Kaching! CBA reaps $1m from social media

Two of Australia's biggest banks have indicated how a dollar value can be attributed to their social media efforts, writes Vish Teckchandani.

In an early sign of success that social media can be monetised, Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) revealed that it has made nearly $1 million in revenue by intercepting potential customers’ life events on Twitter.

Andy Lark, chief marketing and online officer at the nation’s biggest bank, said CBA’s so-called social media command centre was “literally tracking every single conversation about Commonwealth Bank online in real-time and responding to it, answering requests and talking to customers.”

“People say to me, why would you do that? Well here’s some early data for you, we’re now close to [making] $1 million in revenue through what we call twitter intercepts,” said Lark.

“These are people who express dissatisfaction with competitors and post something like “I’m not happy with my bank anymore” and we pick that up and capture the trend and go straight in and say “we’re here to help, could we offer you a better alternative to your current bank?”

If you don’t, somebody else will
CBA’s success in social media highlights a shift in how the industry is acquiring customers, and underscores the fact that consumers are increasingly expressing financial needs online through the likes of Twitter and Facebook, rather than purely via branches.

For the financial services industry, broadly, these trends reveal the danger of not having a social media presence, according to Colin Williams, director of Humble Financial Services.

“It’s just something you have to do now. To me, it’s proof that if you’re not talking to your clients on social media, somebody else will,” said Williams.

“It’s about listening to what your community or your target market is saying and being proactive in that market. There is little doubt that Twitter activity is very, very fast but there are tools out there you can use to track potential key words and key phrases which could fall into your community.”

NAB: retain and develop business
Rival National Australia Bank (NAB) is also finding its own success in luring business through social media.

Sam Plowman, executive general manager of direct banking at the lender, said NAB's own social media command centre is helping the bank acquire, retain and develop millions of dollars worth of business, and is proving to be particularly attractive for winning business banking customers.

"We've been overwhelmed by the number of our business banking customers that have proactively given us a call and said 'we'd love to come in and spend some time in the command centre so that we can learn how to use social media effectively for our own business'," said Plowman.

Over 20 clients including chief executives and chief financial officers from existing business relationships as well as other firms have attended three hour training sessions at NAB's Melbourne-based social media command centre since it opened in early December 2012.

The command centre comprises seven staff from the bank’s digital, marketing and corporate affairs team who monitor around 10,000 interactions across channels including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Google+.

"It's turned into an amazingly powerful value proposition and interestingly it's now mixed into our normal day-to-day banking products and services and we're open to sharing it," said Plowman.

Not waiting for the customer
Lark said CBA had noted a significant number of social media posts from potential customers seeking a mortgage broker or wanting help with home loans.

“I’m not so much now waiting for the customer to search for a CommBank home loan. I’m looking to intercept the customer that has just followed us on Facebook or connected to us on Twitter and expressed a need for a product or service such as purchasing a property," he said.

“That’s what we’re looking at and we’re looking to intercept that and wrap that with banners or offers or direct conversations with a banker or mortgage broker or lender,” said Lark.

Versions of this article have also appeared on the Finsia Passport website and in the April edition of AB+F magazine.

Categories
Banking, Technology
Tags:
CBA, Andy Lark, NAB, Sam Plowman, Twitter
Author:
Vish Teckchandani, vteckchandani@financialpublications.com.au
Article Posted:
April 08, 2013

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