VB Social Media News 4-Mar-09: Digital Cream 2009, Citi partners MySpace, Westpac pulls out of Second Life

Please find below the social media news in banking / financial services on Wednesday 4 March 2009.

Digital Cream 2009
I have just come back from Digital Cream, the digital marketing event organized by econsultancy. I moderated one of the social media roundtables with a key focus on monetization.
It was a great session with digital marketing professionals from a wide range of industries and companies such as Clinique, Diabetes UK, Institute of Directors, O2, PhotoBox, Thomas Cook.

Companies acknowledge the importance of social media, and most of them have created an internal social media working group with participants for various parts of their organization. Education, lack of strategy and lack of resources remain the key challenges for most digital marketeers.

It was great to catch up with my fellow social media advocate Paul Squire, Online and New Media Manager at E.ON who I met at ad:tech07 and more recently at the PRWeek event on Social Media.


Citi Partners MySpace
“Citi has teamed up with MySpace to launch a credit card that lets customers earn reward points for acts of financial and social responsibility. (…) The points can be used for rewards and experiences from MySpace, such as music downloads, VIP concert tickets, private concerts and trips to movie premiere screenings.”

This is another example of Citi’s commitment to innovation. It is a creative way to tap into social networking and the sizable MySpace community. It is just a commercial deal, with virtually no technology work involved from Citi.

Excellent! But I am curious to see how Citi will promote their initiative (on MySpace and on their website) and see how successful their initiative will be six months down the road.

Please note that back in December 2008 Citi launched a social networking site, ClearAfterHours, to promote their contactless payment card Citi Clear Card. Also, I invite you to watch my video interview with Steve Kietz, CEO of MobileMoneyVentures LLC, the JV between Citi and SK Telecom.

Westpac pulls out of Second Life
“Westpac has revealed that changing business conditions and poor adoption forced it to abandon or shelve some of its highest-profile Enterprise 2.0 projects. The bank has abandoned the Second Life presence it used for employee induction, has re-evaluated the use of blogs within the company and has pulled back on desktop video. (…) But it has seen its share of project failures too, Backley reminded the audience. Such as its early leap into blogs. Bank management at the time was too risk averse and the technology too new, he said. Parts of the organisation were too scared to put comments in because they didn’t know what the consequences were,” he said. (…) But he said its Second Life trial had forged ahead, initially – “It worked. We had great feedback.” The project was abandoned once its project sponsor moved to a new job.”

I am not surprised Westpac gave up on Second Life / virtual worlds and internal blogging. The reasons behind those “failures”: PEOPLE – the social media champion moved on, and the lack of education.

Learn – Listen – Participate – Engage – Measure
Does it mean banks shouldn’t leverage social media? Not at all!
Banks must:
a) work with a subject matter expert,
b) educate/train their employees and their senior management,
c) start where it makes sens.

Virtual worlds for banks: focus on recruitment & education
As far as I am concerned, banks should use virtual worlds mainly for recruitment and financial education.

Back in February 2008, ING pulled out of Second Life officially because of the merger with postbank (but the business sponsor moved on too).

But banks are not done with virtual worlds yet. Last year, ABN Amro appointed a head of 3D experience, Wells Fargo’s StageCoach Island is still going strong, and last week BNP Paribas launched Ace Manager an online game for students based on a virtual world.

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. Invites Christophe Langlois to Moderate a Roundtable on Social Media at Digital Cream 2009

VB Workshop Series – Social Media & Finance – San Francisco, 29th April 2009