it will have on brands.  So far, very few financial institutions have started to upload videos yet.

My key concern is that brands feel obliged to spend considerable amounts of money with their digital agency to produce fresh content constantly, and produce ‘viral’ videos to make the most of Google+.  I’ve always been a fan of doing the basics well and leveraging your existing -and vastly untapped- resources (people and content) first.

I appreciate the potentially significant impact of Google+ on SEO, yes I do.  And I understand how appealing it must be for brands.  But knowing by experience how little engagement financial brands are currently driving on popular channels like facebook or twitter – 90% of twitter accounts are inactive and 67% of facebook pages are at risk– I’d recommend they start to do a better job there first.

So Google+ is a good thing.  It is great in terms of competition and it will force facebook and twitter to be more ‘open’, innovative, and constantly introduce more valuable features and tools.  And vice versa.  Earlier this week, Google introduced trending topics

Any thoughts?  What is your financial institution’s strategy on Google+?  As usual, I’m happy to be challenged.

The Google+ Project
I invite you to join over 3 million people and watch Google’s videointroducing the Google+ project.

Working Together
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 twitterfacebook,crowdsourcingcustomer reviews, social media & social commerce in banking, financial services and insurance.

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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