R.I.P. Chase +1 on Facebook. Long Live American Express.

I started to write this article on 24th November, but I was curious to find out how many industry bloggers and journalists would spot this too. To this date, I couldn’t find any other coverage of this event.

ChaseBank-Facebook-DeleteChasePlus1Account-06October2010Just two months ago, on 22 October 2010, the banking industry lost what could have become one of the few best practices on facebook, the ‘Chase +1’ page, as Chase bank decided to discontinue it three years after launch. One of the most liked facebook page from a bank with close to 40,000 fans, it will be remembered for being one of the biggest missed opportunities from a large financial institution on the most popular social network.

The Credit Card Industry Struggled to Leverage Social Media
In the last few years, the credit card industry has tried desperatly to leverage social media. Most initiatives fell flat such as the Citi / MySpace card or Citi’s in Asia. Some other initiatives had to shut down due to other circumstances like the innovative and dynamicideablob by the late advanta.

On the other hand, in the last 18 months American Express established themself as a serious contender to the title of ‘King of Social Media in financial services’: they became the leader in the space in both B2C and B2B with an engaged online community, OPEN Forum, and some of themost followed accounts on twitter and the most liked pages on facebook.

Chase +1 – How Did the Reward Mechanism Work?
About three years ago, Chase Bank became one of the most innovative banks when they launched their Chase  +1 card for students. To activate the card, and benefit from all the benefits offered by the card, owners had to be on facebook to untap the benefits of their new card.

Remember this was before the launch and rise of ‘facebook connect‘. The bank also tried to use this mechanism to improve financial literacy and drive the charity spirit among young americans.

Please find below a few screenshots.

How Appealing was the Chase +1 Card According to the Experts?
The card’s unique reward mechanism, which basically rewards other people or entities but you, was reviewed as ‘unique’, but it was pointed out as potentially ‘too complicated for people to figure out‘. Moreover, it allegedly took too long to earn points and really make a difference. It was mentioned as ‘a decent student credit card although not a all time favorite‘.

What’s Next for Chase in the Social Media Space?
ChaseBank-Facebook-Plus1-StillPromotingFacebookI started to write this article on 24 Nov 2010, and the official website still invited new card holders to register their card via facebook?

Some may see this initiative as the first experiment which potentially helped the bank better understand facebook (?) and launch their amazingly ‘successful’ facebook page and application: ‘Chase Community Giving‘ which counts about 2.5 million fans. This year they did a great job urging people to spread the word on twitter using #chasegiving.
The next steps for the bank in regards to CCG are to:
1. understand who those people are and how valuable this audience really is to their brand,
2. find a way to maintain a decent level of engagement between their annual campaigns.

Please note that Chase still doesn’t have an official corporate facebook page and is not on twitter. The conversations on twitter are pretty negative, and I wonder if the bank has any kind of social media monitoring process in place at all?

Some of Chase angry customers are quite vocal online: I invite you to checkmy video coverage of the revolt from one of their business customers “Open Letter to the Worst Bank of the Known Universe”.
What an explicit title, don’t you think?

5 Other Big Missed Opportunities
Chase is not the only financial institution to discontinue which could have been a formidable success in terms of online engagement and customer adocacy.

Please find below 4 other discountinued online communities.
1. Fortis Bank’s (Belgium, closed down in January 2009)
2. ABN AMRO’s (the Netherlands, closed down in January 2010)
3. HSBC’s (UK, closed down in 2009)
4. Advanta’s (US, closed down in 2009)

CSR-focused community by Caisse d’Epargne,, hasn’t been active since Q3 2009, mainly because the key advocate internally moved on. It’s another proof socia media is a people matter. You loose your sponsor, the initiative is likely to die off… But contrary to the previous four online communities, it is still online and hopefully one day the bank will spend time identifying how to revive it and take it to the next level.

Put Together a Long-Term AND an Exit Strategies
When you are planning to launch an online community, the most challenging and demanding social media initiative I can think of, you must make sure to have a Long Term strategy as well as a few scenarios for your exit strategy. You must respect your members who spent hours contributing and promoting your initiative! It is simply not acceptable to interrupt the service, give your members a few options to at least download all their data.

So, what would you have done with those initiatives? I’m keen to start a conversation on the topic of LT engagement and the notion of ‘successful online community’. And as usual please do not hesitate to flag any other big missed opportunities 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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